Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Scarf on World Hijab Day

Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Scarf on World Hijab Day

Written by Gracie Lawrence

In honor of World Hijab Day, coming up this February 1st, I thought it might be fun to list a few reasons why someone might want to participate in this event. (click the link to read all about it and read the experiences of others who have participated in the past.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hijab is a word many Muslims (people who follow the Islamic religion) use when referring the scarf and modest clothing Muslim women wear in religious observance. The goal of hijab is to achieve a modest appearance and let any potential hungry eyes that like to scan the female form know “that this … ain’t happening”.

Actually, there are many reasons Muslim women might wear the hijab, and whether cultural or spiritual, World Hijab Day is a nice opportunity to show a little solidarity with your neighborhood Muslim female who sometimes has to go through a great number of obstacles to continue wearing a symbol she sees as important to herself, to her religion and to her identity.

For a more in depth review on hijab see Hijabology.

Now … introducing … the top 5 reasons to wear a scarf on February 1st: World Hijab Day!

Backpacker-insurance

5. To Increase Your Cultural Cred

Read more

Why I am Not Losing My Religion to Science

Why I am Not Losing My Religion to Science

Written by Gracie Lawrence

science major graphic

I have always been attracted to research laboratories. Walking past them when I was younger and at university, I would peer in as I walked down the halls. Shelves cluttered with clear bottles, scribbled labels with acronyms I didn’t understand, tools on bench tops- many whose shape gave me no clue to their purpose. What goes on in there? What is in that ice bucket? It seemed mysterious, like a secret club of sorts and I wanted to learn the password. I wanted in.

I have since worked in research laboratories for the past 10 years.

Many people do not realize, that despite advances in technology, a lot of biological/medical research can still be very labor intensive, and of course, by its nature, repetitive to an exhausting end. And although much of the reagents and tools have now become as familiar to me as the ingredients in my kitchen cupboard- there is always that excitement about a new project or experiment.

We love you xkcd comics
We love you xkcd comics

But let’s be honest. Science, I am calling you out in public- you’re a tease.

Read more

Image

What Makes Being a Muslim Woman Hard in the West?

Written by Gracie Lawrence

There are tons of scholarly articles that explain the Islamic stance of women- so I am not going to go into that in depth. However, as the internet is also filled with information intent on making Islam look crazy, thanks to some very dedicated groups, here are some more reliable sources for those who are interested in the woman’s role in Islam.

being-muslim-woman-in-the-west-is-hard

 

But in a nutshell, for those who do not know or have the time to research into the above links, here’s a clue:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (Quran 2:228)

Yes, there is a lot in Islam that is about rights between family members (husband/wife/kids), neighbors, business partners, and even between me and you, dear reader. But those “rules” are not what makes being a Muslim woman hard, it is what restores the balance to a system that can be overrun with those who sometime take too much or sacrifice more than they should.

But having a relationship can be difficult, especially when one party is thought of as just a stereotype. And the predominate stereotype that I see about me and other fellow converts- is that we are backwards.

And how do I know that there are many with this belief? Because campaigns like this have to be launched: Not ‘Brainwashed’

For those who absolutely insist that I am backwards because I chose Islam for my life – I doubt I will do much to change your mind if your identity and confidence is built on the misconception that 1. I am oppressed. 2. I am an idiot 3. This poor oppressed idiot of a woman needs saving.

Read more

Image

Call Dr. House and Tawakkultu ala Allah

NeverLupus
Photo Credit: movingtoalaska.wordpress.com

Written by Stephanie Siam

She sits with her rolling chair turned slightly away from the desk, listening patiently as I explain my symptoms and current state of health. When I’ve finished, she smiles kindly. I’ve seen the smile a hundred times. Not on her. On the others.

“So, you’ve been diagnosed with . . .”

I repeat my diagnosed conditions, again, more slowly this time.

“I see. And where … ?”

