Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Niqab.





The niqab. How ironic it is that though the NIQAB is just a piece of cloth (which probably has more material than a bikini top and bottom) it has sparked ENOUGH controversy all around the world?! A black piece of cloth that is meant to cover the entire face (except for the eyes) has been given more negative attention than if a women who were to walk down the street in her nasty bikini! Subhana'Allah. Like seriously, why should a piece of black cloth that covers the face (which by the way IS one of THE most attractive part of a woman) be scrutinized and detested by half of society? Why does society dictate to women what they can and CAN'T wear ? Who are they to say that we are oppressed JUST because we properly cover our body from head to toe ? Why do we have to be mistreated and condemned for our religious beliefs and for our choice?!

Why, Why, Why is the niqab hated by SO many people?

Well, let's try to clear up some if not ALL misconceptions about the niqab. 

Let us first distinguish between the two: 

BURQA and NIQAB

Niqab: this is the piece of cloth that ties around the head and covers the face except for the eyes (while the body is of course covered).

Burqa: covering the entire face (and body of course) with mesh over the eyes so that the eyes are not visible

Both Burqa and Niqab are a part of Islam  (contrary to what many ignorant Muslims believe and preach i.e-"cultural" it is NOT CULTURAL. It is mentioned in the Qur'an- exegesis, and aHadith of the Prophet peace be upon him), however many scholars of Islam have differences of opinions in such matter (ikhtilaaf). Some scholars say that it is obligatory, and some say that it is mustahaab (recommended). NO BODY is FORCED to wear it (and if they are, then there is something wrong with their understanding of the religion- "Let there be no compulsion in religion.." (Qur'an 2:256.)



and now lets us distinguish between THESE two :

CULTURE vs. RELIGION

Culture: the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.

Religion: a particular system of faith and worship directed to a Higher Power (that being Allah the God of the entire universe that which is in the heavens & the earth and everything in between)..

Doing something culturally means that you are doing it because it is a norm in the society that you live in, whereas religion is based solely around divine acts of worship to please the Creator, Allah, the Almighty. Doing something because of culture does not result in the same rewards as doing something for your religion because doing something culturally would mean gaining the approval and praise of the creation whereas when we do something for our religion, we are doing it to get the reward from the Creator and we are worshiping Him by doing what He has Commanded. Cultural practices may be the norm in a society but it does not always mean that it is correct or morally correct.

So to continue,

Many ignorant people feel inclined to criticize the niqab because they think that the religion (Islam) forces women to cover their faces thus making them oppressed and weak (lol). They think that this piece of cloth that hides all sorts of facial expression is a barrier between the woman and society and they think that it is oppressive and very "old-fashioned." Most of the people who hold such opinions are usually non Muslims however we DO have the occasional ignorant non-practicing Muslim siding with them and the media with regards to this subject, which is totally fine, but to be on the safe side, it is better to not learn Islam from them. 
Most niqabi-haters follow blindly the television and everything that is thrown to them and they do not have a mind of their own to determine what is truth from falsehood. They revolve their education around the television, Islamaphobe websites and Islamaphobe people. They have never met or talked to a single Muslim woman in their life and they are making assumptions based on their lack of knowledge and understanding. They are too arrogant (and lazy) to actually go and do proper research and speak to a practicing Muslim woman, so instead they need to scrutinize, criticize, and patronize these veiled women for their chastity, innocence, and modesty. Subhana'Allah. 

So is it really the piece of cloth that oppress our Muslim women? 

You want to know something interesting?! Before I converted to Islam, I already felt oppressed by society. I felt that there were so many unrealistic standards that I had to live up to! All the beautiful women I saw in public and in the media were always subconsciously pushing me to go above and beyond my limits into attaining true beauty JUST so I could fit into society. I felt ungrateful for everything I had and it made me complain all the time and feel depressed and miserable. I felt ugly, worthless, and unloved because I thought that I was never good enough like those women gallivanting freely on the streets and in the clubs like wild dogs who were unleashed! I just couldn't live up to society's (extreme, unrealistic) expectations! 

Well, after Islam, I felt liberated. I felt that I no longer had to be constricted and tied down to the shackles of society! I had my freedom and I felt beautiful, pure and at peace. I could dress the way I WANTED to, I chose what other people could see of me and my body and I didn't have to compete with women who were not even in the same category as me! 
HOWEVER, I still feel oppressed. The ironic thing here is, it is not my religion that oppresses me, but it is society and it's ignorant masses! The people who judge me for what I wear and who I pray to, the very people who hate my religion because of what the media teaches them, the people who think my religion is the religion of terror because of what their government dictates! How oppressive is that?! I thought that the Western society was all about freedom of choice, freedom of dress, and freedom of religion? I guess it's just something they SHOW in the media (how ironic!) but when it really comes down to it, all society does it talk, talk, talk and no action. Freedom this! Freedom that! But really, who is free and where is freedom? Nowhere to be found! NOWHERE in this dunya! Freedom can only be found in Islam, Alhamdulillah! 

