Before I begin, I would just like to emphasise that this written piece is in no way mean to act as a tool to pass judgement upon other sisters – neither does this article intend to cause offence or intentionally hurt the feelings of anybody. Rather this article aims to try and give genuine, practical sincere advice to those sisters that may have or experience difficulties in trying to express their full religious conviction that is accordance with Qur’an and Sunnah. I love you all for the sake of Allah azza wa jal and hope that collectively we can help improve each other in trying to attain the good pleasure of Allah, most Gracious most merciful.
Social expectations and pressures, regardless of one’s age/race/gender, play a vital role in the way others perceive us…but most importantly how we perceive ourselves.
As Muslim women this is something that we know only to well, as we face a plethora of dilemmas living in the in a range of settings such as in society and of our family. One of the most common everyday examples of this is the ever-recurring and ever-constant topic of hijab. We see this contentious issue being constantly raised and scrutinised in the Western political and social arena, as well as the religious arena…and not always in a positive light.
We are made to feel that due to us as sisters, wearing our religiously obligated attire, that we are ‘oppressed’ and are ‘not integrating’ or ‘not assimilating’ into society. Personally, I find that these claims are a great travesty and an utter dichotomy of the ‘difference and diversity’ slogan that many Western politicians try to propagate and champion, but yet choose to often negatively scrutinise the Muslim woman’s attire? Hey Sir, whatever happened to ‘difference and diversity’? (Or are Muslims not included in that slogan?)
Moreover to the point about hijab, for those sisters contemplating outwardly observing the prescribed dress code (or any other obligatory acts of Islam) but have some…reservations or…impediments and are anxious about the opinions and thoughts of others. I will try to offer some sincere words of comfort and advice.
“But it’s just so hard.”
Habibti, when you do something for the sake of Allah azza wa jal all else becomes easy. This is mentioned many times within the Qur’an, for example in Surah Ash Sharh, verses 5 and 6.
“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief, Verily, with the hardship, there is relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).”
Similarly, in Suratul Ankabut, verses 2 and 3 – Allah clearly states how even though we may find things hard, arduous or difficult, that by virtue of being a believer we will incur tests to strengthen our Iman (faith).
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe” and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.”
Therefore, inshaAllah through conviction, perseverance, will and determination – habibti you will overcome this difficulty you may incur. Remember courage is being the way you are irrespective of what another…being (and that’s me just trying to be diplomatic) has to say or do about it. And lastly Allah never gives a person a test more than they can bear.
“Allah tests you because he knows you can handle the affliction: No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear.” – Surah Baqarah, verse 233
Therefore we should not be hung up, or care for the opinions and thoughts of another. Rather one should wilfully accept the test that Allah has bestowed – whatever it may be – and strive our hardest to do observed the commands of Allah azza wa jal…yes even if it means having to bear the brunt of what society has to say. Ultimately our purpose is to please Allah as best we can, not the people.
“I’ll do it when I am ready…or when I’m married or get older. One day…”
In regards to you ‘not being ready’ or you aim to observe it ‘when you are married’ or ‘older’, a question that springs to mind when hearing this defence mechanism is this: Habibti, who guaranteed you that ‘that day’ will be promised to you? …Even though I may be considered young by the standards of society, one must be aware of the unpredictability of life. I’m sure through many of our personal experiences, whatever it may be, we plan meticulously for an event/occasion and at the last-minute it does not go according to plan or gets cancelled altogether…y’know like CSI: Miami on CBS? Or the proposed reduction of tuition fees in the UK by Clegg and Cameron? (OK, that’s a different topic all together! Do not get me started!)
In this Sahih Bukhari hadith: Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, took me by the shoulder and said, ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveller on the road.” Ibn ‘Umar used to say, “In the evening, do not anticipate the morning, and in the morning do not anticipate the evening. Take from your health for your illness and from your life for your death.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Thus, from the hadith this should further increase our awareness at our own mortality and how we should never make long-term plans or have too many expectations…for we do not know if these expectations will materialise tomorrow or in the future to come. After all…we are not taking the opinions and thoughts of a society with us in our grave when we die are we?
As I draw to a close, remember that this advice goes for me also as well as you my dear sisters. Insha’Allah I hope that you found this piece helpful and beneficial in helping you strive to attain the good pleasure of Allah azza wa jal. May Allah make it easy for you all xoxo Amin Amin Amin.
If you are feeling alone and deserted by all in your quest to please Allah, remember that the Prophet (SAW) also felt this way. This is exhibited throughout his life – but especially in the Prayer of Taif:
“O Allah! I complain to You of my weakness, my scarcity of resources and the humiliation I have been subjected to by the people. O Most Merciful of those who are merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you entrusted me?
To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your favor is of a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased.
There is no power and no might except by You.”