Self Love Sunday, Series, Uncategorized

Self Love Sunday

Assalaamu alaikum, everyone and welcome back to another Honest Hijabi moment! Today I want to talk about self-improvement/self-love and how to begin. I put improvement and love together because I don’t think we can have one without the other. I don’t believe that self-love is solely accepting ourselves as we are and not pushing ourselves to be and do better. Showing love to our minds, bodies, and souls takes work and sometimes that work is not easy. So to begin, the steps below talk about the mental work we need to do. For a long time I didn’t realise how powerful having control over my mind would be. Oh how I wish I could go back to 14 year old me and drill that into my big stubborn head. But I’m learning it now and let me tell you that it comes with so much freedom that you never realised you could have. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Step 1: Set up a solid base to work from.

We all know the saying that goes “Without a solid foundation, a structure cannot last.” Or something like that. Same thing goes for us. If we try to glow up only through shallow methods while ignoring the deeper changes that need to take place, our transformation will be temporary. A shallow glow up would be buying new makeup, changing up your hairstyle, and buying new clothes. Fun? Yes. Trans-formative? Absolutely. Impactful and long lasting? Not so much. So for a glow up that never stops glowing, we start with mental and physical health. This involves strengthening our deen, meditation, practising mental self-discipline, therapy, getting your levels checked, getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, getting physical, etc. This can also go deeper into letting go of relationships, things, and habits that bring you down. From this we can create a much smoother canvas to start painting ourselves onto.

Step 2: Build your character.

This one should be simple but some of us, like myself, didn’t have the best role models in this area growing up so we have to learn on our own. Character basically encompasses your moral values and personality. Having good character can look like being kind, keeping promises, acting with compassion and empathy, being generous, following through, being honest, being loyal, etc etc. These are really good traits to build up in ourselves but come with a lot of practice. These will carry you forward in life and bring you across all kinds of people and situations that will allow you to grow your personality as well. When we have these traits in place, we can build our personality around it to be whoever we want to be. We will also make friends easily and gather up beautiful life experiences that add more to us.

Step 3: Get to know yourself and stop over adapting.

One thing with growing up shy is that you tend to form a habit of adapting to those around you in order to blend in and survive in social situations. Couple this with my parents’ lack of social skills and a smooth social life and I entered my 20’s so bored of myself. Of course I had a personality but I was always so concerned with stepping on people’s toes or messing up that I suppressed a lot of it. I only gave answers that I thought people wanted to hear and therefore, no one ever really got too close to the real me. It’s hard to make friends that way and only makes you feel bad about yourself. So, stop it. Stop adapting so much to the people around you that you disappear completely. You are beautiful as you and you have every right to be yourself and have opinions as they do. You’ve worked on your character so if you act and speak through that, you have nothing to apologise for if someone chooses not to like you anyway.

Also, start journaling so that you can become familiar with your inner thoughts and feelings. This is also a great way to ramble and get all of the word vomit out of your system (just in case you struggle with that like I do). You can also conduct mini interviews with yourself where you write down lists of simple, easy to answer questions about you and answer them as truthfully as you can. This really helped me figure out what I liked and what I’m like so that I can stop being a doormat who just says “I like everything” whenever someone asks my opinion.

Step 4: Detach from other’s expectations and criticisms of you.

Something I wish I had known a long time ago is that you cannot become attached to what other people think of you. You shouldn’t become attached to the people themselves either. Just think of this: if you didn’t care what other people thought of you, what would you go out and do with your life right now? Go write that question down and then answer it in writing and reflect on it. What would you do without all of the unnecessary attachments to unnecessary people and their opinions? If that person is not close to you and they’re not someone that supports and encourages you, then what their brain comes up with about you doesn’t matter.

