Archive for category Especially for the Sisters

7 Ways to Stop Fearing What Everyone Thinks of You

Bismillah alhamdulillah

Source: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/10/06/7-ways-to-stop-fearing-what-everyone-thinks-of-you/

 

The unhappiest people in this world are the people who
care the most about what everyone else thinks.

“What’s wrong with wanting to please others?”

That’s what several people asked me via email in response to one of my recent articles.  Today, I want to discuss why it’s not healthy to try to please everyone, and how to stop yourself from doing so.

Seeking approval from others is perfectly fine up until the point where you are compromising your health and happiness in the process.  It becomes a serious problem if you feel as though widespread positive approval from others is the very oxygen you need to breathe.  There was a time in my life when I felt exactly this way.

I literally felt like I was short of breath – almost as if I’d die if my peers didn’t approve of me.  This is a condition that developed in my mind when I was very young, after kids in grade school teased me for being a “nerd.”  I did everything I could to win their approval.  And although I grew out of my awkward stage pretty early in my teenage years, the damage was done – I was left feeling insecure.  I was conditioned to seek and beg for outside approval at all times.

The big problem was that, as a twenty-something college graduate entering the work force, I felt that anything I did or even thought only had validity if it was the “right thing” to say and think.  And by “right thing,” what I really mean is “what other people thought was right.”  I was terrified to step outside the box of acceptability – which was especially harmful to my creativity as I tried to nurture my passion for writing and blogging.

Once I realized what I was doing, I read several books, spoke with a coach, and focused diligently on healing this broken part of myself.

The bottom line is that constant approval-seeking forces you to miss out on the beauty of simply being yourself, with your own unique ideas and desires.  If you are led through life only doing and being what you’ve come to believe is expected of you, then, in a way, you cease to live.

So how can you stop fearing what everyone thinks of you?  Let’s take a look:

1.  Get comfortable with not knowing what other people think.

When I first started writing on this blog, I’d agonize over whether people would think what I was writing was good enough.  I desperately hoped they’d like it, and oftentimes I’d catch myself imagining they didn’t.  Then one day I realized how much energy I was wasting worrying about it.  So I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing.

Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved.  How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway.  They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.

So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons.  As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Relationships” chapters of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.”)

2.  Know that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.

3.  Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.

How many times have you looked at a person and initially misjudged their brilliance?  Appearances are deceptive.  How you seem to someone and how you actually are rarely congruent.  Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle.  What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.

If someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions based on a more objective and rational viewpoint.  Leave it to them to worry about – that is, if they even have an opinion at all.

Bottom line:  The opinions other people have about you is their problem, not yours.  The less you worry about what they think of you, the less complicated your life becomes.  (Read The Four Agreements.)

4.  Ask yourself, “Does what they think even matter?”

People will think what they want to think.  No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone.  Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?  No, it doesn’t.

How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself means the world.  When you’re making big decisions, remember, what you think of yourself and your life is more important than what people think of you.  Stay true to YOU.  Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.  Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

5.  See the benefit in being unique.

If you’re thinking like everyone else, you aren’t thinking.  And if you aren’t thinking, you aren’t truly living.

It’s human nature to attempt to mimic other humans we look up to – perhaps a parental figure or a celebrity – especially when we are feeling insecure in our own skin.  But attempting to be someone else will always leave us feeling empty inside.  Why?  Because what we appreciate about the people we admire is their individuality – the qualities that make them unique.  To really copy them, we need to develop our own individuality, and in that way, we would actually be less like them and more like our true selves.

We all have quirks and unique perspectives.  The more relaxed you become with your own differences, the more comfortable you will start to feel just being YOU.  Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side… your own special creation.  If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in.  But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

6.  Be fully present and aware of how you DO want to feel.

It’s OK to know how you do not want to feel, but that’s not all you should be thinking about.  Imagine someone trying to learn to read by spending all their time focusing on how they do not want to not be able to read.  It doesn’t really make any sense, does it?

Enough is enough!  Forget what you do not want to feel for a moment.  Work out how you DO want to feel right now in the present moment.  Train yourself to live right here, right now without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment.

If you were delivering life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mom in public, you’d be 100% focused and present.  You wouldn’t be thinking about what bystanders thought of your hair, your body type, or the brand of jeans you were wearing.  All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness.  The intensity of the situation would motivate you to choose not to care about what others might be thinking of you.  This proves, quite simply, that thinking about what others are thinking about you is YOUR CHOICE.

7.  Speak and live your truth.

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say.  Push your concerns of what others might think aside.  Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally.  What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all.  And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you.

Think about it.  Why be fake?

In the end, the truth usually comes out one way or the other, and when that happens, you’re standing alone if you’ve been living a lie.  So live your whole truth starting now.  If someone gives you a hard time and says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you stopped living your life their way.  Don’t apologize for it.  Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.

