My old “Eating in Niqab” post gets a lot of hits, and whenever I see that people have been reading it, I feel a little guilty. I wrote that back when niqab was still new to me, and it was probably the best I could do at the time. So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
In any case, eating in niqab is a lot easier than I thought. If you are googling this, you have probably just recently put the niqab on. May Allah swt accept from you and grant you steadfastness. Ameen
And if you’re just putting it on, then of course you are wondering how to eat in it. That might just be one of the main differences between wearing and not wearing niqab – the ability to eat in public with ease.
When I was new to niqab, I didn’t find myself in that many public-eating situations. If we visited family friends, I took myself inside a bedroom and ate in there. When I ate out with friends, we would not stay in the restaurant, instead we would either bring the food to our house or to an empty room — somewhere we could take our niqabs off and eat in peace.
Now, years later, I find myself in many more public-eating situations. I can no longer run to the MSA room whenever I want to eat. Well, I can, but then I would either have to be very late to my class afterward, or they would have to call security because Batman is running across the grass towards one of the buildings.
Beside that, I enjoy eating with other people and sometimes don’t feel like eating alone in a room.
Even before grad school, I was in many situations where it was much more convenient for me to eat in public, and I figured out pretty fast that like many things, Practice makes perfect.
So I’ll tell you what I mainly do nowadays. And I’ll make a list, because I know readers find that to be easier to follow, but it’s not in a specific order.
1. If you can avoid it, do that. If you cannot avoid it because it’s actually much more convenient in terms of time, etc. to eat in public (or if you are like me and enjoy eating on the grass every once in a while), then keep reading.
2. My Technique: I reach my left hand around the front of my niqab, latch onto the right of it, and pull it away from me, so that I can go towards my mouth with my right hand. This might have been a terrible description, but there’s no way I’m putting up a picture of that, so I’ll just make dua that you understand what I’m saying. :) Also, if you remember the hitting-the-chin trick (hitting your chin helps you find your mouth), I still do that. It works well with certain foods. Doesn’t work too well if you’re using a spoon. By the time you hit your chin with it, all of that food is in your lap.
3. Is anyone looking? This is where you find a balance between paranoia and not-caring. So if you feel like men will really see your face as you are eating, it might be a good idea to change tactics. If you feel like you’re probably safe, take it easy.
4. Sleeves and Napkin in Your Lap. The most important accessory to have are your sleeves. What makes eating in niqab difficult is that loose sleeves fall back exposing your arms during the process of eating. Wear long sleeves or those sleeves that are probably only sold in Islamic stores (the ones that don’t have the rest of the shirt attached). In addition, place an open napkin on your lap because if food is going to get on you, it’ll probably happen this way: you’re going to your mouth with food and some of it drops in your lap. If a lot of food is spilling into your lap, you might be doing something wrong, but the napkin should be useful for the little bit of food that might fall here or there.
5. Pick out your seat. Select your seat beforehand so that you can sit and pull at your niqab with ease. Now that I have a brother-in-law, I know I always have to watch where I sit so I can eat comfortably. The dining table in my house is familiar territory, but when we are visiting someone or we are at a restaurant, I just make sure I am sitting in a place that is comfortable for me. If I’m not, and it’s too late because everyone already sat down, then I ask someone to switch with me. Usually people figure out why and then move to accommodate you.
6. Not all foods. Listen, the fact of the matter is, you can’t drink hot noodle soup with niqab. Or maybe you can. But I can’t. Soups are one of the things I try to avoid if possible. It can still be done in certain settings, but it usually requires more than what I am willing to do. Last night, my bro-in-law was coming over for dinner at our place, and I knew soup was on the menu. I ate my soup before he arrived, and then joined them later for the main course of the meal. Problem solved. :)
7. Fork and spoon. When I want to eat rice, I use a fork and a spoon. I hold the fork in my left hand and spoon in my right. I use the fork to guide food onto the spoon. It’s easier this way. Before niqab, I could just use a spoon and sometimes enlist the help of my left pinky, but now this is messy.
Please remember me in your duas.
Love you all for the sake of Allah
I’ll leave you all with that
wasalat wasalam alaa rasoolillah
I have lost count of how many times I have sat with a sister only to hear her give a confession within moments of the conversation. I won’t list examples, but what do you even do at that point? I become uncomfortable. I can sympathize with what she is feeling, but she’s just put everyone else in an awkward position. (There is incredible wisdom to the Islamic prescription of hiding your sins). Anyway, I came to call this the Confession Complex.
We’ve all seen or heard of the scenes of people in a church confessing to a priest or minister about their sins. Through this confession is their forgiveness. We know it makes no sense, logically speaking. There is a flawed human sitting on both sides of the wall. Something’s wrong here.