I used to want everyone to like me so bad so I would end up so attached to how they perceived me. I wouldn’t even really care for these people myself but for some reason I still wanted to be a certain way so they would like me. I would still sacrifice my precious time to go bore myself hanging out with them just to get some kind of invisible reward. This isn’t to be mean or dismissive of anyone. This isn’t about being petty and snobby and nasty to people. This is about learning to set boundaries so that you can live your best life. If there are people that are freely putting you down or expecting a lot out of you without giving much in return, then they are not the people for you. Why are you so worried about what they think of you? What do you think of that person? Do you like them? Are they fun to be around? Are they worth your time? You are not at everyone else’s mercy when it comes to your own well-being and social life. These are things that you build up for yourself and it’s time to be more discerning about who we let onto the building site.

Step 5: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

This is so important because taking oneself too seriously can undo so much work and make things stressful and weird with those around you. While it’s important to set boundaries and make necessary changes, remember to have fun with it and maintain a good attitude throughout the process. When you need alone time, don’t just shut your loved ones out. Let them know it’s all good, you just need some time to yourself. If someone jokes with you about what you’re doing, don’t immediately take it to heart in a negative way. Usually they mean well and as long as they’re respecting your new boundaries, it can be fun to laugh about it and bond over it. People gravitate towards chill, easygoing people and the more you can laugh at yourself and have fun with life, the more you’ll be that person. So those are my 5 quick steps to starting self love.

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Food

Hey guys! I’m back with another instalment to the Organic Beauty series. Today’s topic: food. One of the most under appreciated topics in the beauty industry. Usually we just focus on food for weight-loss with crazy fad diets and broken dreams but it goes way beyond that. The foods we eat can also play a big role in our hair, skin, nails and mood.

We are what we eat. How many times have we heard this? Probably too many to count but it’s true. Whether the consequences are visible or in hiding, our diet plays a big role in our lives. One of the simplest ways to feel a little bit more beautiful is to focus the way we eat around what our bodies need. For example, eating a healthy source of omega fatty acids results not only in cognitive brain function but allegedly softer, smoother skin. Dark leafy greens are filled with vitamins A and C aiding in cellular turnover and a brighter complexion, also eye health.

The Prophet (SAW) actually encouraged us to make a habit to eat from necessity rather than pleasure. We are encouraged to eat as He (SAW) ate: 1/3 food 1/3 water and 1/3 air. While it’s fun to treat ourselves every now and then, doing it all of the time can end up with us feeling ill, bloated, irritable, and our skin a wreck. Even if you’re one of the blessed few that doesn’t see these effects now, they’ll show up eventually. Just like how smoking, drugs, alcohol, and lack of sleep eventually make themselves known, food has its own way of creeping up on people through premature ageing, weight gain, and medical issues.

The only diet that’s right for everyone is one that is balanced and governed by moderation. Everything else is individual so you have to figure out what works for you. From experience, I know that most meat besides seafood, tomatoes, and dairy don’t make me feel so beautiful and wreak havoc on my skin. So I stay away from those when there’s no pizza around and instead eat the things that my body does love which tends to include lots of green veggies, beans, olives, hummus, lentils, and chocolate (antioxidants and all that). This will look different for everyone so the easiest way to figure out what your body wants and needs is to pay attention to how you are feeling after you eat. Go with the foods and drinks that make you feel like your best self and don’t force yourself to eat things that you absolutely can’t stand. If you know you need to eat more vegetables, start with the vegetables you like. If you’re not the biggest fan of veggies, start with the most tolerable and eat them in small portions.

There are also so many fun foods and drinks that you can find recipes for on Pinterest that are packed with nutrients but also taste delicious. Eating doesn’t have to be boring but the more we see food as a tool, the closer we can get to feeling our best and most beautiful. I think this may also help us repair our relationship with food, insha’Allah. It’s not about extremes, it’s about balance and doing what is truly good for us. For more on this kind of topic, check out Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution. This book goes deep into food and how we can use it to our advantage.

So that’s all my rambling on food for today. I wish you happy and beautiful eating!

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beauty, Uncategorized

Modest Shopping Hacks

While I am all for a conscious and ethical approach to our purchases, sometimes we can’t find what we’re looking for. Most of the ethical companies that I used to love don’t carry clothes that I would choose to wear now that I dress more modestly. So, I’ve resorted to searching elsewhere for clothing and learning to take care of the items I buy so that I can get the most use out of them. Today, I want to highlight some of the hacks that have allowed me to find inexpensive, modest clothing that is still stylish.

