Monthly Archives: April 2016

Being Muslim in Modern Day America

Being Muslim in Modern Day America

Islam is a way of life and a very simple one at that. It teaches piety, humbleness, peace, war, chastity and more things about life that I can think of. With all the stereotypes that circulate, it’s hard for a Muslim to keep up with the who-said-what in this non Islamic country. Personally, I’ve heard my fair shares of “Is that a pillow case on your head?” to “Are you wearing a bomb strapped underneath your dress?” If anything can be said about Muslims, I should know the gist of the puns.

The ignorance of some non-Muslims is expected for the most part, that doesn’t mean it gets any easier each time they come at us. It is tough because we have interaction with them every single day: work, school, bus, shopping and airplanes. They look at our customs as very foreign and not American. When we look at ourselves and see nothing wrong with our customs. We look at their customs and see contradictions all the time.

Take American television for example. If you could describe popular American broadcasts in a few words it would be sex, money, youth and homosexuality. The most popular shows in the U.S. have one of these characteristics or all four. That’s not what the bible preaches and it’s definitely not what our book teaches. Yet it’s still here and popular to many Americans…including me. If this is what people are seeing and being fed since birth-no matter what religion or background- this is what they will end up engaging in as they grow older. How can you be a full blown Muslim if you have grown up here in America? It is not impossible but misleading. When I say misleading, there will definitely be many upon many obstacles, huge walls and tight barriers that you must get by to keep true to the Islamic customs. It is possible to adapt to the American ways while still engaging in Islamic tradition. Kind of like take the good and leave the bad.

Has anyone who lives in America ever wondered how we felt as non violent Muslims living on foreign territory? Has anyone ever asked themselves: how do Muslims in America who are not of the Middle Eastern descent feel about everything that’s going on?

You have been cordially invited to take a peek inside the life of an African-American Muslim female. One of which who struggles everyday with her identity between being a strong Muslim who puts all her efforts into living here only for the next life versus living the American dream of riches and glam.

You may think we live normal lives…you have no idea. Every day we strive to do a little more than we did the previous day. Pray a little more. Give a little more. Cuss a little less. We are constantly trying to please and live our lives for mankind’s creator. Unfortunately, we are still human and we have human urges just like everyone else. Do not think because we do what we do everyday doesn’t mean we are not like the rest. We probably have more in common with non-Muslims than you think.
Human characteristics: lying, cheating, stealing, fornication, adultery, envy, lust, love and hatred. All things that we have done and you have as well. Our conscious is probably on the blitz while we are doing these things because we know we are going to get paid back for it either here or in the afterlife but it was still done by our own freewill.

So here’s the big question: Why is it so hard to be a good Muslim when you happened to live in a non-Islamic country? There are a few reasons.

1. Born Into a Non-Muslim Society

I was born in Detroit, Michigan. My mother was not Muslim nor was she Christian. My father was a Mason and both never married. I don’t remember much of my life before I became Muslim but I got the feeling that it wasn’t what you would call a Muslim household. Around the age of six, my mother decided to convert to Islam with her three children. When I was growing up we had non-Muslim family member interaction, we had non-Muslim children coming to play with us, neighbors, grocery store clerks and the rest. Although, we did go to Jumah prayer every Friday, only one day out of the week we got interaction with other Muslims solely. The rest of the six days it was my siblings and I against the foreign world. My mom instilled certain Islamic traits throughout the day but after that we went and watched non-Muslims on TV. All these advertisements infiltrated our sponge like minds and shaped who many of us Muslims are today. We may not agree with it but it did have some effect on who we are in Islam.

2. Muslims Spend A lot of Time With Non-Muslims

I used to work a full time job. It was 44 hours per week. I was a manager at Walgreens Pharmacy. I spent anywhere from 8 to 10 hours per day there. I slept 8 hours per day and took an hour total to get to and from work. That left me about 5 to 7 hours of down time during those five days each week. The majority of my awake time had been spent at work, working and integrating with my non-Muslim colleagues. How does that make a person feel to spend the majority of their time working and fraternizing with people who have nothing in common with you? And because you’re the minority you try your hardest to be less like a Muslim and more like them due to the pressures of “fitting in”. They work and spend time with each other, why doesn’t a Muslim get that same feeling of unity in the workplace? Why can’t I pull another Muslim worker and say, “hey, let’s go pray on our lunch break?”

