// Stylish twist on modesty
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« on: Mar 29, 2008 10:47 PM »


BY V. RADHIKA

March 29, 2008

On a recent afternoon, I was entering the North York building where I live when I saw a girl in the lobby who stopped me in my tracks. Actually, it was her head scarf that stopped me. I'm used to seeing hijabs - the scarves worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty - when walking around the city. Usually they are simple and in muted colours, but this girl's had intricate hand embroidery, a pearl border and sequins shimmering in the sunlight.

"Wow," I exclaimed.

"It is beautiful, isn't it?" she said.

I thought it must have been from somewhere in South Asia. But no, she said, she got it here in Toronto.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080329.INNER29/TPStory/TPEntertainment/Ontario/
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 30, 2008 01:07 AM »

As salaamu alaikum

Thanks for sharing the article.  I read it in its entirety and it is true that scarves now come in every style, color, fabric one can imagine and with a wide range of embellishments from the elegant to the outlandish.  And that non-Muslim women have turned scarves into "must have" accessories and even articles of clothing.  What struck me as sad was the one young lady that admits she likes wearing makeup and designer clothing but insists that she's doing it for herself and not to attract attention so therefore its fine.  Okay..... if she says so.

As salaamu alaikum

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« Reply #2 on: Mar 30, 2008 09:24 PM »

Asalam alaykum. Am saddened to read articles such as these, and unfortunately
 they only speak of what they witness. On one hand we have to commend the sisters for
 trying to cover but some in doing so miss the whole point of covering. Alhamdulillah you are
 covering ukhti, but why not try to maximize on the benefits of doing it as Alah ahs
 commanded inshAllah? If one is doused in perfume or wearing hijabs or clothes/make up that just
 scream look at me, what is the point ? My dear ukhti, the whole point in covering is not
 to attract attention of every John, Sue, Muhammad or Aisha, the one who deserves that
 attention is your spouse. Our intention should be for Allah alone, because He has asked the
 believing woman to cover. Attracting all sort of attention detracts from the purpose of
 jilbab and hijab.

We have started emulating the non muslims, we spruce ourselves up to go outside and while
 at home dont bother with our appearances, when it should be the other way round. While
 at home be yourself, put on the makeup perfume, dress sexy for yourself and/or your
 husband.This also doesnt mean that we go outside looking which ever way, all doom and gloom. We
 should carry ourselves with dignity and dress in modesty and in cleanliness. I dont know
 about anyone else, but I personally just love seeing those sisters who dress in such
 simple, quite modest elegance, it seems as if they emit some kind of nur, mashAllah. The
 bright colorful decked out hijabs and jilbabs have a special place during those special
 occasions like weddings among other muslimahs.

This clothing we wear is daawah as it is the 1st thing people see and your character
 pulls them closer. May Allah guide us all to implement our deen so as to seek Allah's
 pleasure only. ameen!

Lets not fall into trying to fit with what society deems as fashionable and stylish and
 instead try to fit in with what our Rabb has commanded us with in the Quran and Sunnah of
 our beloved Prophet ( peace and blessings be upon). I know this may offend some and I may
 be viewed as extreme but alhamdulillah ala kulli hal.

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« Reply #3 on: Mar 30, 2008 09:36 PM »

This is just a general response to this topic. Don't feel "you" means you. Smiley

The problem is that there is quite a spectrum on this. Is the only halal Islamic thing a complete black meshed uncrushable crepe voluminous chador that falls from a disk on the head so that not even the head's shape is seen? Is it wearing black niqab and gloves from head to toe? Is it to wear hijab and jilbab in dark tones? Is it to wear hijab and loose clothes in pastels? etc etc. And is this a sliding scale where to go to the extremes are better, or is one thing sufficient and fulfilling the required. I think that's something we need to think about.

The other:  I'm going to hazard and speculate that you don't wear a black chador from head to toe? So how do you justify yourself? (This is a rhetorical question) Because this is the question you are asking of other sisters. I'm not saying you don't have the right to question why sisters are wearing heavy makeup tight clothes etc with hijab, but I'm saying if you have this right to question and criticize them, then everyone else has the right to question and criticize you and ask why you don't wear a black one-piece falling burqa. Your definition of "Islamicity" of "simple, modest dress" will always be someone else's liberality, therefore I'm saying you don't have the right to criticize.