  1. Boohoo/Pretty Little Thing/Fashion Nova: Okay, here me out. I know that these retailers are the last one to come to mind when one thinks about modesty but they have some hidden gems. They have quite a few basics such as long sleeved jersey maxi dresses that can be layered up. They have plenty of longer, tunic-like shirts, especially in the button up category. And they have a hefty selection of kimonos that come at a much more affordable price than most abayas. They also carry a number of gorgeous skirts that can either be worn alone or layered over leggings. They frequently hold sales with the most recent one being 50% off the entire site!
  2. Shop XL+: So many “regular” sizes still fit tight even if they are larger than your size. Shopping in the plus size department for items such as dresses, tops, and jackets allows you to find pieces that fit loosely and are long enough to cover all the necessary areas.
  3. Check out thrift stores: Modesty was a little more popular back in the day so on a good day, you may score big at a vintage or thrift shop!
  4. Buy mini dresses: This one didn’t occur to me until later on but there are so many mini dresses out there that make perfect modest shirts! Seriously, how did I not realize this before? Most of my tops are marketed as dresses but I tend to buy them a few sizes up if they are fitted so that I can have a basic, modest top. It works out perfectly!
  5. Marshall’s/TJ Maxx: These are two of my favourite stores to buy clothes from. They’re super affordable and when you go at the right time, they have some of the cutest styles available. I’ve found that if you go right before the season starts (I went at the beginning of September right before Autumn officially began), you get your pick of all the new arrivals.
  6. Amazon: Hijabs and maxi dresses galore! While the site can’t beat Southall prices for scarves, it’s decent for the styles and materials that can’t be found in American stores. They also have quite the selection of long-sleeved casual maxi dresses that are perfect for travel and lounging around.
  7. Modanisa: A crowd favourite for their affordable, hijabi-friendly fashion and countless different styles to choose from; Modanisa is the online center for modest fashion. They also guarantee the fastest, most efficient shipping no matter where you are in the world at no extra cost. However, I must warn you that their customer service can be a little tiresome to deal with and getting a refund can take awhile after a return. I suggest only ordering hijabs and more affordable things from them just in case you are in need of making a return and to stay on their case about receiving your money back.

These are only some of the many modest fashion hacks out there. As I stated above, I know that some of these options, like the fast fashions sites, are not ideal especially when it comes to their treatment of factory workers and their impact on the environment. Where you shop is up to your discretion. For me personally, I only order from these sites if they are the last place for me to find what I’m looking for which is usually a basic piece. Alhamdulillah, I’ve been able to build up a wardrobe from many vintage and thrift store pieces as well as bits and bobs from TJ Maxx. I’ve also finally graduated to that stage of adulthood where you realize how to wash and dry your clothes properly so you don’t destroy them (insert feeling of worth and accomplishment here). This was mainly out of financial necessity and heartbreak over losing some of my favourite pieces. But seriously, if you love your clothes look into how to wash them to preserve them and consider line drying instead of using a dryer. This prolongs the life of some of your favourite outfits and keeps you from having to spend more money than you want to on a new wardrobe.

What are your hacks for finding modest clothes? I’d love to hear about them!

Thank you,

Nahlah

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Making the Most of Prayer

So, more than likely, you already know the basics of prayer. If not, there is a very helpful WikiHow tutorial that you can follow for the steps to the obligatory prayer. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I finally memorized all of the recitations and two surahs. It was such a relief not to have to glance at the words on my phone and to pray wholeheartedly, completely focused on worshiping Allah (SWT). But, as with everything, there is always room for growth. For example, were you aware that there are sunnah (recommended) and fard (required) rakats to each prayer? That’s right. The 2-4-4-3-4 rakats of the 5 obligatory prayers can be supplemented with extra rakats. It looks like this:

Fajr= 2 sunnah + 2 fard

Dhuhr= 4 sunnah + 4 fard + 2 sunnah

Asr= 4 sunnah + 4 fard

Maghrib= 2 sunnah + 3 fard + 2 sunnah

Isha= 2 sunnah + 4 fard+ 2 sunnah

Now, it’s not required to recite these extra rakats but it is highly recommended and can greatly enhance your prayer. I know that there are times where we may not feel like going the extra mile but think of much time there is in each day and then think of what you spend most of your free time doing. While some people have children and activities which make taking extra time for prayer difficult, I myself have quite a lot of free time and have found that if I can dedicate time to reading or browsing the internet, I can make more time in my life for my iman. Allah (SWT) does so much for us, asking us to willingly volunteer a few more minutes of our 24 hour day is such a small request. Here are some other steps to take to not only ensure that your prayer is valid but also, that you are making the most of this sacred time.

Disclaimer: Some of these may seem obvious to most of you, but these tips are more for my fellow reverts who haven’t grown up around Islam. The practices can be a lot to take in and certainly a lot to remember at one time.

  1. Make sure there are no photos or replicas of living things (humans and animals) in the room or if there are, make sure they are covered or turned around.
  2. Both Dhuhr and Asr are recited silently.
  3. Make sure the area and the clothes you are praying in are as clean as possible.
  4. Keep your focus on the front of your prayer mat to avoid distraction.
  5. Men should be covered from the navel to the ankles but it is customary to also cover the the torso, upper arms, and in some cultures the head. They should also make sure their trousers don’t extend below their ankles. Women should be covered with exceptions for the hands and face, and the clothing should be loose.
  6. After Fajr and Maghrib, recite “Allahumma Ajirni Minan Naar” which translates to “Oh Allah, protect me from hellfire!”
  7. When you go down to the ground, go straight into sujood. When you sit up, make sure you rest one hand flat on each thigh.
  8. You only have to recite the takbeer, Surah al-Fatiha and the following surahs aloud. Everything else can be recited to oneself.
  9. Pray as soon as the adhan is sounded (whether that is from the local masjid or the alarm on your phone) or as soon as possible. Don’t delay. Approaching prayer in a timely and enthusiastic manner not only increases your reward but also allows you to focus fully on worshiping Allah (SWT) and allows you to take your time and pray correctly and make any dua that you need to make.
  10. Take time to incorporate the sunnah prayers before the fard prayers. An easy way to start is with the sunnah prayer before fajr. Since both are made up of only two rakats, it is quick and makes for a positive start to your day. The Prophet (SAW) made sure that no matter what, he prayed the two sunnah rakats before fajr. The surahs to be recited during this sunnah prayer are Surah Al-Ikhlas and Surah Al-Kafirun.
  11. Recite Surah Ibrahim (14: 40-41) after the second tashahhud and durood sharif (As-salaah al-Ibraaheemiyyah).
  12. Make sure that toes are pointing forward when in sujood as well as hands. Keep elbows off of the ground and don’t rest your stomach on your thighs.
  13. It is so helpful to learn the meanings of what you are reciting. I find that this helps me to keep my focus and to pray with a better intention.
  14. Don’t make your intention to pray out loud, it is to be made in your heart so that you do not make a false intention. It is also considered an innovation by some scholars which would make it haram.
  15. Speaking of innovation, if you are unsure of what to do during prayer or forget something don’t make it up as you go. It is permissible and actually mentioned in a Hadith that if one makes a mistake during prayer or loses focus, they can start over.
  16. This article is really helpful if you are someone who often gets distracted or forgets things during prayer.

I hope that these little tips prove to be of some use in performing your daily prayers in the future. They are small details that I feel can be left out when first learning everything. Oftentimes, because they are so used to it, born Muslims may forget to teach you these things or you may not find the advice readily available on the internet because to most, it seems like common sense. Don’t worry or feel pressure to learn all of these at once. Take your time and focus on keeping a pure intention and praying wholeheartedly. Allah (SWT) knows you are learning and trying your best and you will make mistakes, but what matters is how you go about correcting and learning from them. As always, if you have anything to add to the list above or any corrections, please let me know below!