Afterthoughts

A life spent ceaselessly trying to please people who, perhaps, are incapable of ever being pleased, or trying too hard to always be seen as doing “the right thing,” is a sure road to a regretful existence.

Do more than just exist.  We all exist.  The question is:  Do you live?

I eventually realized existing without ever truly living was not what I wanted for myself.  So I made changes – I implemented all seven of the points discussed in this article and never looked back.  If you are in the same place I once was, seeking approval from everyone for every little thing you do, please take this post to heart and start making changes today.  Life is too short not to.

Your turn…

How has the fear of what other people think interfered with your life?  What has it stopped you from doing?  How have you coped?  Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.

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HD 17: Medical Student : Memorized Qur’an in 2 and a Half Month

Posted by: The Ideal Muslimah January 15, 2014 in

Bismillah

Here’s my quran story summarized with my tips.

First of all, alhamdulilah … alhamdulilah.. Allah has blessed me with this great Amanah (trust) and this great gift.. Alhamdulilah.. And I ask Him humbly to allow me two things: to revise the quran, and to inspire others. May Allah bless you with this great gift. It can be done. All you need is determination and duaa. You don’t even need all the time in the world.

It was a crash-memorization camp, and alhamdulilah/mashallah I finished in about 2 months and half. Alhamdulilah I was on vacation for part of my memorization journey, but for the majority I was busy, still going to school (the hospital, 5 days a week). Still having to see patients, still getting in trouble with doctors for slacking off. Although I wasn’t studying, time really was not on my side- but I realized that’s not what’s most important. Many girls in the actual camp finished in 2 months, and the first girl finished in one month. It really is possible!

I was supposed to finish in 2 months exactly- 10 pages a day. Most days I could do this, but on days I couldn’t I would make it up the next day if possible.. which is fine- still worth it. Still, make your goal big.. Reach for the moon and you will land among the stars!

Here is a general idea:

Pages/Day

How long to finish

Notes

20

1 month

Nice if you have a month off, and can use your time only for Quran

10

2 months

Very feasible- long enough to finish, short enough not to lose motivation

7

2 months and 3 weeks

5

4 months

Nice if you have semi-work load.

2

10 months

Worth it if you have a good one hour a day.

1

20 months (1 yr, 8 mo)

Here are my humble tips:

