beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Sleep

A lot of talk surrounding inner beauty solely focuses on personality and values. While these aspects are very important, beauty from the inside also heavily relies on health, meaning diet and lifestyle. It is no coincidence that the most redundant beauty advice tells us to drink lots of water, cut down on junk food, and go to bed on time. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason.

From personal experience, I’ve come to believe that sleep is the start of it all. We are nothing without energy to go about our day and practice good habits. Our bodies need sleep in order to rejuvenate, detox, and function. This is the time that our cells get to work repairing and strengthening our bodies in ways that we often take for granted. If we discipline ourselves to get at least 8 hours a day, we ensure that we start off our days right, mentally, and physically. Keep this in mind, when our bodies are tired, they begin to shift their priorities towards the most necessary bodily functions while normal functions like appetite, sex drive, and short-term memory begin to lag behind a bit. Without proper sleep, I don’t have the energy to workout or stick to my skincare routine. My diet also tends to center around whatever is most convenient, which is rarely healthy.

So, what is ideal when it comes to sleep? Yes, 8 hours is the recommended amount to achieve ultimate rest, but the time at which we fall asleep is incredibly important as well. I’ve found that I can sleep for 10 hours straight if I go to bed past midnight but do I feel refreshed the next morning? Absolutely not. However, I can only sleep for 7 hours if I go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 5 am feeling ready to conquer the world. This can be explained by our body’s natural circadian rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” Most of us have a circadian rhythm that responds to light which explains why we naturally begin to feel sleepy once the sun sets and why many of us can wake up naturally at the same time every day.

And last, but most certainly not least, how do we get enough sleep during the summer with prayer times starting so early and ending so late? My method is this: I finish all of my errands and physical activities before Maghrib as well as finish getting ready for bed (shower, skincare, teeth). That way when Isha rolls around, I can pray and fall right to sleep. I use the hour in between Maghrib and Isha to wind down for the night so that I may drift off to sleep in a peaceful state of mind. Winding down for me typically looks like reading a good book, journaling or writing drafts for blog posts (in a notebook instead of computer), and studying Quran. Now, in the morning for fajr I’ve developed the habit by the grace of Allah (SWT) of staying awake afterwards and getting my day started. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone so by all means, go back to sleep so you can get adequate rest. But, I will say that forcing myself into becoming a morning person has been so beneficial for me in having productive and fulfilling days. I enjoy the early morning quiet that I get to myself where I can savour my tea and reflect on things before going for a good workout. It sets the mood for the rest of my day and I find that I accomplish so much more when I get started early.

Thank you so much for reading the first installment of our new Organic Beauty series! I hope that this brought something new to the table, so let me know what you think in the comments below! Also, what are your favourite ways to relax at night?

Wishing you all dewy skin and a full night’s sleep,

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

Adopting a Minimalist Lifestyle

From my guest post on Hijabies Hood.

Minimalism has always had a special place in my heart. I first came across the idea while watching a bubbly YouTube video on capsule wardrobes. At first glance, minimalism was chic. It was neutral colors, clean lines, and a tally of possessions that could be counted on one hand. I loved it! I remember donating bags and bags of clothes, leaving only my most worn items hanging in the closet: it didn’t amount to much and consisted of only the color black. I remember the feelings of calm and relief that swept over me as I sorted through books, old school papers, jewelry, and useless little decorations. After the massive overhaul was compete, my room looked much like those one could find on a dream house Pinterest board.  

What I found during my little “journey” was that minimalism was so much more than a seasonal capsule wardrobe. It was and still is a freedom from possessions and mindless waste. It is a rejection of what corporations push in our faces. In this modern age we have slowly taken on more gods without realizing it: stuff. We chase after possessions and glorify those who have what we don’t. I had become disillusioned with it all as many of us often do and I was seeking more. I saw minimalism as a mindset that shifted my focus onto values, learning, experiences, and connection. Before I came to Islam, being a self-proclaimed minimalist made me feel like I was partially fulfilled. I was focused on things that were adding value to my life rather than taking away but it wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t until after I reverted that I felt completely fulfilled and found even more reasons to continue on in this lifestyle. And it all started with this hadith:

“On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (RA), who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveler along a path.”

Perhaps I am a little biased because I love traveling, but I really connected with these instructions. I see living this way to mean that you only possess what is necessary and convenient, you experience many different cultures, you wonder at Allah’s (SWT) creation, you meet amazing people, you value your time, you work hard, you abstain from excess so that your journey will not be hindered, you are always learning, and you are always ready to pick up and go if Allah (SWT) calls you somewhere else.

The Muslim lifestyle, in general, is one that embraces moderation and simplicity. We are instructed to only eat what is needed, live as travelers, abstain from excess spending on weddings, not to flaunt beauty or wealth in public, and use our money for good (giving zakat). Not only is this way of living good for our health and bank accounts, but it is wonderful for our faith. When we are not so focused on the show and the stuff, we are more focused on Allah (SWT) and living as He has instructed us to.

Minimalism doesn’t have to look like it does on Pinterest or in the apartment tour videos on YouTube. Most of us have families/roommates or we have hobbies/careers that require us to keep certain things, or we just really love throw pillows. What matters is that we live lives that are in alignment with how Allah (SWT) wants us to live. This means that we must live with the awareness of our time, money, actions, words, and health. On the Day of Judgement we will be asked five questions: It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and how he disposed of it, and how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge.”

I believe that if we live in a way in which we will be able to answer these questions with little to no regrets, we will not only be happier then but happier in this life as well.

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