Again, I tell her I’ve been treated in various countries: the US, Saudi Arabia, and now Oman. I remind her I also go to the university hospital.

“Oh, so you see Dr. Maha?” She looks up, as though my seeing this particular doctor provides evidence of the reality of my claims.

“Saw. I saw her. She discharged me from her clinic.” I say it as politely as possible, but I can feel the loathing inside. Let’s just say, it was a mutual discharge.

“Ahhhh,” she murmurs.

My husband is sitting on the examination table across from me, waiting for the doctor to say what all the rest have.

“Do you exercise?” she asks.

His eyes light up. Bingo!

“Not regularly. No. I hurt. All the time. Everywhere. Everything. All day long.” I’m there for a referral. But before I can get one, I have to play the game of, “You Should Lose Weight”.

Read more

Image

Who Does NOT Speak for Islam

Written by Theresa Corbin

Much has been written about who speaks for Islam. There’s this book, cleverly entitled Who Speaks for Islam, by Dr. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed that discusses this exact topic. There is this recent Pathoes blog post that tackles the topic as it pertains to Americans.

It is an interesting topic since there is no longer a central figure in Islam, thanks 1924 Turkish Republic. JK, we all know it was colonialism.

But I think it is also important to talk about who does NOT speak for Islam. Since it seems every (specifically non-Muslims) one in this anti-Muslim political landscape feels the need to talk about Islam, doing so without even knowing the first thing about the faith.

who does not speak for Islam

The tipping point for me was when I read that one of Trump’s crony’s told CNN that, “Islam is traced patrilineally. I am a Muslim if my father is Muslim,” speaking about the conspiracy theory that President Obama is a Muslim.

I don’t care what conspiracy you ascribe to, but this statement is categorically untrue and ignorant. If this were true of any faith, literally no one would be a follower of anything since its all starts with converts. Faith is not in your DNA, even though many never question the faith they inherit from their fathers.

But the need to talk about this topic has been building for a while. I find it absurdly arrogant and patronizing when non-Muslims feel the need to explain Islam to actual Muslims. It is a version of whitesplaining called Islamsplaining , and it’s exhausting.

So here is a list the kinds of people who often speak their ignorance about Islam without any authority or basis to do so. If you have listened to any of these sources about Islam, considered your information wildly inaccurate.

  1. The Couch Theologian:

    This person has never studied theology in any capacity, usually doesn’t even know much about his or her own faith. But s/he reserves the right to market him/herself as an expert on Islam because s/he watches the news. Because we allllll know that modern Middle Eastern politics is the end all be all of Islamic scholarship (insert massive eye roll here).couch potato

  2. The True (meme) believer:

    This person read a meme once and now believes s/he knows enough about a 1,400 year old faith to be an expert on the topic. Despite the fact that actual experts have studies their entire lives, memorized volumes of books, and sacred text and still consider themselves students. But one meme is enough, right? meme

  3. The Contrived Phobe:

    This is a person who has listened to a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric. S/he has “studied” limited parts of Islam from other phobes, all with the intention of fearing and hating Islam and- more importantly- Muslims. S/he wouldn’t know a confirmation bias if it hit shim in the face. The Contrived Phobe regurgitates talking points, but if you scratch that surface, s/he doesn’t know anything about Islam in reality. Islamophobe

  4. The Anecdotal Evidencer:

    This is the person who starts off most conversations about Islam with “I once knew this Muslim who …” S/he takes everything that someone who looks like a Muslim does as Islam itself. They often think that if your religion is true, all the followers have to act like angels. But the Anecdotal Evidencer reserves the right to excuse all kinds of evil done by his/her own co-religionists.

    source: storify.com
    source: storify.com
  5. The Tourist:

    This person resembles the Anecdotal Evidencer, but has more of it because s/he visited or lived in a majority Muslim country and thinks that the habits of the people s/he sees is Islam itself. But doesn’t think that the habits of the people in majority Christian countries is representative of Christianity.i've been to Islam