  1. Seek Allah’s help. Make duaa. When you reach Juzu 7.. or 14.. or anything.. and you start to lose motivation- turn to him. They are His words and He alone can teach you them.
  2. Get a portion done in the morning, especially if you are busy. The days where I could manage at least 1-2 pages before noon, made the 10 pages much easier. If I started after noon, it would take longer. #EarlyBirdBarakeh
  3. Cancel Stuff. Say No more often. You have to cut back on some things you are used to. Its just the way it works. Even if you do have time to do other things, you don’t have the energy. Too much non-quran things really takes you away from the mood. If your friends start to get annoyed by how much you are saying no recently- then you are doing it right.
  4. Find Recitation Coach(es). I couldn’t stay with the camp the whole time- so I would recite to my mom, sister, and friends. Try to stick to a couple people but have more than one person. If you need to recite and the person is busy you will get discouraged- so try to have a back-up. I used to even recite on the phone sometimes!
  5. Memorize and recite DAILY. No days off. None. Even if you memorize only page and your goal is to memorize 10. It has to become a habit. Plus, you start one page… then the next page looks easy.. then the next one goes fast..
  6. Big chunks are easier! I used to think memorizing one page a time is faster- but actually.. memorizing 4-6 pages at a time makes it go faster. Its like your brain gets into “memorization” mode-and whats you recite to someone else its hard to get back into “memorization” mode to start again. So if you are doing 10 pages, try to memorize 6.. recite them to your “coach”, then the 4 pages will be easy inshallah. Even memorizing all 10 is not that hard!
  7. Don’t tell too many people at first. Because it gets kind of stressful when they keep asking where you reached, how many pages you’ve done, etc. Tell your “coaches” and tell your close friends for motivation and to not lose sight of the goal.
  8. Free your Mind-more than your time! It’s not about how many hours you have a day as much as how much you need to reduce mental clutter. I can get much more done in 2 hours relaxed than in 6 when I am worrying about something. The Quran does not enter with chaos. So before you start, make your to-do lists and put them aside, get essential things done, free yourself from worries and commitments. If anything worries you while you are memorizing, remember Shaytan doesn’t want you to focus and that the Quran will take care of your worries.
  9.  When you are sleepy-do one more. I don’t even know why. I guess its just about pushing yourself. But I always felt barakeh when I did 1-2 more pages at night when I was getting sleepy rather than giving up.
  10. 10.Motivate yourself with baby steps. Its daunting to be in Surat AlBaqara and be dreaming of Surat AlNaas. Just keep imagining how happy you will be to be in the next surah or next few juzu2s. When I was in the 13th I would be like: ya rab.. I want to reach 15…the middle. Then in 15- Ya rab, I want to reach 20th juzu2.. the majority. Then in the 20th.. Ya rab- till the 25th so almost nothing is left.. Then, ya rab- I have to finish!!
  11. Use one Mushaaf . Don’t switch around. I used mine every single day. And I used a pencil to mark around words and underline ayahs. And post-it notes for the next juzu2 so I would get excited to reach it. Try to get a standard size quran- too small is hard to memorize from. Too big is hard to hold. Avoid electronic Mushafs- they personally give me headaches and I find take more time. Plus you cant write on them.
  12. Phone- silent. Far away. I muted almost all notifications.
  13. Find your memorization-style. My best memorization technique is sign- language! I look hilarious when I recite something I know well. I memorize it all with hand gestures. It really helped me. I also sometimes would write them out, or write out the beginning of each ayah. Walking also helped because it gave me energy-but only for a few pages at a time. Listening to ayahs is nice-especially if you have trouble reading- but is time-consuming. But please do this if you can’t read it well because the worst thing you can do is memorize something wrong the first time.
  14. Divide page into halves or thirds-then glue together. Do one ayah, repeat a couple times. Do the next ayah, then repeat it with the one before it. Divide the page in halves or thirds depending on how many ayahs a page, then try them together at the end.
  15. When reviewing a large amount, review the BEGINNING of each ayah. When you keep repeating an ayah, chances are if you can start it you can finish it. So don’t waste your attention re-reading the whole page. Just test if you know the beginning of each ayah.
  16. Stay away from sins… but when you mess up- repent and keep going.
    Shaytan will tell you: there’s no point to memorize- you are a sinner. Or will remind you of a sin so that you feel that you can’t memorize. Seek refuge from Allah and keep going. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Holy Book from Allah teaching us how to live our life. You won’t be perfect by the end.
    This is us trying to come closer to Allah as humans. Seek refuge from the shaytan, say Bismillah- and #justkeepmemorizing.
  17. Take breaks after reciting to someone- not after memorizing. I don’t know if this just worked for me- but I always found it more efficient. And don’t make them long. 10 minutes are a good refresher. More than that and you will lose the “memorization- mode”
  18. Find a partner. Or a group! Make it a challenge for those around you. Even away from the camp I was motivated thinking of the girls sitting memorizing at the camp working towards my same goal.
  19. Try to stay focused. When you take too long on one page because of distractions or daydreaming- it takes extra extra long. Stay focused, finish the page, then take your break.
  20. Not all ayahs are the same. Some ayahs are harder, you will have to find new ways to memorize them or repeat them more. That’s fine.
  21. Set time goals. I used to always have a max goal of half an hour per page. More than that- and I knew I was doing something wrong or not focusing. Sometimes it takes less- which is great! Just don’t lose track of time.
  22. Make connections. Sometimes I would relate one word with one word in the next ayah. It really helps. For example.. an ayah that has my friends name, and the next ayah would remind me of another friend. So I would connect those two words to tie the two ayahs together..
  23. Look up tough words. Sometimes understanding that ONE hard word in the ayah- makes you understand the ENTIRE ayah which helps you understand the page and really helps you memorize. Too much tafseer while memorizing makes it harder- you start to understand it but forget the actual words.
  24. Tarteel later.. (Tarteel: slow, beautified recitation) I suggest that you don’t keep repeating each ayah with full tarteel when memorizing- it takes too long if you are aiming for a short time-frame and sometimes you memorize the “sound” and not the actual words. When I would memorize I would repeat them relatively quickly- to not lose energy or focus. (When you are done memorizing- enjoy your tarteel.)
  25. Once you finish, start planning your revision strategy. It is not a once and for all thing, and revising is essential! Especially if you finish it in a short time period.
  26. Ayahs about stories are the easiest! Enjoy them!

A few Notes:
For all those who asked, I do speak and read Arabic, and I have been alhamdulilah learning tajweed and Arabic for years. For those who do not speak Arabic or know Tajweed it would be best if you spent some time learning those first so you can memorize it correctly the first time.

Also, I know from all my role models who memorized the Quran before me that you must memorize it several times. I realize that I have a lot of revision to do, and May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings, but we really do have to start somewhere..

Hope these help.. I ask of whoever is reading this to please keep me in your Du’aas..

May Allah bless you with memorizing the Quran and practicing its meanings.. And May the light of the Quran illuminate your path always.

And Allah Knows Best…

Bushra Tbakhi is a medical student in her final year. She loves writing.
Edited by Shamsiya Noorul Quloob ♦

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Eating in Niqab – Part 2

 

Bismillah alhamdulillah

 

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

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*An Appeal to My Sisters in Islam: Take the Pictures Down*

Bismillah walhamdulillah

wasalamu`alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh,

I have been wanting to say this for a long time, and yesterday I had that final push. That thing that happens that makes you wish you said something sooner.