3. Wanting to Imitate to Fit In With the Rest

This coincides with the top example. We believe that if we fit in, it would be a lot
easier for us. But in reality we really just lose our identity. We are Muslim because we want to be. No one forced us to be this way. You don’t have to act like a Muslim. But if that is the case then why do you claim it? I see the little Muslim teens on their way to school and instead of them wearing the Islamic wrap they look just like the rest of the kids. And it hurts me because they do not dress this way at home or in front of their parents but feel the need to be accepted by the rest. Children do not know the implications of not practicing their religion at a young age. For them not to wear Islam like a proud badge of honor is a disgrace. The goal is not to separate Muslims completely from other people or religions but to reinforce the religion throughout the day by being around other Muslims. No one wants to feel like an outsider.

Being a Muslim is a great thing for me because I have access to so many resourceful people of many different backgrounds. They come from all walks of life and diversity excites me as it does others that strive to be a well rounded human being. Staying true to ones religion brings about pride and a sense of well being like no other. We all want to belong to someone; something and with Islam I can say that we all feel this way about our religion. No matter what situation we are in that maybe un-Islamic or how many death threats, weird looks or snickers we will stand strong because the only entity that we must please is God.

Trendy and Fashionable Hijabs For Young Women

Trendy and Fashionable Hijabs For Young Women

As girls step into adulthood, they begin to understand the significance of a number of things including their dressing, their religion and their place in society. Some young women begin their quest for learning more about these factors around the time they begin college, and go through certain phases to eventually evolve into the women they become. Due to this very reason, trendy and fashionable hijabs are a much more common sight amongst the young Muslim women in numerous colleges and universities across the United States than the traditional black hijabs worn by older women.

Although girls belonging to religious families seem to comprehend the importance of wearing hijabs in Islam, certain women feel the need to experiment and research on their own accord to come to the conclusion about its importance. This leads to testing and trying a number of outfit variations before settling for something that they feel confident about. Many young girls who already wear hijabs at the time of entering college also get influenced by the stylish ones on display around campus.

This is the most important factor behind finding hip and trendy Islamic clothing stores conveniently located near university and college campuses and in particular around university towns with large number of Muslim students. These boutiques feature funky, fashionable and distinctive styles in all clothing items including hijabs and abayas. This allows the young women to figure out what they prefer to wear the most.
Colours and styles are another important element which the young women take into account when selecting their signature hijabs. Different colours have different effects on the varying skin tones and face cuts.

Similarly different styles in which hijabs are worn also contribute a great deal to the overall appearance of the person. For certain women, a square scarf wrapped around the head looks the most elegant, whereas for others, a rectangular one with one end loosely draped across the forehead adds a touch of gracefulness. Therefore it is important to try out different styles and colours before selecting a few that compliment your eye colour, complexion and facial structure the most.

All these aspects play a substantial role in young women’s lives as being young is the other name of being fashionable. All girls love to dress up and look their best particularly in their teen ages and early twenties. Being trendy and fashionable is often a prerequisite to being a girl, regardless of religion, ethnicity and age.

Islamic Wedding Dresses and Wedding Gowns

Islamic Wedding Dresses and Wedding Gowns

wedding

Many Muslim brides tend to choose wedding dresses that are traditional, and white. Brides from subcontinent of Asian prefer shalwar-qameez that is scarlet, with henna decorated feet and hands in intricate and beautiful patterns.

Shalwar-qameez
Shalwar-qameez or Qamis/Kammez is a wedding dress that is traditionally worn in the Southern countries of Asia. It is popular in India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, were it is worn widely. Salwar Kammez is worn commonly by Muslim males and women. It is popular as a wedding dress in many Afghani and Pakistani women.

A shalwar is pajama bottom-like, and loose trouser that is wide at the thighs and waist, and tapers down towards the bottom, where it is stitched narrowly at the very bottom edges. Pleats adorn it at the waist level, and are held in place through an elastic band, or drawstring, or more traditionally through woven cord, called ‘Naada’ or ‘Naala’. There are different style takes among the ladies’ shalwars, from the more traditional to the contemporary.