  6. The Pandering Politician:

    This person has become very successful in a difficult profession, and wants all to believe that his expertise in that profession translates to expertise in all the things, including Islam. The politician tells lies about Islam to fan fears and gain political currency. It’s called pandering. Read more about this type here.pandering

  7. The Talking Head:

    This person has a radio show or is the host of some Fox news program. They have and maintain high ratings because of the inflammatory ignorance they spew about people who do not look like them or are not from the same socio-economic stratosphere as them, appealing to the majority and exploiting their fears. They know that Islamophobia is trending so they jump on that scare tactic bandwagon to make more money and increase ratings. Their knowledge of Islam is similar too or less then (if that is even possible) the Coach Theologian.why u no

  8. The Fake Experts:

    This is a person that poses in the media as an expert. They may fall into any of the other 6 categories, but have somehow convinced the media that they know more that the average bear, including actual Islamic scholars. But the truth of the matter is that they really do not know much. They are extraordinary pathological liars in that they believe their own lies so well that they have been able to market and sell them. Read more about this type here.

    Hi, my name is Brigitte Gabriel. I only have a high school diploma but Fox News calls me an expert.
    Hi, my name is Brigitte Gabriel. I only have a high school diploma but Fox News calls me an expert.

    I am sure there are more of these types, so let me know which ones I missed.

    Follow us (upper right of the page). Email us (islamwich@yahoo.com). Like our face with your face on Facebook (facebook.com/islamwich). Tumble with us on Tumblr (islamwich.tumblr.com). Pin with us (pinterest.com/islamwich). Follow us on twitter (@islamwich).

    Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.

How I Came to Islam: Stephanie’s Story

How I Came to Islam: Stephanie’s Story

Written by Stephanie Siam

For most converts, the day they become Muslim is like a new birthday. It’s a date that sits foremost in their minds, rolls off their tongues like the alphabet from a kindergartner’s. They may forget their anniversary, ATM PINs or even their private safe combinations, but the date of their conversion is ever-present.

Not me. I don’t remember the most important date in my spiritual history. I know the month (March), and I’m pretty certain of the year (through deduction and certainty of other things going on around that time that I do remember) — 2005. But I have no idea what day I became a Muslim.

Pick a Day
Pick a Day

I do, however, know where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with. The answers, respectively: Mobile, Alabama; walking around my neighborhood; a former friend. But, honestly, not much of that matters. At least not to me.

When I’m quizzed on the details of my conversion, the first assumption people usually make is:

Oh, you’re a convert? You became Muslim for your husband, didn’t you?

Actually, no. I did not. My husband and I were still a year and a half away from meeting each other when I converted. Read more

Hijab for a Day

Hijab for a Day

If you haven’t heard of this international collaboration of women, let me introduce you. It is called World Hijab Day. Since 2013, women from all races, countries, and faiths have shown their support for Muslim women who choose to wear hijab by donning their own scarves. As the slogan states: Before you Judge, Cover Up for a Day.

The initiative was the brain child of Nazma Khan who, after emigrating from Bangladesh to the U.S., suffered isolation, discrimination, and harassment because she wore hijab. Her story here:

As a non-Muslim in 1999, I myself wore hijab for a weekend to an ISNA convention. I was learning about Islam at the time, and what I found was that there was nothing oppressive about the scarf covering my hair or the loose clothes on my body.

I was surprised that I felt less self-conscious about my appearance and more self-possessed in my thoughts and actions. It was an impactful experience. In January of 2001 (two months after I converted to Islam), I decided to make hijab a permanent part of my life.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an amazing lady who participated in this year’s World Hijab Day. And she has been gracious enough to take time out of her week to write about her experience for islamwich. Here is her coverage of World Hijab Day.

side by side Evelyn

Evelyn Ambriz writes:

Throughout my childhood, I was raised Catholic, but as the years progressed, I began to question what the church I attended inculcated in me-I was particularly discontent with the idea of confession, feeling that I didn’t need a mediator to pursue a relationship with my creator.