There was an event at my University that was informing the masses about a movement to divest in a country that was oppressing Muslims. To make a long story short, the event became a huge controversy and some people had to wait in line for hours, in the cold, in order to attend. Metal detectors were set up. Protestors from both sides stood holding their signs and shouting their slogans. They were encircled by metal bars, with police officials surrounding them. There were news cameras left and right, and reporters were eager to catch a shot of the people waiting in line to attend.

Being one of the first people on the line and being very visibly Muslim, my friends and I were approached many times for an interview or a picture, etc. When we were asked, we thanked them for asking and politely refused. When we weren’t asked, we made sure the picture was deleted and the video camera did not have a shot of us (not quite as politely…). Later on in the day, when I had moved to another line (last minute change of rules), I stood with another group of sisters. I knew almost all of them from the college. They were my sisters in Islam and I felt comfortable standing amongst them. I was the only niqabi in the group this time. Usually that is of no import, but it is relevant to this story.

A man with a camera approached us for a picture. I immediately thought of what message he was going for (“a group of young Muslim girls waiting in line for the event”) and felt annoyed. To add to that, I experience instant annoyance at someone who is so eager to get a picture of Muslim women, being that the majority of us wear some type of obvious religious garb, because of the feelings it evokes (“I think you are strange looking, but oh so interesting!”)

“Could I get a picture of you?” he asked, drawing parentheses around five of us, outlining the frame of the picture with his hands.

My face, which he couldn’t see, immediately went straight and cold.

“No, not of me.”

I forgot everything around me. I forgot that I was standing with sisters and tuned everything out. I was focused on making sure he knew he wasn’t getting a picture of me. As I began to walk backward, away from his camera, one of my friends on my right shoulder spoke.

“I’m trying to remind you that you wear a niqab,” she said, smiling in an almost motherly-way.

I still couldn’t fully tune her in, I was focused on getting away. I continued to make my way to the back, while the rest of the sisters moved up to be in the picture. A second later, I leaned against the metal bars that surrounded the building and looked in, my heart breaking at the fact that these sisters had so willingly allowed this man to take a picture of them. Of their faces, of their eyes, of their smiles.

Later on I wondered why they did not stop to think to themselves, “if this sister whose face is covered is refusing to have her picture taken, there must be a reason.”

So this incident was the push. I need to get this message out there to all sisters.

I ask that Allah swt allow my words to enter your hearts, and that He swt protects us from the whisperings of Shaytan, who is an open enemy to man.

Sisters, regardless of what opinion you follow regarding the niqab, or of how you currently feel about abaya or hijab, regardless of what you think is correct or necessary in regards to a woman’s dress, regardless of what you envision your future to be (in terms of religion and dress), regardless of what you think of photographs; regardless of all of that, I advise you with the following:

  1. Don’t allow strangers (or even acquaintances) to take pictures of you.
  2. Don’t post your pictures on Facebook (yes, even if your profile is private).
  3. Keep track of who has pictures of you, and the best way to do that is to keep track of who is taking pictures of you.
  4. Be mindful of pictures that you have of other sisters, and what you do with them. If they are on your phone, put a pass code on it. Don’t post them up on Facebook,  (yes, even if they give you permission to do so).
  5. If you already have pictures on Facebook, do what you have to do, but get them off of Facebook and any other social media site.

I’m sure more than one person reading this has already thought to themselves, “Wow, this sister has gone off the deep end.” So I hope that they will be open-minded, and that I will be given a chance to explain. This post is not written with the intention of convincing sisters to cover (if this is what you are looking for, you can listen to this); I have a different goal in mind today. I don’t know many of you who are reading this, but I love you simply because you have imaan in Allah swt and His Messenger, Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). So allow me to begin…

Six years ago, I would have never thought that I would be wearing a niqab one day. Never. I was an average Muslim girl in high school. Picture-taking was no big deal to me; in fact, it was a disgrace to not have a lot of pictures in the Yearbook. Posting pictures online and on Facebook was the thing to do. If your profile picture wasn’t a picture of your face, either you were unhappy with the way you looked or you were too religious. This was the mindset. (You know it’s true.)

When I began to cover, it was a process that took place over time. First the skirts, then the abayaat (long loose dresses), and then finally the niqab. Taqabbal Allah (May Allah accept, ameen). During the time this change was unfolding, I had a Facebook. I may have deactivated it here and there, but for the most part, I was on it.

And I mean… I was really on it – my pictures were on Facebook. Old pictures, from before I began to wear niqab. Of course, I had deleted the ones that were on my account; may Allah swt forgive me, He is the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy.