Thank you,

Nahlah

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

What to Expect When You Cover Your Hair in America

Every revert’s story is different. We all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles which can greatly determine the level of ease our assimilation into this new life will have. This is such a deep and individual process that for this article I will stick to the basics of what a female revert will probably experience when she starts covering her hair. What can you expect from the world around you? From your friends and family? From future employers and strangers?

I’m going to be real with you. As I’m sure you already know, there is a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering surrounding Islam that I hope to dispel as I continue writing on this blog. Your decision to embark on this journey is not going to go down well with a lot of people. It is very realistic to assume that your family will express disappointment in you, maybe even go so far as to cut you off. You will see friends that start to avoid you or pretend to be interested but slowly fade away. Coworkers will question your decision and, perhaps crack jokes or make you feel silly for it. If you choose to cover your hair, you can expect to have to learn how to control every word that comes out of your mouth. People will feel uncomfortable around you and you will be subjected to a level of surveillance that no one else has to go through. You will get dirty looks while you’re in the grocery store minding your own business. If you work with the public, you can most certainly expect comments ranging from curious to ignorant to downright degrading.

People will all of a sudden think that it is appropriate to discuss topics with you that they would avoid with anyone else. There will be people who think that simply because you cover your hair, that you are open and comfortable with discussing hijab and women’s rights in Islam. All of a sudden, you will become a poster child for hijabis and Islam, whether you like it or not. You will also meet people who feel that it is their own, personal mission to “save” you. They will see you as oppressed and confused, in need of confidence and freedom. They will feign concern for your well-being and worry about your own personal decisions. They will attempt to be saviours who debate with you until you see the light. And there will be some people who won’t talk to you at all and some who will be a little too friendly.

I will also advise that you use caution if you are going out alone in certain areas of the States. I don’t recommend going out alone once the sun has set and use your discretion when going into certain places. The key is to know where you are welcome and to use common sense. I live in the southern United States which means that there are certain restaurants and stores that cater to a group of people who have a tendency to hate Muslims. There are certain cities nearby that have a very small population and consist of the same type of people. I will not find any allies in these areas so I stay away. 9/11 didn’t just hurt and kill the Americans in those buildings. It brought on terror, threats, and death to the Americans who just so happened to be true followers of the religion that an evil group of men used as a scapegoat to commit terrorism. While American Muslims prayed, provided aid, and condemned the acts of these men, America turned on them and has sought to hold innocent people accountable ever since. There are too many stories of Muslims being harassed and killed here to take anything lightly now.

Life as a hijabi in the States isn’t a living nightmare but it does require some adjusting to how you would normally interact with others and carry yourself. I have personally chosen not to talk in depth about my faith with others. If they ask then I will answer, but it stops at that. Don’t make apologies for your beliefs or try to explain or justify any of your decisions. You don’t need to prove to anyone that you are an empowered woman with your hijab. You don’t need to reassure anyone that you are free or that you feel beautiful and confident. We should have love and patience for everyone that we come across, but we should not sacrifice our beliefs or well-being to cater to the ego of someone who chooses to remain ignorant and hateful in a world that offers plenty of opportunity to be the opposite. I love America and I am so grateful that I was born here, but this love for my country doesn’t mean that I should refrain from reality. Islam has given me so much more freedom and passion for life than I’ve ever had before. I cover my hair proudly now and I am so proud of each and every one of you beautiful women who have chosen the same path. This is a beautiful journey that brings so many benefits and as with every beautiful thing, there are those who try to stifle it. Trust in Allah (SWT), hold your head high, be prepared, and speak the truth.

Ps: And you know what else you can expect? The flood of support and love you will receive from other hijabis whether it’s on the street, in the store, online, in the masjid, etc. You are going to face some negativity but you will always have a support system of other Muslims behind you. Don’t forget that.