Though society may oppress me because I don't dress the way they want me to or act the way they teach me to, I choose to wear my niqab with pride and honour. I look to those who look to me with evil eyes, and I can't help to feel sorry for them because I was once in their shoes. I feel sad for them because they are so lost in their own dark world that they can not see the light in front of them! They are lost in their darkness and they keep trying to run free from it, but the shackles of society hold them back. That is why my DEEN QUEENS, we must show the ignorant masses the true Islam, the beauty of Islam and the freedom of Islam! We have the best blessings anyone could ever have so we should not keep it to ourselves! We must spread the love and show them that our clothing, the piece of cloth on our face, and our love for modesty is something that we value and cherish. Many reasons why non-Muslims think of us women as oppressed, is simply because they have nobody else to teach them about Islam except for Fox news, CNN and any other deceiving media outlet ! 

We must take some time out of our busy schedules and learn to reconnect with Allah and learn more about following the Qur'an and the Sunnah and its importance! When we want to genuinely understand our deen, then we can learn it, apply it and preach it! It is one thing for us to sit and let others criticize our religion, but it is another thing to do something about that ! Islam is about knowledge and implementing the knowledge! So let us seek more correct knowledge, fall in love with our deen and take the actions to show the ignorant masses the truth (in permissible ways within the Sharia'ah of course!) . May Allah grant us all success in achieving the ultimate goal of spreading the truth and beauty of Islam! Ameen!!! 


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why I stopped blogging!




I apologize that I have not written any new posts for so long ! I guess I just needed to take a break and re-gather my thoughts and renew my intentions! The time I had taken off from my blog also allowed me to reflect upon myself as a whole and let myself explore and learn more about the successful ways to convey the message.


As a revert, I admit when I first became Muslim, I was extremely excited and passionate about conveying the message of Islam. I knew that it was my duty to spread this gift to other people, Muslims and/or non-Muslims. I had all this zeal and I wanted it to be known! Surely one can't blame the excitement of a new Muslim who had suffered the darkness of jahaliyyah (ignorance) and "found" the light of Islam! It is like a child's first day of school! They are so excited and just want to learn everything all at once, meet new friends, and share what they have learnt with everyone! So from our point of view, this is why you notice many reverts who are passionate about the deen and who try to enjoin the good and forbid the evil with a lot of zeal, sometimes maybe TOO much zeal! I admit that I was definitely one of those overly excited new Muslims! This has many benefits but sometimes it can also have detrimental effects to oneself and the ummah! 


I will speak on behalf of my own personal experiences and also from what I have witnessed with many reverts from all around the globe. For me, when I first became Muslim, I wanted the world to know that Islam was the truth and it was the greatest gift to all of mankind. I wanted everyone (Muslim and non-Muslims) to know that living the life of this dunya (temporary world) and chasing all it's glitz and glamour was not worth it nor was it what it seemed to be! I wanted everyone to know my experiences when I was a non-Muslim and just how real and true the beauty of Islam was !!! I was excited and I was on a mission...but I was also ignorant. I took the verses and hadith too literal :


“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:104]  


“You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allaah” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:110] 


 The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; and if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by feeling that it is wrong] – and that is the weakest of faith.” (Narrated by Muslim, 49) 


“The Prophet(SAW) said, (three times), “The Religion is naseeha (sincerity and sincere advice).” We said, “To whom?” He said, “To Allaah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and the general people.”  [Saheeh Muslim No.55]