And I don’t remember now how it happened, but I had deactivated my account for a long period of time and when I came back on it, I saw pictures of myself, pictures that I was “tagged” in, on other people’s accounts… My heart sank. There were still pictures of me out there. I was mortified.

I still remember the winter mornings when I would sit at my desk and make lists in my blue spiral notebook. I would make a list of names of the people who had a picture of me on their profile, whether I was in the forefront or in the background. I would find the album name, as well. And I would send them private messages, asking them for their email addresses.

I would email them (or private message them if it was easier), ignoring the social unacceptability of what I was doing – I was asking people that I hadn’t spoken to for years, to take down my pictures, and for religious reasons. Many of them were understanding and compliant, but not all of them. I remember one old “friend” who just did not want to take my picture down (it was a picture of me and her), and we went back and forth. I had even gave her alternatives: “Okay, what if I just crop myself out for you?”

Finally, she complied as well. Another one, even after earnest requests, ardently refused, because the album was “private.” It just goes to show you, that there is a possibility that someone may refuse to take your picture down when you ask them to!

And whenever a picture went down, I crossed it off of my list. Some mornings, I would dread opening up my blue spiral notebook, and I would dread even more, opening up my Facebook account. But I knew I had to do it. So I pushed through the discomfort and ignored that annoying knot in my stomach.

And as a disclaimer, I actually did not have that many pictures on Facebook; much less than any average Facebook user today. Yet, this is what I went through to have my pictures removed. So what will others go through? Do you think you could take them all down in a matter of minutes? Because mine certainly did not come down that quick.

Anyway, the pictures were taken down one by one, walillahil hamd.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it: what about all of the people who had seen them? I knew that couldn’t be undone. And I could only hope that Allah swt would forgive me and have mercy on me, and cause those people to forget.

What about you, my dear sis?

Do you want to go through what I went through? You may be thinking, “but I don’t plan to wear niqab, or to cover, and it doesn’t bother me that my pictures are on Facebook.”

To that I would say: I was saying the same thing just a few years ago. You don’t know what Allah swt has in store for you. You don’t know, perhaps Allah swt will guide you to Him, and will guide you to wearing abaya and then niqab. You don’t know, maybe one day you will wish that your pictures were not plastered in so many places. On this person’s account, and in this album. In the front of this picture, and in the background of that one. But by then, it will seem like an impossible mission for to you to take them down, and you may find yourself giving up before you even try.

And by the way, I know Facebook was mentioned throughout this post, but I am referring to pictures on any online source (WordPress, Twitter, yes even LinkedIn!) because the world-wide-web is exactly that – it’s a WORLD WIDE WEB – an enormous mass of disentangled boundaries.

Sister, you don’t know who is looking at your pictures (yes, even if your profile is private; this is 2013, please wake up!) and with what intention they are looking at your pictures. As shaykh Omar Suleiman once mentioned at a class: “You can put up the most decent picture of yourself, wearing hijab and abaya…but now, what if a 50 year old man is looking at your picture lustfully?” (paraphrased)

I know this is something that is so widely accepted in today’s world, and that to some, this sounds like the rantings of an extreme Muslim woman. For the record, I don’t know of a single person, Muslim or NonMuslim, who knows of me personally, who would call me “extreme.” I am your neighbor, your classmate, your friend and your sister. And I am a Muslim, so please don’t add any qualifiers.

And I am writing this to save you from what Allah swt saved me from. No one advised me of this, ever. Even up until today, I have never heard of these words coming out of another sister’s mouth. Do you know why? Because those of us who wish to say it, are afraid that others will be offended and will not wish to listen to anything we say in the future. We are afraid that you will just brush it off as just another thing that the “strict Muslims” don’t want you to do; just another pleasure they are trying to take away from you.

Think about it. What will I get from you listening to this advice?

And have you ever stopped to wonder why Shaytan places so much animosity in people’s hearts towards “strict Muslims” (whatever that means). Could it be that he will gain from that? Yes. Do you ever stop to think why there is so much shamelessness in the media, and yet, at the same time, the hijab is being banned? Did you ever stop and think about how insane that is? Did it cross your minds that today’s society is heading in a very specific direction, one that is far from what Allah swt prescribed for His slaves? When I stop to think of what is out there in today’s world, in terms of fitnah, I become depressed, but then I put myself together and push forward even harder. Don’t just follow the crowd:

“And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s Path. They follow nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie.” Surah Al An’aam

Be a leader and make the change, in yourself, and in others.

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I do not normally request for my posts to be shared like this, but I am asking you to please re-post this and spread the message as wide as you can (you don’t have to include a link going back to my blog, in fact I prefer you don’t). Muslims are in a humiliating place today. We claim that we want the oppression to end. If we want victory for the oppressed Muslimeen all over the world, then we cannot have that until we change ourselves for the sake of Allah.