Now if you are a scholar, you would definitely have the right to evaluate and discuss what should be acceptable as "muslim women's dress". And as far as I know most scholars have not made "fashionable" haram yet, nor have they specified or banned an exact style of dress within the requirements.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that if anyone wants to criticize women's dress it will always come back to themselves. This makes no one's life better and does a disservice to the "islam they think they're upholding". So really.... wayy too much emphasis on women's dress. And I used to think it comes from men but I now think it's all about the women. SEriously there are way more important things to criticize. In fact, let's stop criticizing and start helping our brothers and sisters that need help: phsycially, emotionally, psychologically.




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« Reply #4 on: Mar 31, 2008 01:35 AM »

As salaamu alaikum

I agree I don't think there's a "one size fits all" approach.  While I'm often in "awe" of some of my sisters who look so elegant in all black - including niqab - but know that I just don't think I could pull it off because I do too much and move too quickly.   I admit I'm into colors and like interesting patterns and designs, but also know that there are some things that I deem appropriate for certain situations/locations.  For example at work I wouldn't wear my jilbabs that have a lot of embroidery only because they are too pretty for work but they are fine for wearing when giving public presentations.  I still question however, what I was thinking when I bought that "just gotta have it" red sequined scarf that I've never worn outside.

As salaamu alaikum

Fa'izah

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« Reply #5 on: Mar 31, 2008 01:16 PM »

salam

this is also a general response and not directed at anyone in particular.  Smiley

i know it is offensive for others to talk from  a moral highground, but i don't know if i am ready to dismiss comments on the grounds that someone is not a scholar.  scholars have said plenty on the topic of modest dress and i think it is obvious that a hijab is not just a scarf, long sleeves and full length skirts/pants.  when everything is tight, when the colours scream at you and when the behaviour is not hijab friendly, then one has to pause and rethink what's going on. 

we defend wearing hijab to non muslims saying that we want to dress modestly and not be judged based on looks. then some women sometimes, just feel bored i guess with the plain look and go for the glam and the glitz that makes them feel good and beautiful.  this is where one has to be careful.  i agree that it has to come from inside and critisism does not produce any results.  we have to practise more muraqabah and muhasabah.   


take care.
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 01, 2008 04:13 AM »

As-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,
I'd have to agree with sr. Um Aboodi.

On the other hand...

I was just speaking with someone about the need for an emergent American Muslim fashion/style. I appreciate shukr online, and ideas found here: http://jannah.org/madina/index.php?topic=424.0

But the reality is, there are so few modest versions of American/Western style clothing that a specialized designer/fashion line is really needed. Personally, I'm just fine in hijaab/jilbaab, but the time/place we live in now (in the west) really does call for a modern twist if we want to attract more people to Islam rather than repulse them.

But to what extent?

That's the internal struggle many American Muslimahs are having right now. And while it may be obvious to some, there are a growing number of Muslims (men and esp. women) who don't seem to recognize/know that part of wearing modest clothing includes taking these things into consideration:
1) not wearing clothing that's too tight (esp. around the naval to knees, or chest to knees).
2) not wearing something transluscent/see-through
3) not wearing something too flashy
4) not showing the awrah (according to many scholars, the woman's body is awrah)

I had to get that off my chest. Although there are certain trends/cultures where we live, modest clothing should not be sacrificed. Allahu 'Alim, don't mean to lecture, it's just that this topic has been on my mind and I'm actually not pro-Arabizing our clothing as American Muslimahs (although it is a lot easier)...again, we need someone to come up with a line of clothing that is both modern and modest...in case anyone's looking for a career option... Grin

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« Reply #7 on: Apr 01, 2008 12:37 PM »

As salaamu alaikum

To an extent modest styled clothing are in the mainstream.  For example, kutra styled tops are "in" as are trapeze styled tops and because of how they are styled sometimes just a size up accomplishes a lot but doesn't reveal anything (i.e. too much cleavage, falling off the shoulders, etc.).  For those of us (like me) who have a bit more of a "womanly" shape than we care to admit, I've found that online shops like onestopplus.com or its sister site womanwithin.com, business attire is coming with longer length jackets (I've got my eye on a few pieces); in fact a lot of women's business/career wear is coming with longer length jackets and long skirts (minus the splits up the thigh).  So as with anything it is a matter of shopping around.  Admittedly a lot of the more "trendy" items more popular with youth takes more effort but can be accomplished. 