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Imposter Syndrome: Revert Edition

When I first reverted, I was alone. I found myself in an area that was very much lacking in a strong Muslim community and so resorted to internet research and books to grow in my deen. It wasn’t until I met my husband, that I finally had the opportunity to connect with other sisters and brothers in Islam. I traveled to London to meet his family and felt like I blended in as soon as I landed. There were women in hijab EVERYWHERE. No one was giving me dirty looks, I was invisible, and I loved it. But something also happened, I started to feel like an imposter. Sitting there with my husband’s wonderful family, getting to know everyone, I realized how little I actually knew about Islam and how underdeveloped my iman actually was. I had so much to learn and part of me began to feel almost foolish due to my lack of knowledge. How could I sit there wearing hijab and claim to be Muslim when I knew so little?

Another factor that I believe contributes to this imposter syndrome, is how synonymous culture has become with Islam; specifically cultures arising from Asian and Arabic countries. Growing up in America, raised by a Black/Native American mother and a German/Welsh father, I shared a similar upbringing and lifestyle with many of my fellow mixed, American peers. Our culture here typically derives from a Christian background with a primarily secular lifestyle. Joining a new family and being surrounded by beautiful people from a completely different culture and a faith still new to me was fascinating and I am so grateful for it. But I cannot lie and pretend like I felt I belonged here. Just as the hijab set me apart from most people in the southern United States, my background and nationality felt quite alienating in my new Muslim family. Naturally, people who claim the same culture have a much closer bond. When I come across other mixed girls or other members of my family’s tribe, the connection is so much stronger then in my interactions with others. It’s simply how things are. So being a fairly new revert with distinctively different features from those around me, a Christian upbringing and an American accent felt so uncomfortably visible in a primarily Asian and Arabic community.

I began to feel the same way on social media as I followed more and more Muslim women. In every post I saw gorgeous traditions and cultural practices, and it seemed like everyone connected over these things so much more than anything else. Everyone I met had been born into a Muslim family, so all of this was so normal and essential to who they were. They were well-practiced Muslims who were familiar with the lifestyle and the teachings to back it up. I felt like I was playing dress up, trying to join the party. I didn’t have much in common with anyone around me here, no familiar life experiences or similar upbringing, simply a shared faith. Could I ever belong? Probably not. I can appreciate this culture but it will never be my culture. I can love the people so dearly but I will never be one of them. I can be obsessed with the traditions and the style of dress but it’s not my style. And that’s okay. Because being a Muslim has NOTHING to do with culture.

Islam is a religion, a set of beliefs that are set apart from culture. Anyone can be Muslim because you don’t have to be born into it, Alhamdulillah! Allah (SWT) has brought you into this faith, so you do belong no matter how you feel. The key is to remain humble. You will not know everything when you revert, you won’t know everything one year after you revert, and you STILL won’t know everything 50 years after you revert. It is about being humble, pursuing knowledge, and putting that newfound knowledge to practice over and over and over again. You are not joining a new culture, you are joining the Ummah (Muslim community). This community encompasses so many cultures from all over the world. It is a very intricately woven, vibrant web of people coming from so many different backgrounds to join together in worshiping the one true God. It is very easy to come across cultural traditions from primarily Arabic and Asian countries and think that this is what Islam is. And when we focus on these cultures, it becomes exclusionary. That is one of the many great beauties of Islam: that so many different people can come together and share this faith and this struggle. Islam does not exclude those that God has brought into it, Alhamdulillah.

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Dining Etiquette

Assalaamu Alaikum!

I wanted to write an article that plays off of yesterday’s. One detail about the Islamic lifestyle that I don’t believe is transparent enough to reverts is dining etiquette. It’s simple and straightforward but if you are not surrounded by other Muslims who are willing to take the time to point these things out to you, how are you going to know?

There are quite a few details so I will write them all out as a list so nothing gets lost in translation.