For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of Allah. Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah). But when Allah wills a people’s punishment, there can be no turning back of it, and they will find besides Him no protector. (Surah Ar-Ra’d, ayah 11)

Protecting the honor of the Muslim woman is a big step towards that change, a much bigger step than you know.

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Stranger in my House

Bismillah walhamdulillah

My older sister recently got married, so that means we have a new addition to the family. For the first time in my life, I have a brother-in-law.

During the months that I’ve known him, I’ve probably only had one conversation with him. It was in the presence of my father and sister, while he was sitting in the seat in front of me in the car, his back turned to me, and it was because I wanted help regarding my physical health because he is a doctor. It may already be apparent, I go to great lengths to avoid having to speak to him. And he knows this. He also knows that this doesn’t mean that I “hate” him. I feel like a lot of people assume that if you are not speaking to them, it means that you either hate them, or are too shy. My brother in law, let’s call him Fahad, knows that none of these is true. He has cracked the occasional joke, relayed to me from my sister, that I sound like a “robot” when I answer the phone, and that I speak monotone, but it seems that he’s picked up on the fact that I do all of those things intentionally.

The brother in law is death(1). And I know why. Regardless of the fact that I barely acknowledge his existence, I found myself becoming comfortable towards him and thinking of him as a brother. When I would notice this, I would quickly remind myself “this is why the brother in law is death.” The brother in law is the non-mahram that you have the chance to get the most comfortable with and the one that it is most dangerous for you to get comfortable with. If anyone is still skeptical, listen to this: I remember Shaykh Omar Sulaiman mentioning in a class “You don’t know how many phone calls I’ve gotten from sisters who say to me, ‘I don’t know what to do – my brother-in-law just made a pass at me.'” The Messenger of Allah (saws) spoke the truth.

The fact that I wear the niqab has helped so much subhanAllah. I don’t think there could possibly be any bigger sign, for him, that I am very serious about Islam. His family is from a Muslim country, so his sister also wears niqab, but it seems that she only wears it in that country. In the beginning, he had probably expected the same from me. I think he quickly got the message though. He’s seen me do things like leave a restaurant with loud music, rebuke people who are backbiting, and stay fully-covered around him, that if he had any doubt before as to kind of person I was (or would like to be), then the doubt was removed and he quickly accepted me as I was.

And I would hear from my sister that he said that he found me “scary.”

Why?

“She’s so focused.”

And he has said “I like her.”

Why?

“She keeps to herself and minds her own business.”

The fact that he cannot see my face, has helped a great deal because the truth is, I’m not a very “serious” person, nor is it easy for me to stay quiet while we are all at the dinner table talking, and he happens to be there. I’m actually very jokey in nature as well as quite social at times. The act of lifting my niqab in order to eat is my reminder at the table- “Fahad is here, careful.” And it’s a sign for him, because he assumes that since he can’t see my face, I am not smiling at the jokes and not interested in the conversation, and this is what I prefer for him to assume.

Before Fahad, I did not used to have to walk around my house in niqab except occasionally when we would have a plumber or electrician-type-of-person come by to fix things. Now, it’s become very common-place for me to be wearing a niqab at home. My family is all very used to it and no one comments on it, alhamdulillah. I even have a slip-on-hijab which makes it much easier, and I try schedule my wudoo in the bathroom before he gets there so I don’t have to do one of those take-off-hijab and socks-and-then-put-them-back-on wudooo. If I ever for a split-second find myself thinking that this is not fair for me to have to be covered even in my own home, I remind myself of how grateful I am to be able to wear the niqab, and all of a sudden, I don’t mind the least bit.

If wearing niqab were not “strange” enough, then wearing it at home or in front of family would take the cake. But a non-mahram is a non-mahram, just remind yourself of that, and it makes it easier. And stay firm in it. One of my parents still gives me a hard time, not in front of Fahad, about wearing my niqab in front of my brother-in-law.

“He’s like your brother!”

“I only have one brother,” I respond calmly.

Don’t lose your cool, but stay firm, it always gets easier bi’ithnillah.

 

(1) The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No man should be alone with a [non-mahram] woman.” And he said: “Beware of entering upon women.” They said, “O Messenger of Allaah, what do you think about the brother-in-law [meaning the husband’s relatives]?” He said, “The brother-in-law is death.”

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Jealousy: The Green-eyed Monster by Navaid Aziz

 

Parts 2-5 can be found on youtube. The entire lecture is very nice and worth the time, inshaa’Allah.

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“Just wave your finger”

Bismillah walhamdulillah

(Note: I’m using an alias for obvious reasons, so no, I have not revealed my real name here.)

How professors deal with niqab… lol where do I start

The most interesting response to the niqab that I’ve gotten from a professor, occurred yesterday. So I wanted to rush to get it down on paper (cyber-paper).
I recently started a Counseling degree program. I think it is safe to assume that I’m the first niqabi to ever be accepted into, much less to accept the offer of joining, this program.