We know that, but I guess the reason these religions were able to get away with it is because they banked on this complex within the human psyche. The desperate need to relieve oneself of a wrongdoing. The need to hear from someone else, It’s okay and you’re okay.
But just as an aside to this [I know it sounds like a rant, but it's not, I promise it's about to make sense] Islam recognizes this innate need in a human being but tells him or her to direct it towards Allah swt, the source of forgiveness. This provides you with the cathartic relief of a confessional, without the shame and confusion that comes with telling another person your sins and shortcomings.
Okay, so another place where I have seen people going into confession-mode is when they are running a blog and they disappear for a few weeks or months. You see, they feel guilty about it, like they’ve done a disservice to those who benefit from that blog. So first, they subconsciously avoid returning. They convince themselves that they don’t have even ten minutes a day to write a post that could benefit others. Then they realize how much they love to write, and how much they miss blogging, and how they really don’t even have any other hobbies (kinda sad, I know, I’m working on it). So they decide they want to come back.
But wait, they say.
I can’t just pop back onto the screen. What will people think?
I shall give a long explanation, one that would involve me losing my breath if I were to say it in person. A long explanation about why I’ve been gone, followed by a heartfelt promise to never leave again.
I was out for a while. I’m back now, alhamdulillah. I am looking forward to writing and sharing again inshaAllah.
It scares me that I even feel like I am speaking to people right now because this blog was originally just for me (actually it wasn’t, but then I realized no one knew about it and it became just for me :D) but now that I see that people have pressed the “subscribe” button… I feel like I owe you guys an apology.
But I hope it suffices to say that I am coming back and hoping to return to writing posts inshaAllah. It was very helpful for me to write, I regret stopping/taking a break. I’ve taken a break from blogging before, but this time felt a bit different, maybe because I actually also slowed down my journaling. So, now I’m back to doing both alhamdulillah. While I’m on it, I encourage everyone to start their own blog and their own journals. (I’ll rant more about that later, inshaAllah!)
May Allah swt allow me to write that which is truthful and benefits you and me. Ameen
My friend and I memorize using the page-by-page method (see HD 14 for more details), and she advised me with the following, but it works for other methods of memorizing as well.
I used to recite the page about 15 times before committing it to memory. Then I would recite it about 5 more times without looking at the page. This would total ~20 reps. If I came back to the page a day later, I could recite it by heart after 15 minutes of review. This made me realize that I needed 15 more minutes of Memorization time. Then my friend mentioned that she was advised to do more reps when memorizing. She told me to do 50/100 reps of a page. It is a goal I am slowly working towards inshaAllah, so here is how it is going so far:
Now I do at least 26 reps for almost every page. It’s only 6 more reps, but it has made so much of a difference. When I come back to it days later, it is easy to recall to memory. On top of this, I don’t move my eyes from the page for many of these reps, especially the beginning ones [before I can recite it without looking] and the ones at the end [after I can recite it without looking]. Sometimes, out of habit, I begin to move my eyes away and fill in the blanks from my memory, but staring at the page while reciting has been better so far because this way, you will commit a picture of the page to memory, as well. Before this, I always had a vague picture of what the page looked like, but now with the constant looking, it has not only made the picture clearer but the picture lasts for a long time. I came back to a page once, (maybe after a week without review), and without looking at it I was able to recite almost the entire thing without mistakes because I remembered what the page looked like. Whenever my tongue was approaching the end of an ayah, my mind would show me the first few words of the next ayah.
In short, just increase the reps (whatever else you need to do can most likely wait 15 minutes). It is better to let the ayaat become ingrained in the beginning, rather than letting them sit on top of your minds like a piece of paper that is blown away by the slightest of winds.
Pinning it down in the beginning will provide the following benefits:
1. Confidence. It will increase you in confidence and make it easier for you to memorize subsequent pages. When your mind knows that everything you have memorized before is very murky, this lowers your morale.
2. Review Time. It will save you time on review.
3. Salah. It will make it easier for you to recite these ayaat in Salah. I have a theory that many memorizers of Qur’an still recite the same few verses or short surahs in their salawaat, because they don’t feel confident enough to recite anything else, although they may have many ajzaa’ of the Qur’an memorized. If we don’t benefit from Qur’an in our Salah, where else are we expecting to benefit from it?
4. Sincerity. It will make you feel better about your hifdh in general because the murky memorization does seem to have some insincerity associated with it, waAllahu Alam. But think about it, isn’t there something wrong with jumping to the next page when you know full well that you have almost forgotten the page before that? Let’s not turn Hifdh into a simple numbers game.