Cost is always a factor.  Some of the Islamic online shops charge way too much and I don't find the styles/patterns to my liking.  Color me picky but I don't want the "old lady", "totally boring", "absolutely tacky" or the "what were they thinking!" or the ever popular "ick" or "why?" look and there are some fabrics that I just reject because they are either too stiff or too scratchy or too slippery.

As salaamu alaikum

Fa'izah
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 02, 2008 05:41 AM »

salam,

I just wanted to respond to this before I left.  I'm not really talking about the "islamicity" aspect of this here. And as I said before there's still quite a bit of interpretation going on here. Is the color red too flashy? Are sparkly pins not Islamic? Are jeans haram? How wide leg is wide leg? How tight is too tight? Are jilbabs the only thing that really hide the awrah? I mean we can go on and on on about what we consider "appropriate" or what we don't. But my point about scholars is that it's not beneficial for us, as regular sisters or brothers, to go around criticizing other women's dress.

I have never, ever seen a girl start wearing hijab or "increase her hijab" or "become more modest" because someone went and criticized that girl and told her she was immodest or haram. Any type of criticism, suggestion, pointed remarks are always taken negatively. I've never seen ANY good come of them. So why do people keep doing it? Let me give you two just recent examples. One summer Jumah this non-Muslim girl shows up here. Her scarf was kind of wrapped around loose. Her shirt was very tight and a halter where you could see maybe 3 inches of skin. So what happened. The minute the khutbah was over some Auntie went over to her and and told her she could not pray like that and her prayer wouldn't be accepted by God. And then the auntie went and got someone's shirt and tried to make her wrap it around her waist or something, and then I have no idea what happened. But after that I found out who she was and she had married one of the Muslim brothers in the community and he wanted her to come to Jumah and "meet the sisters" and hopefully learn about Islam and convert. And she was pregnant hence the shirt that didn't fit. And we never saw her again.

Another sister I know is very into fashion and things and wears hijab and is always trying to stay good. After a long while of a lot of persuading that these seminars were really good and beneficial, that she should come, etc etc she finally agreed to come to one. While she was there she was wearing a shirt that was 3/4 sleeves. One sister (not from our community btw) but who I believe is a very good righteous sister who actually traveled very far to come to this seminar to seek knowledge went up to her and said "OH sister where are your sleeves? Your arms are showing." Now I know this sister and know she didn't mean any harm by it. She really believed she was just pointing something out to another sister and "helping her be a better Muslim". What was the result? This friend, she was so HURT and offended that this outsider said something like that to her, she told me personally afterwards that she felt like a "sl*t". A **** in the masjid. And she's also never been back since then. And how can I ask her to? I know if she or anyone else "less fitting the mould of islamicity" came, they will get judged and commented on in the same way.

I know when I wear a black jilbab versus something else I'm automatically judged as something else. The eyes move differently, the looks from sisters are different. Why is that? I'm the same person. I know when someone meets my friend who does not wear hijab they assume certain things about her and yet she is probably one of the best muslims amongst us.

It's just no one's business. We all know sisters who don't wear any hijab but are more modest and God fearing than others. And we all know sisters that wear hijab jilbab and whatever and are really evil people. Women's clothing should NOT be a lithmus test of Islam, because it isn't. It may be one aspect but so are a million others, so why focus and forcefeed people that and ignore everything else.

So again, leave it to the Islamic state, leave it to the scholars. Who gives that sister the right to go up to another sister and make her feel like a **** in the masjid. That is wrong. Why do we say terrorists are wrong? Why do we say people who take the law into their own hands are wrong? Because they're vigilantes, and anyone who goes around commenting or pointing out or criticizing with whatever good intention are doing the same exact thing. We are not the judge and not the executioner.