Women’s wedding shalwars are baggy and wide, although the ladies nowadays wear figure hugging or tight shalwars, named ‘Pyjamies’ or ‘Churidar Pyjamies’. One of the more famous versions of shalawar designs is the Patiala Shahi Shalwars, popular among the regions of Malwa and Patiala in Indian Punjab, with the most striking feature about them is their waist cords, Naada or Naala, that are woven.

Kameez
Kameez is a tunic or long shirt, with side seams that are open. These sides, called the ‘Chaak’ are open to about the waist line level, for greater movement for the wearer. A traditional kameez is cut flat and straight, with side cuts that are traditional, but a more contemporary kameez sports set in sleeves, which are inspired by European tastes. A traditional kameez, for both women, usually have loose or normal fitting, although it is more common in modern times to see fashionable Islamic women put on a kameez that is figure hugging.

Typically, a fine kameez tailor will be identified by the intricate and beautiful stitching techniques. Necklines are paid particular attention, as they are beautifully stitched to make them beautiful for the wedding day. The techniques that can be utilized to beautify a wedding kameez are such as beaded necklines, embroidered necklines, decorative necklines, and simple and unadorned necklines.

Somali wedding bride dresses
Other Islamic countries also have location, particular Islamic beliefs specific wedding dresses, as Somali brides prefer beautiful Guntiino, which resemble Indian Saris, and are brightly colored and full length, a head covering of Garbasaar, and slip called Googaro, which is worn underneath the dress. The Dirac or Direh, which is a dress that is lightweight, typically put on over a petticoat or a slip. Gold jewelry and makeup may be worn as accessories, with hair adornments as well.

Other Islamic wedding dresses
Islamic women also favor certain garments for their wedding ceremonies. These include long modesty skirts, beautifully bead or precious metal blouses, a Jalabeeb or Burqa, which cloaks the full length of the body as it is a long garment. Others include a simple head wrap known as the Masar, a Hijab, which is a hair covering head scarf, and Coantino, which is draped over one’s head, as it is a large cloth, and then tied at waist level.

Cool Islamic Clothing Styles For Muslim Women This Summer

Cool Islamic Clothing Styles For Muslim Women This Summer

It is important to keep the body as cool as possible during the summer months, which can be sometimes an “uphill task” for Muslim women that wear hijabs. The obvious tip is to suggest thinner and cooler fabrics in hotter weather – but it is also important to stick to absorbent materials as well. Fabrics such as georgette, chiffon and lace are therefore obviously great choices for the summer months.

Clothing with “air holes” – which allows more air to flow – are great in summer, with lace undercaps and loose crocheted caps both being very effective. Scarf headbands have become with the modern young Muslim and are a useful alternative to undercaps as they provide almost the same coverage but with a lot less material – as they just cover the forehead.

Reducing the amount of material wrapped around the neck and top of the head is a wonderful relief on hot days – as this is where a lot of body heat leaves the body. Experiment with styles and how you pin your khimars. For the cooler summer days, a hat (should never substitute a khimar) could be a stylish addition to your wardrobe and they can be great play on style during the summer months.

Al-Amira hijabs are always worth a recommendation. The translation of the name means ‘princess scarf’ and it’s a slip over hijab style comes in two pieces; one piece of which serves as a hair cover while the other piece as a slip over from the same or near matching colour. Al-Amira hijabs are ideally suited for hotter climates as most of them are made out of light and absorbent materials.

Sarongs are a huge length of fabric that is very versatile and there is nothing stopping you from using one as a summary khimar. They are traditionally wrapped around the waist as a skirt by women and are usually made of very absorbent materials. They also come in a variety of stylish colours, patterns, and various sizes that would add some flair to anyone’s summer wardrobe.

Although not specifically designed for Muslim women – maxi dresses can be practically perfect for Islamic women after a slight moderation -just add a long sleeve shirt or jacket to make them more Muslim friendly. These light, modest and informal dresses usually reach the floor and provide excellent light and cool coverage.