I walked into my first class, just about a minute early. This is quite an achievement for me, so I was a bit disappointed to see that he had already skipped my name on the attendance.

“Ms. Rafique…?” said the professor in a super-polite way, (but I had already been warned that he was an extremely polite guy).

“Yes.” I took my seat in the front, true to my nerd-like self.

He finished up the attendance and began his lesson. He had joke after joke, until I began to think that he prepared jokes for his first lesson in order to make it less awkward. Appreciating a good joke when I hear it, I chuckled lightly under my niqab, as well.

At one point, he stood directly in front of me, and looking straight at me for about 2 seconds, he says, “If any of you are having trouble understanding anything I am saying, but feel too shy to stop me and say so, just wave your finger.” And he demonstrated by waving his own finger.

He’s talking to me, I know it… lol what should I do… It’s okay, he’ll figure it out eventually…

I continued to pay attention to his jokes — I mean, lesson. Since the class was a bit longer than a usual class, he gave us a ten minute break.

I pulled out my phone and checked my messages. Meanwhile, a classmate of mine asked about internet at the college, and being familiar with this college, I answered her.

The professor was not in the room when this exchange took place, so keep that in mind while you read the rest.

He walked back into the room and towards my desk. My head was down, looking at my phone.

“Ms. Rafique…?” lol this guy is so polite, it’s killing me

“Yes?”

“May I please speak to you outside?”

“Sure.”

I didn’t give any thought to why he asked me to step outside with him. I grabbed my phone, only worried that I might be robbed in my absence lol, and followed him outside.

He took a few steps away from the door and then turned back towards me and asked in a low voice, “Is English your native language?”

Keeping in mind that this situation was supposed to be an awkward one, and that he was a male professor, although quite elderly, I decided it was not wise to laugh. But I could not help smiling at his statement.

No way, he did not just say that…

“Yes.”

“Okay — If you ever need to pray, you can just leave and do that, you don’t have to ask.”

“Oh okay, thanks!” I said, surprised at the courtesy. Later on I realized, he probably had to mentally prepare himself for asking me that question, and it probably went like this in his mind: “Okay, I’ll just ask her, and then I’ll quickly slide in something about her having to pray, and it’ll all look super natural. Yes, phew, I’m ready.”

lol

We walked back inside and he began the second-half of his lesson.

I took my seat, a bit confused. I didn’t know how I should feel. Embarrassed? Offended?

All I could think about was how amusing it all was.

As he continued to talk, I began to get the feeling from him that he was in grave doubt. In grave doubt about whether or not I could actually speak English because so far my responses to all of his questions were so short, that I could’ve easily learned it in a week spent in the country.

I decided to put him out of his misery, and wow him with my English — the only language I’m extremely fluent in, mind you.

I raised my hand to answer one of his questions.

Looking super-excited, he said “Yes, ma’am?”

…Don’t laugh…

As I answered him, I became super aware of my accent — or rather lack thereof. I glanced at his face and noticed him squinting at me, as if trying hard to understand.

All right buddy, now you’re just playin

But he got to hear my English, and I got to sit back and relax the rest of the period.

He did seem like a genuinely nice and concerned fellow, may Allah swt guide him to the Haqq. Ameen.

And I had the chance to laugh about all of this that evening with my brother. He was cracking up even more than me, and giving me all of these funny suggestions for what I should’ve done to really confuse the poor guy lol.

Good times, alhamdu lillah :)

wasalamualaykum

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Push Yourself and Others to Start Hijab — Deen Show with Br. Mohammad Abu Abbaad ElShinawy

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Please watch and share. I wish that I had access to spread the new of the command of hijab to all of the sisters in the world… it frees the soul from so much evil. May Allah swt grant honor to Islam and the Muslimeen.

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“She took it off!”

Bismillah walhamdulillah

I tend to have long delays between when the idea of a post comes to mind (when something very meaningful happens) and actually writing it. This isn’t good because in that time, I may lose out on essential details, or enough time passes, I may never write it. So here goes.

I attended an all-sisters Ramadan event recently. It was very well organized and the atmosphere was amazing. Having just returned from travels abroad and being away from righteous company for so long, I felt so much happiness being in that room full of sisters who were striving for the same goals. Being unable to hide my happiness, I began to talk quickly and excitedly as I sometimes do. Every now and then, it would occur to me to take it down a notch, so I would try, but it wasn’t too successful.

Even as the speakers spoke, I would become distracted as a sister in niqab crossed the room, throwing her niqab down to cover her face because of a transparent door on the end of the hall. The chances of a man passing by and looking in were miniscule, but she had such hayaa’ that she didn’t care. And there were more just like her. The speaker, for example, was a sister in niqaab. She sat facing that transparent door which was, again, far down on the other side of the hall. It was far enough that even if a man were to stop and look in for some reason (and he would be looking in from the sidewalk), he would not be able to make out any features. But again, this sister had such hayaa’ that she gave her entire speech with her niqab on, only removing it she finished and came down from the stage to sit with the audience, with her back to the door. The environment was a fresh and much-needed dose of imaan.