So really don't do it. You see a girl with hair escaping. You see someone doing something you think is wrong the first time she's been to the Masjid. You see the girl with the tight pants the sequins whatever. Please just hold it in and look at your own faults first.

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« Reply #9 on: Apr 03, 2008 09:35 PM »

As-salaamu alaykum, Jannah
Hope you travel safely, insha'Allah.
As I was typing my last msg, I had a twinge of Oh-no-someone's-gonna-think-i-actually-go-around-pointing-ppl-out. I'm sorry if it came out that way (and alhamdulillah, I've never done that). There's a big difference between pointing something out to no one in particular on a message board about generally agreed upon issues (I agree, we shouldn't bring up specifics, since they almost always come with difference of opinions among the scholars. that last part about awrah maybe scared some folks), and actually making the (unfortunate) leap of pouncing on a poor girl who isn't covered the way so-and-so would like them to be. I've been on the other end of that before, and it wasn't fun. So why did I mention it here? Umm...it was somewhat related to the topic. And it's something I think about every single day (it's not easy, and I really respect those sisters who can pull it off). If this msg board is not the right place to mention the general points of hijaab, I'll keep it to myself.  Lips Sealed

My original reason for posting was the need for something more than the Arabized versions of covering up. Sorry about the afterthought on the points about hijaab; I really didn't mean to make it a controversial issue.

Btw-Yes, we can actually find some really good modest clothing in the mall, no doubt. Personally, I'm just not an expert on accessorizing. Wishful thinking, but I'd love an affordable company that did that kind of thinking for me. With a modern Islamic twist, whatever that is.  Lips Sealed  Kiss  purplehijabisis

-sofia


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« Reply #10 on: Apr 03, 2008 11:42 PM »

Asalamualaikum wrt,


This reminds me of a course in Arabic language for foreigners that I took in Syria.  We were placed in groups, and each group chose a topic to present to the class, in Arabic, of course.  I was grouped with a German man and woman, both non-Muslims.  We chose the topic of the hijab, and I tried to explain to them that the hijab meant modesty, hayaa', and so on.  The German fellow turned to me and said, "You mean to tell me that the hijab is for modesty, man, I've been to Beirut, and whoo-hooo!," he said this whipping his head and whistling.  Smiley


Of course, as Muslims in the west, we want to be viewed as acceptable members of society, and not seen as social outcasts.  At the same time, we have Islamic guidelines and ideals that we try to live up to.  This is the challenge that we face.

On the one hand, we can give in to society, and adopt expressions of the deen that are socially acceptable.  But this may cause us to stray from the Sunnah and Prophetic ways.

On the other, we can challenge society to live up to a higher standard of moral and ethical conduct, and by this we need to be role models that others can appreciate.


Certainly, we as Muslims are weak and cannot always live up to the ideal.  Thus we need to be there for one another and nudge each other in the right direction.


About the hijab, many scholars say that all the woman is awra, and there are different schools of thought on the issue, here is a summary of what the different schools say is acceptable for hijab:


1.)  Abu Hanifa and Malik, :   sis  hijabisis  shaykha

2.)  Shafii' and Ahmad:   niqabisis


 And Allah knows best.

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 07, 2008 12:21 AM »

All praise be to Allah.


A couple people pointed out to me that the Hanbali school adheres strongly to the opinion that the face is awra, and that this was the position of Ibn Taymiyya and Imam Ahmed, may Allah have mercy on them.  I have changed my post to reflect this view.

Regarding the Shafii' madhab, the excellent Shafii' Fiqh manual "Reliance of the Traveller", translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, states on page 512:

"A majority of scholars have been recorded as holding that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled, whether or not there is likelihood of temptation.  When there is likelihood of temptation, scholars unanimously concur that it its unlawful."

That the face of a woman is awra is stated as the official Shafii' position in Shaykh As-Sabooni's Tafseer Ayat al-Ahkaam, regarding the verses of Hijab (p.108) .



There is a great deal of evidence to support both sides of the discussion, and even the Sahabah differed regarding this issue.  I guess ultimately one has to study the detailed evidence and make a personal decision as to which madhab to follow.  Some wise men have said, "The differences amongst the scholars is a mercy for this Ummah."



And Allah knows best.

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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