“Looking at the page”
This simply means keeping your eyes fixed on the page and on every word while you are reciting it aloud and doing your reps. It also helps to use a pen or your finger to point. If this is what you already do, keep it up. I didn’t – I used to purposely look away [often] to see if I could fill in the blanks. Even though I could, I never really got a solid picture of the page. Shaykh Fahd al Kendari (see HD 12 Traveler with Qur’an) recommends the following:
After you have memorized the page, recite it 15 more times while staring at the page. It will become glued to your mind and you’ll never forget it inshaAllah.
Also, by keeping your gaze fixed on the page and/or following along with a pointer, you are incorporating more senses (hearing and seeing), and this is supposed to be better for learning.
“All the reps in one sitting?”
I hardly ever memorize a page in ‘one sitting’ if this means that I sit and don’t get up. I memorize with the Pomodoro technique (see HD 14), so I recite for 15 minutes, take a break, and then recite again and so on. I may do my complete reps over a day or two, or more depending on how pressed I am for time and other factors. Even when I’ve done it all within a day, however, I did get up during the process and take a break when I felt like I needed it. Then I went back to doing the reps until I memorized the page.
Another technique that is really helpful is reciting the page 10 times shortly before bed. I noticed that when I do this, it is super easy to memorize that page the next day alhamdulillah.
In 2012, my friend Habibah graduated and received her Bachelors. She had applied to a program at Med-school but had not been accepted.
I began to see her throughout the summer and into the next semester, when I was still attending school, and she would tell me about an intense depression that she was feeling. She felt hopeless and could not imagine things getting better. Her sadness was visible, her presence carried heaviness, and it became rare to see her smiling.
Another brother graduated from six years of Med-School. While he was attending and studying for difficult exams, he was fine. As soon as he graduated, he and his friends sat around in a depression, wondering where to go next and questioning whether or not this was all worth it.
This phenomenon is not uncommon. These are two examples, but there are many (Google it – subhanAllah it’s an actual term) and I’m sure this will resonate with others.
I thought about it and realized that there is only one thing that is lost when someone graduates or meets a milestone that they had been working towards.
Contrary to what some may think, it’s not the loss of a schedule, the routine, or even the friends, that contributes most to this depression.
It’s nothing more than a loss of purpose.
For years, they have been working towards this goal, and this was their purpose. Then one day, the goal is met and their purpose is fulfilled. It seems to be counter intuitive to say that this is when things start to go downhill for them, but upon further thought, it makes all the sense in the world.
The human being needs a purpose. Our Creator ordained it to be this way. And He was so merciful when He told us exactly for what purpose He created us. “And I did not create jinn or man except to worship Me [alone].” Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat, ayah 56.
And He swt was so merciful when He gave us a purpose that requires constant striving, for our entire lives. Even at our deaths, we hope to die with dhikr on our tongues (La ilaha illAllah) – worship.
So the Muslim who realizes his or her true purpose is secured from this type of depression that I have mentioned here. That is because, we may graduate from universities and programs and the like, but our true purpose is not yet fulfilled.
Shaykh Omar Suleiman said:
“Has anyone ever thrown stones at you?”
Those were the words of my teacher to me once when i was complaining about how tired i am traveling and teaching. The point being that truly our jobs are super easy. We fly in comfortable airplanes, stay in comfortable hotels, etc. The most we have to deal with is an annoying person or a cranky TSA agent. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam), the greatest of creation, was spit on, cursed, slandered, pelted with stones, and slept on a bed of branches.
If Allah has blessed you to be involved in Islamic work in any capacity, never show except the highest amount of gratitude and dont ever allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself. Whether you are a volunteer, organizer, speaker, etc. just be thankful that Allah is using you for good without making you go through what others who were far better than you had to withstand.
With that being said, the true soldier in my family is my wife mashaAllah tabarakAllah. She deserves all of the duas and appreciation.
“There cannot be any patience unless you’re certain that your patience is going to come to a result that you want…The reason people disobey Allah and do things their own way, is because they’re not certain that they’ll get the result that they want…if they do it the way Allah says to do it.”
You assume that people become more spiritual as they grow older because they are closer to death. In reality, it’s because they’ve figured out this dunyah.
Weak imaan exists inside of us, [it doesn't exist] in the entire universe around us. Only we change when we have weak imaan. Allah swt does not become less Great. The times do not decrease in their fitnah and tribulations. The Muslims don’t stop being oppressed and murdered. The Day of Judgement doesn’t move further away. And your time of death doesn’t, either. The world doesn’t slow down for your weak imaan and give you time to catch up. You need to wake up and run harder and faster so you can catch up.
From my Journal – February 14th 2013
It is from the Mercy of Allah swt that the world doesn’t slow down for us when we have weak imaan. Otherwise, what motivation would we have to increase. It is only when we open up our eyes to the reality of world around us that we realize our purpose once again.