As I was getting ready to leave, I stood at the back of the room, near the bathroom. I wanted to wash my hands so that I could shake hands with sisters before leaving. I don’t have OCD, but I had been ill and was afraid I was still contagious.

As I stood there, waiting for the bathroom, two sisters walked in together. They had missed both speeches but the event was still going on.

I saw them standing there, almost hesitantly, as if afraid of disturbing the event by looking for a place to sit. I pointed out empty seats to them, and in an encouraging tone, I told them they should sit.

From the corner of my eye, I saw one of the two sisters look at me, look away, and then look back at me. I did not look at her, but I could almost tell that she was deciding on whether or not to say salaam or to run and hope I didn’t notice her. She then smiled and gave me her salaam. I leaned forward to hug her and finally recognizing her face, I returned her salaam with a big smile.

Then as I pulled away from the hug, I was confused. I think I know who this sister is, but I’m not too sure because she is a niqabi so I’ve rarely seen her face. But what is making it even more confusing is that she is not wearing the niqab right now.

With a puzzled look on my face, I looked at the other sister, as if to ask “Wait, who did I just hug?”

She responded back in a whisper, because the event was still going on.

…Yep, it was her.

Okay, she’s not wearing her niqab. Immediately I began to make excuses for her. Perhaps she knew it was all-sisters event and she removed it at the door. Although this was unlikely because I had known her to always wear her niqab inside her hijab. No, maybe she changed her niqab style and now she wears the kind that are on the outside and easily removable.

Okay, you know what. It’s okay, don’t worry about it.

That lasted for about a minute, and it quickly went away.

My phone rang, it was my sister. “Come out, I’m here.”

I rushed back to my seat, grabbed my things and left.

Days went by and I did not give it any thought.

The end.

Just kidding :) So…what was the point of mentioning all of that?

Okay, so a sister removed her niqab. Maybe many of us have seen it (with niqab or with jilbab or hijab).

What’s the wrong reaction?

“Omg sister, astaghfirullah, how could you?!”

Even if no one really says it out loud, many people react this way in their minds. They should know that their thoughts will eventually manifest in their actions, whether they realize it or not. It could be something as simple as a fading smile, avoiding eye contact, awkward behavior, etc. And this sister will more likely than not, pick up on all of it.

What is the right reaction?

Well, it’s hard to give one answer for this. So I’ll put it this way:

  1. That is still your sister in Islam, you still love her for the sake of Allah. Be careful how you treat her.
  2. You don’t know what she is going through right now. Maybe she just needs a comforting friend, or someone who will be there for her at a time of difficulty. Maybe she needs you to assume good of her, and not jump to conclusions and assume the worst. You looking down at her is not going to improve the situation in the slightest.
  3. If you are truly concerned for her, make dua for her and talk to her about it (if you are close to her). Don’t talk to anyone else about it and don’t sit alone ruminating on it. Make a sincere dua for her when you are making dua for yourself. And if you can’t even talk to her about it directly, just make sure she knows that you are there for her if she needs you, that you assume the best of her, and that you are not judging her.
  4. The same way she removed her niqab, she can put it back on. It’s not a one way street. It is a struggle that lasts until you leave this world, just like every other act of worship. Treating people badly when they remove it will not make them want to put it back on. And it will lead to others being afraid to start hijab, jilbab, or niqab, at all, for the simple fear that they may take it off one day, and be shunned as well.
  5. What does her removing her niqab have to do with you? A lot of times, the reason for the harsh reactions is simply because we are afraid of being affected when a sister removes any part of her hijab. Your hijab, jilbab, niqab, should not be dependent on what the people around you are wearing or doing. Guaranteed, you will be in some places where everyone is dressed like you and you fit right in, and guaranteed, you will be in other places where everyone is wondering what on earth you were thinking when you got dressed this morning. Accept it. Your hijab should remain consistent regardless, and if it doesn’t, you truly must ask yourself: who am I doing all of this for? For if you truly wore it for Allah, you would know that He is always Watching, always present, regardless of who is around you.

Now for the disclaimer: I am not supporting that anyone remove their niqab, or remove anything for that matter, but I am enforcing that we be merciful and gentle towards the believers. This on our part will be following the sunnah of the Messenger, sallallahu alayhi wasalam. And I am enforcing that we all be sincere towards Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, because those who are sincere will be bound to the sunnah.

waAllahu Ta’ala Alam

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Who speaks for Islam? by Abu Abdissalam

An amazing talk by a brother who says it like it is. A MUST WATCH and MUST SHARE!

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