I Am That Hijab

I am that Hijab

A stunning and powerful poem on hijab by guest writer Aatifa Shareef

Originally posted on http://www.igotitcovered.org

I am that Hijab
That cloth, that fabric
That symbol, that fear
In people’s eyes

Why does she wear it?

I am that cloth
Bound
Grippingly around her head
Secure but comfortable
Strong but delicate
Covering her hair, her ears, her neck

I am that fabric
Pinned
Gracefully around her head
Protective but alleviating
Simple but beautiful
Displaying the beauty within, the pride within, the soul within

I am that concept
Placed
Gloriously around her head
Fierce but merciful
Unyielding but blessed
Compelling the wearer to go on, the onlooker to pause, the bystander to ponder

I am that liberation
Wrapped
Graciously around her head
Desired but attained
Unseen but felt
Refusing the persecution, the unwanted glares, the harsh words

I am that freedom
That concept, that liberation
That symbol, that serenity
In her eyes

That is why she wears it.


Aatifa Shereef originally wrote this poem in 10th Grade for an English assignment requiring a creative piece on freedom. The first thing that popped into her mind regarding freedom (ironically to some) was to write about hijab! “I am that Hijab” was previously published in The Columbus Dispatch, and was submitted to this site by the author. In 2009, she graduated from The Columbus Academy in Gahanna, OH, and is currently a freshman at Northwestern University.

The Muslim Woman and Herself

She keeps company with righteous people and joins religious gatherings

In order to attain this high status, the Muslim woman chooses righteous, Allah-fearing friends, who will be true friends and offer sincere advice, and will not betray her in word or deed. Good friends have a great influence in keeping a Muslim woman on the Straight Path, and helping her to develop good habits and refined characteristics. A good friend – in most cases – mirrors one’s behaviour and attitudes:

  • “Do not ask about a man: ask about his friends, / for every friend follows his friends.”47
  • Mixing with decent people is an indication of one’s good lineage and noble aims in life:
  • “By mixing with noble people you become one of them,/ so you should never regard anyone else as a friend.”48
  • So it is as essential to choose good friends as it is to avoid doing evil:
  • “If you mix with people, make friends with the best of them,/ do not make friends with the worst of them lest you become like them.”49
The Muslim woman is keen to attend gatherings where there is discussion of Islam and the greatness of its teachings regarding the individual, family and society, and where those present think of the power of Almighty Allah (SWT) and His bountiful blessings to His creation, and encourage one another to obey His commandments, heed His prohibitions and seek refuge with Him. In such gatherings, hearts are softened, souls are purified, and a person’s whole being is filled with the joy of faith.
  • Abdullah ibn Rawahah (RAA), whenever he met one of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH), used to say, “Come, let us believe in our Lord for a while.” When the Prophet (PBUH) heard about this, he said, “May Allah have mercy on Ibn Rawahah, for he loves the gatherings that the angels feel proud to attend.”50
  • The rightly-guided khalifah `Umar al-Faruq (RAA) used to make the effort to take a regular break from his many duties and the burden of his position as ruler. He would take the hand of one or two men and say, “Come on, let us go and increase our faith,” then they would remember Allah (SWT).51 Even `Umar (RAA), who was so righteous and performed so many acts of worship, felt the need to purify his soul from time to time. He would remove himself for a while from the cares and worries of life, to refresh his soul and cleanse his heart.
  • Mu`adh ibn Jabal (RAA) would often say to his companions, when they were walking, “Let us sit down and believe for a while.”52
The Muslim is responsible for strengthening his soul and purifying his heart. He must always push himself to attain a higher level, and guard against slipping down: ( By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and by its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it!) (Qur’an 91:7-10)
 
So the Muslim woman is required to choose with care the best friends and attend the best gatherings, so that she will be in an environment which will increase her faith and taqwa:(And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.) (Qur’an 18: 28)
47. See ‘Adiyy ibn Zayd al-‘Ibadi by the author, 172.
48. Anonymous.
49. See ‘Adiyy ibn Zayd al-‘Ibadi by the author, 172.
50. Reported by Ahmad (3/265) with a hasan isnad.
51. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/329.
52. Ibid.
[Taken from “The Ideal Muslimah – The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Quran and the Sunnah” by Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi]

The Birth of a Muslimah

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For many female converts who grew up in America, namely those who had lifestyles that were very “American” or different from an “Islamic lifestyle”, most tend to share the same issues when they first embrace Islam.  Do I have to stop plucking my eyebrows?  Can I still wear nail polish?  Is hijab mandatory?  I cant see myself wearing it all the time!  I have to throw away all my clothes.  Wearing a jilbab makes me look like an old lady!  I feel like everyone is judging me! 

These questions and feelings are typical as a new Muslimah is going through transitional phases.  Then you will have sisters in every direction giving advice on what she should and shouldnt be doing or wearing. Although I am sure our dear sisters are well-intentioned, for a newly converted American Muslimah, focusing on these issues may tend to be overwhelming for them.  These issues are what is focused on primarily because they are evident, noticed, on display and subject to judgment.  Of course, there are always exceptions to the case, but for the majority who commonly face these issues, or if you know someone who can relate, this is for you.

Every time we go through a life altering change in our lives, whether it is going away to college, getting married, having your first baby, starting a new career, etc., we are not expected to jump right into the swing of things completely and perfectly.  We will make mistakes, and learn from them while gaining experience.  There will be feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and questioning our capabilities as we embrace this new role in our life.  The same goes for embracing a religion.  It wont be perfect in the beginning.  It wont be perfect even after a few years.  We are human. 

The good news is, that Islam is easy.  Allah never intended on making the religion hard for us.  All those issues are part of a necessary transition that we must go through in order for growth to occur.  Through transition, growth is given room to flourish.  Even though these issues do have a place in Islam, each with its own rulings to abide by, they do not define the essence of what Islam is.  Islam is simple, it is about a very important concept – “Tawheed” or Monotheism.  Giving our Creator His due right of sole worship, in every which way and form, totally belonging to Him and only Him.  This is what separates Islam from every other religion.  From this concept, once it is understood, engrained and firmly rooted in us, all the other little pieces will come together in it’s due time.

I often think about an email that circulates the cyberworld.  It is called “Parent Job Description”.  Here it is:

Continue reading The Birth of a Muslimah