  1. Before you begin eating, say Bismillah Irahmaan Iraheem.Β This means “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”. This essentially blesses the food and is equivalent to a Christian’s prayer before eating. If you forget and have already begun eating, say “Bismillahi Awwalahu Wa Aakhirahu”. This means “In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end.”
  2. Only eat with the right hand as it is the most honoured hand and it is seen as very rude to eat with the left. A full explanation can be found here.
  3. It is very common in Muslim households to eat with one’s actual hand, no utensils. I have found that my new Muslim friends and family are very considerate and always provide me with utensils to eat with. But honestly, I prefer eating with my hand now too. It’s more efficient and after awhile, you get used to it and utensils become a burden. Ever forgotten to grab a fork? No problem now.
  4. This one is pretty common sense and you probably already practice this one: wash your hands before eating!
  5. Eat the food that is directly in front of you. No reaching in front of other people to grab a bite or taking from your neighbor’s plate.
  6. Once you have finished eating, say “Alhamdulillah.” This means “Praise God.”
  7. Wash your hands and rinse your mouth after eating.
  8. You should always eat whilst sitting. This is sunnah and also recommended by scientists as it aids in fully digesting one’s food. This should also be done when drinking liquids. There have also been some studies that claim standing while drinking is bad for the joints.
  9. Take what is offered to you (unless you suffer from a severe allergy or insensitivity) and do not criticize the food.
  10. It is preferred to eat in a group and to converse about subjects all across the board, as long as they are halal.
  11. Eat in moderation! This keeps you from feeling sick but also takes pressure off of your digestive system which can cause issues along the way if not done. One way I make sure to do this is to take half of the portion I believe I need. I also avoid empty calories and stick to meals that are primarily vegetables and protein. Also another reason to eat with other people and to talk to them is so that you give your body time to digest what you are eating and this allows you to feel full faster.
  12. Obviously, eat only food that is considered halal. I am currently working on an article that gives all the details of halal food and debunks some of the myths people believe about it. It should be up within the next week, insha’Allah!
  13. It is preferred that you do not drink water with your meal as it can mess with digestion.
  14. And lastly, avoid gold and silver dishware as it is haram.

So, there you go. The 14 rules of Muslim dining etiquette. I have a feeling I probably missed something so if I did, please add the missing rule below and I will add it to the list! If you would like a more in-depth explanation of the above bullet points and the Hadith that support them, you can find it all here.

I hope that this post was helpful and that these tips will come easy to you. Bon appetit!

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Why We Use the Right Hand

As a new revert, learning and adapting Islamic practices can seem overwhelming. I have created this series, so that I may address the little details of being a Muslim that may come as second nature to most people born into Islam. The answers presented in these articles will be based on the Quran and Hadith, not opinion, and will be short and sweet, insha’Allah.

Assalaamu Alaikum!

Today, I want to talk about why Muslims only eat and drink with their right hand. It’s as simple as this:

The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said: β€œNo one among you should eat with his left hand or drink with it, for the shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”

The right hand in Islam is seen as the more honoured and pure hand. It is used for purification (we start on the right side when cleansing ourselves), eating, drinking, shaking hands, putting on clothes, entering the masjid (mosque), and giving/receiving money/gifts, etc. The left hand is the one we use for cleaning ourselves after going to the toilet, amongst other things. While we obviously cleanse ourselves thoroughly, as it is required, the left hand is still seen as inappropriate to use for “clean” tasks. You can find a more in depth explanation and more Hadith to support this practice here and here.

It can be tricky to remember to do this if you are left-handed or simply that you’ve been using both hands to eat with your entire life. It takes practice, but eventually you’ll catch on and it will become second-nature. We should strive to do this because it has been commanded, but also because it is common sense. Using one hand exclusively for eating (also shaking hands and giving gifts) and the other exclusively for doing tasks considered “unclean” is an effective way to avoid spreading germs and maintain cleanliness.

I hope this article was helpful to you and look forward to the next topic in this little series, insha’Allah.

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Lonely?

Assalaamu Alaikum.

Today I want to address a more emotional topic: loneliness. As a revert you experience this in a way that is so completely different from any other. I’ve lived alone in a new city, so I feel like I have a pretty solid foundation to compare this feeling to. Loneliness as a revert Muslim can isolate you even when you are surrounded by loved ones. It can be scary and frustrating, it can eat away at you and threaten to take you down. Being alone in this way most commonly means that you find yourself living in an Islamophobic area with very few, if any, fellow brothers and sisters in Islam.