I began searching for something different and attended Lutheran, Baptist, Non Denominational Christian, Southern Baptist, and Methodist services, but found no home in spite of my involvement within youth groups and even worship bands.

During college, I was able to explore beyond Christianity, which had been so integral for interactions with family, friends, and schoolmates in a very religious and conservative state.

Eventually, I came to feel that kindness towards, compassion for, and acceptance of my human brothers and sisters was more important to me than organized religion; at that point, I decided to just live a life I would look back on and be happy with, with the mantra that “people will remember (above all else) how you made them feel” and believing that we’re all interconnected and should exhibit compassion and love towards one another.

I can say that I believe that there is something greater than any of us out there-I’m just not sure what to call it or what it is.

In spite of my lack of participation within any organized religion, I felt compelled to participate in World Hijab Day for a variety or reasons. As a proud feminist, I firmly believe that EVERY WOMYN (I use “womyn” because I feel that patriarchy is embedded in our language including with the word “wo-men”) has the right to choose their own path, regardless of what others would choose.

I also feel that no one should be judged or persecuted for their beliefs-part of what makes humanity beautiful is our diversity. However, many of us only support others through anonymous words, rarely with action, where we can truly be vulnerable. So, when my good friend from high school, a Muslim convert, posted something about World Hijab Day on Facebook, I knew I had to participate.

I never thought that I would wear the hijab, but I am SO glad I did. photo 2

Throughout the day, friends of mine were confused by me wearing the hijab since I’m not Muslim, but were very supportive once I told them what World Hijab Day is all about: giving non-Muslim womyn the opportunity to see what it’s like to be on the other side of the veil.

My Muslim friends were excited to see me experience wearing the hijab, even if only for a day, and support poured in on Facebook. My neighbors were very pleasant, and I felt comfortable within all of my interactions through the day.

I do acknowledge, however, that I live in a very small and accepting community with a lot of diversity; therefore, my experiences may not be representative of others’.

More than anything, however, it gave me an immense opportunity for self-reflection and self-awareness. I realized how, um, colorful I can be when I speak, since as I wore the hijab, I was very conscious of my words since I wanted respect the sanctity of the hijab and not misrepresent Muslim womyn.

I, without really thinking about it, wore clothes that were looser than usual in order to complement, and again, respect, the hijab–although I did not expect it, throughout the day, I felt feminine and beautiful, and I realized that I didn’t need to wear something form fitting to feel that way.

I loved people focusing on my face, on my eyes, not below my neck or on my usually herstory(distractingly) voluminous and curly hair during interactions; as a bonus, my hair wasn’t all over the place or in front of my face making getting work done much easier. Overall, I felt incredibly empowered.

I did, however, feel somewhat guilty because I received so many benefits of wearing the hijab without the backlash that my Muslim sisters may face; however, when I mentioned this sentiment a particular Muslim womyn, I had the opportunity to hear her tell me that she’s had nothing but positive experiences wearing the hijab and that she too receives support and compliments, reminding me that often times, we hear about the negative much more than the positive, restoring some of my faith in humanity, and frankly, easing some of my guilt.

I was given the opportunities to reflect on the social construction of femininity as inherently sexual and to support the rights of womyn, a small gesture instead of only anonymous words. I am grateful to have experienced a day from the other side of the veil.

It reinforced my support for my Muslim sisters’ choice to wear the hijab and my assertion that the ban in some places and negative view of the hijab is more than a religious issue; it is a feminist issue, it is a human issue-I will always defend my sisters’ right to wear the hijab and will always be grateful for the empowerment I felt wearing it.

-Evelyn Ambriz

We, at islamwich, are so grateful to Evelyn for her love, support, and courage. She is truly our sister in humanity!

Follow us (upper right of the page), email us (islamwich@yahoo.com), like our face with your face on Facebook, like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About Us” page and browse other posts in our “Table of Contents”.