I tried to exercise these verses and Hadith as much as I could but in the wrong approach. Well, first, what you need to know about me is that I was never raised in a very affectionate-showing household. My parents, being from Hong Kong and a Chinese background, were very strict and straightforward. I was never surrounded by gentleness nor was it common for my parents to outwardly show me compassion or sympathy so it was not something I was used to and it was very difficult for me to show others. That being said, once I converted to Islam, I started to see things differently but I wasn't knowledgeable enough to understand that giving da'wah to others required a lot of patience and there were different techniques for different types of people! I clearly didn't know this and I had dealt with many sisters the way I thought was correct! I thought that being straightforward (a bit TOO much lol) and not being gentle but very firm would get the message across ! I mean I know I am at fault here but at the same time you can't really blame me since the way I had been conditioned was the way I was used to dealing with others! Also because I didn't have enough knowledge being a new Muslimah and all! 
So anyway, my point which I am trying to convey, is that this time away from my blog has really made me realise that being harsh and firm with those who are not on the same spiritual path as we are, is not the correct approach. It is ineffective and if you try to just imagine this, if someone (a stranger or even friend!) was being mean and rude to you, would you really care to listen to them? No! You would not even respect them and you would think  "who do they think they are?!!" The last thing we need is for someone to barge in on our affairs (especially if it was some random stranger lol) and tell us what is right from wrong (even though it is part of the religion to advise others, but there is a special way of doing it) ! Don't get me wrong, sometimes it works with certain individuals (this method of being straightforward and stern) but the general population do not take this kind of approach very well! Gentleness and forbearance is what the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us to be ! Like these beautiful reminder : 

Allah said: "O Messenger, it is a great Mercy of God that you are very gentle and lenient towards them; for, had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would all have broken away from you."(Quran 3:159)

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: While we were in the mosque with Allah's Messenger (pbuh) a desert Arab came and began to pass water in the mosque. The companions of Allah's Messenger said, "Stop! Stop!" but Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said, "Don't interrupt him; leave him alone." They left him alone, and when he had finished, Allah's Messenger (pbuh) called him and said to him, "These mosques are not suitable places for urine and filth, but are only for remembrance of Allah, prayer and recitation of the Qur'an," or however Allah's Messenger expressed it.* Anas said that he then gave orders to one of the people who brought a bucket and poured water over it. (Bukhari and Muslim)


The things I learnt along the way really made me realise that I may have done more harm to others than good! Insha'Allah, though my intentions were to please Allah alone and to spread His deen, because of my ignorance in not knowing how to deliver the message to others, it might have very well caused more harm than good! May Allah forgive me for those people I harmed with my ignorance ameen! 

I learnt and continue to learn that giving naseeha and da'wah to non practicing Muslims require a lot of patience, kindness, compassion, and sincerity ! Really, I can't stress this enough. I noticed a lot of revert Muslims who give themselves the title "Salafi" are so harsh, rude, and absolutely just CRUEL with their Muslim sisters! They are unaccepting and unforebearing to the extent that they cause so much hatred and division in the name of "Salafi" ! This is NOT from the proper methodology of the Qur'an and Sunnah! It isn't even what the prophet (peace be upon him) preached! Nor did his companions and those who followed after them! And I know, I am not innocent either of this harshness that I am talking about! I am very guilty of it and that is why I am obliged to write a post concerning this issue ! We must remember that just because they sin differently, they are still Muslims! How can you expect them to listen to you or follow the right path if you do not approach them with kindness and mercy? Yes, I do admit the famous phrase " only Allah can judge me" is a bit of a defensive emotional response, but we must approach them in a way so that they will not think we are JUDGING them and except that we are only trying to show love to them for the sake of Allah and to also let them know that they are no less or more than we are ! What I really worry is that maybe a sister may not be covering or not following the Qur'an and Sunnah strictly but she may have the best character and manners and be doing more good things in the sight of Allah than I am ! Everybody sins, NOBODY is free of sinning...and what I have learnt is that pointing out my own faults and highlighting them before pointing at others is something that would be more effective. How can we expect to change the ummah when we can not even change ourselves? So many of us busy ourselves in trying to seek out the faults in others when we do not realise that there is so much fault in ourselves that we need to work on! Try your best to look for the good in people and always make excuses for them and when you try to forbid the evil and enjoin the good, do it in a way that will not make the person feel like you are criticizing them, judging them, or attacking them! I have still ways to go with taking my own advice but insha'Allah I can really try my best to implement these important tips I have learnt! I suggest a really great book by Muhammad Al-Arifi (and i know, some of the "salafi" hizb have refuted this brother and the things that were said about him were absolutely just ridiculous! I just want you all to know, the shaykh has helped a lot of people convert to Islam and he has done an amazing job with da'wah....so to the ones who refute, what have you all been doing? Have you been calling people to Islam? Or diverting them? ..Anyway, I digress...this is a WHOLE new topic that I will have to save for another day insha'Allah) ...but anyway...please do take a look at this book "Enjoy your life" by Muhammad al-Arifi ! You can find the pdf online! IT has really opened up my eyes and given me a whole new insight and approach to dealing with people and dealing with myself! Insha'Allah you will find it just as beneficial as I did!