It’s an isolation that is all-pervading and can be almost impossible to explain to anyone who was blessed to grow up in a Muslim family and/or in a strong Muslim community. How do you even begin? It’s as simple as this: it’s just you and Allah (SWT) and it can make or break your iman (faith). When you are lonely like that, the only One you can rely on is Allah (SWT). Your family may not understand you, you may lose friends, you may receive dirty looks in public, you may face harassment, and you may know no other Muslims in your area. You are tempted at every turn and it is easy to lose control of doing the right thing. Often times I find it far too easy to slip up with very little positive influence in my life. If I am not making a conscious and self-disciplined decision to study Quran and Hadith and practice what I learn, I don’t stand a chance. I HAVE to pray five times a day or it won’t happen at all. I have to structure my life in a way that pleases Allah (SWT) in every way, or temptation will take control.

Alhamdulillah, I have an amazing husband and family in London who I can talk to at any time and who have already taught me so much. I just joined a writing group called Hijabies Hood that I am so blessed to write with and learn from as well. And I was born in the age of the internet so I have almost unlimited access to information on Islam. When you are feeling this loneliness creep up, look at what and who you do have. Check with your local masjid to see if there any women’s groups or classes you can join. Look for ways to give back to the community that will also bring you in contact with potential friends. And above all else, cling to your iman! Dedicate yourself to sincere prayer and study. Don’t let up even when it gets difficult. I can promise you that it will get difficult and you will question everything, but that is only a sign that you are going in the right direction and you must keep pressing on. And if you have no one else to talk to and you desperately need someone to listen, drop me a message. Your sisters in Islam are not going to let you down, we’ve got you.

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Thoughts

To Christmas or Not to Christmas?

Assalamu Alaikum, guys!

Today I want to talk about Christmas. It’s tomorrow and for the first time in my life, I am not anticipating the giving of gifts. It’s a rather strange feeling but not one that I didn’t see coming. I heard someone once say that when you dedicate yourself to studying Quran and following Allah (SWT), the desires of secular life fall away. I don’t believe it is always that simple, depending on the person, but I have noticed within my own life a significant amount of change that just seems to happen.

I thought that I would struggle against not celebrating Christmas. It has been my favorite holiday since I was a child and over the years has come to be a more and more precious time for me. I love the whole lot of it: gift shopping, music, decorating the tree, baking treats, parties, and watching movies. It’s such a warm, happy time of year where I know I’ll be surrounded by love and good memories. But this year, I’ve become rather indifferent. At first, it seems harmless to celebrate it. It’s just a day that has been ravaged by commercialism over the years, what’s the big deal? But commercialism or not, the fundamentals of the Christmas seasoning is that it is meant to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus (AS) as he is known in the Christian faith. For me to actively participate in this holiday tradition is for me to stand behind the history and meaning of the day. I hadn’t given the whole idea much thought until I came across the hadith below:

The Prophet (SAW) said: β€œWhoever imitates a people is one of them.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4031; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 5/109.

The core of being a Muslim is to believe in one God (SWT), the true God (SWT). Christmas is a celebration of the birth of whom Christians worship as the “messiah” and “saviour”. While Muslims believe Jesus (AS) existed, we believe he inhabited this earth as one of Allah’s (SWT) prophets and not as His son.

Everything we do is a representation of who we are and what we believe, whether we like it or not. And while I still thoroughly enjoy the energy of this time of year, I want to be more conscious of how I’m spending it for my own sake. Living in an area that isn’t heavily populated with other Muslims or Islamic influence can make being a revert difficult. I’m surrounded by ideals and activities that aren’t in alignment with what I’ve chosen to believe, so holding fast to my new lifestyle takes a lot of willpower and discernment or else I’ll fall off. I still love to indulge in the time with family, the baking, and the occasional showing of Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m human and this time of year is something important to my family, also those are my favorite movies. But, as a new revert, I want to be cautious of the things I am still holding onto and understand why I’m holding onto them. This is in no way a condemnation of Christmas or the activities associated with it, this is simply me trying to make the best decisions for my own life. Besides, I like Eid better anyway…

Nahlah

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