beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Intro

With my own personal experience with beauty and working every day in a salon, I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to be beautiful. And today I want to introduce a new series on the topic of true, organic beauty. I don’t mean organic as in a label that guarantees the health of your products, I mean a beauty that radiates from every fiber of your being. A beauty that upholds integrity and health, that invites people in and embraces them in warmth and love, a beauty that is intoxicating because it is pure and kind-hearted. It is you through and through, no fakery, no homogeneity, just you. So, how do you achieve this kind of beauty?

Like all true beauty, it starts from the heart and mind. Sticking to the 5 pillars of Islam, studying Quran, improving upon oneself, fostering strong and healthy relationships with friends and family, practicing gratitude, controlling your response to your own emotions, seeking knowledge, practicing kindness and compassion, etc. etc. etc. Did you know that it has been said that waking up to pray Fajr on time contributes to a glowing, healthy complexion? Creating strong mental/emotional habits, as well as physical ones that aid in mental/emotional stability and harmony is key to achieving inner beauty that shines through the exterior. For example, I know that getting enough sleep is crucial for me to avoid under eye bags and dull skin, but it is also necessary for a bright and cheery mood and a heart that feels excitement and passion for my life and the people in it. When I compromise on sleep, I turn into a negative and apathetic person with emotions that run rampant.

As a woman, my emotions play a big role in my everyday life and my interactions with others. I have been learning recently how important it is to exercise control over my responses to emotional stimulation. Emotions are not always what they seem; I may feel upset at my husband for something quite menial but if I withhold from reacting and take time to analyze what’s really going on in my mind, I can usually find that that particular emotion is stemming from something entirely different (like hunger, lack of sleep, personal insecurity, etc). When I am disciplined and make myself go to bed early, I am at my best. My mind is clear, my heart is happy, and I have energy to focus on my iman, my work, my health, and my relationships.

This is only an insight to what I would like to talk about in this series. I have so many thoughts on this topic that I cannot possibly force them all into one article. I know you may even be wondering how this has anything to do with Islam. Organic beauty is actually based on many Islamic practices. This isn’t vanity, this isn’t solely focused on the outward appearance and gaining attention for it. This is a philosophy aimed at bettering ourselves and our lives in a way that worships Allah (SWT) and fosters beautiful relationships with ourselves and others. It is the only type of beauty that matters and lasts for the rest of our lives. I can sit here and talk to you about anti-ageing and the best way to apply eyeliner, but we all age eventually and the eyeliner always comes off at the end of the day. These things do nothing for our health, happiness, or character. So, please join me in a journey to learn about achieving a beauty that actually does.

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Happily Ever After

Last night, my husband and I attended our first wedding together. It was a beautiful event and my first experience at an Asian wedding. There were so many little moments that took me back to the night of our own nikkah ceremony. We didn’t even have much of a wedding really; it was simple, held at his cousin’s house and only family were present. But it was perfect. I just remember the feeling of sitting beside the love of my life and feeling such excitement and love for him. The love that emanated from both of us was the best part of the entire thing. Seeing the love and happiness that radiated from the beautiful couple last night reminded me of that.

Once we had sat down at our table and had a chance to take in the atmosphere, my husband asked me if I would have an event similar to this one if I could go back and change what we did. It was such a beautiful venue, the decorations were tasteful, the bride’s outfit was stunning. It would be such a fun (even if it was stressful) experience but the work and money involved are a big factor that would turn me away from that kind of celebration (call it laziness if you want). I can honestly say that I would still choose to recreate every single detail from our original wedding. It was by no means extravagant, I wasn’t wearing my dream dress, my husband ordered his suit off of ASOS, my family couldn’t be there, and we didn’t have a grand banquet and loads of guests but it was perfect. And in all reality it reflected who we are and our values. Just as our friend’s wedding last night was perfect for them and reflected their personalities. We didn’t really set out to plan something simple, we just wanted to get married. At the time, I was in school and we were living 4,000 miles away from each other. I was unable to work and so had very little money at the time to put towards a ceremony. But the result was something really beautiful to both of us. It was like that feeling of getting your first tiny apartment and eating cold pasta on top of a cardboard box because you have no furniture. It’s not something you think you want but it ends up being one of your fondest memories.

I loved that the night was somewhat relaxed and that we actually got to enjoy ourselves. I loved that my husbands cousins love him enough and were so generous to not only offer their house for the venue, but to also plan out the entire night and provide food and gifts. I loved the 4 hour hour ordeal that was finding my dress only the day before. Traipsing through Southall for an entire afternoon trying to find a decently pretty dress for under 100 pound makes for one of my favourite stories from that trip. Keep in mind that this was my first time in London, I had never haggled before in my life, and my husband wasn’t accustomed to purchasing women’s suits so he wasn’t too practiced in haggling either. Needless to say, my mother-in-law still thought the 60 pound we paid was too much and took it upon herself to come with us when we went shopping for the dress for my walimah.

All this to say that a wedding, especially an Islamic one, is about uniting with your life partner, the person you love most and following the sunnah. I love that my wedding was simple with no frills because the sole focus was on our love for each other and worshiping Allah (SWT) through this union. I definitely wasn’t marrying him just to have a big, special day so there were no blinders over my intentions, alhamdulillah. And even now, we’ve kept to our tradition of keeping things simple and we are so happy because of it. The Prophet (SAW) even said that the best weddings are those with the least expense and hassle. These events should be happy times for both the guests and the newlyweds. Everyone should get a chance to chat to each other, share stories, take photos, eat good food, and make wonderful memories. After it’s all said and done, what matters and what is real is your new marriage. Finding the perfect dress (one that you will only wear once) won’t matter, planning the perfect menu won’t matter, no one can really tell the difference between professional makeup and makeup you’ve done yourself, most of the guests only come for a free meal, and most of the pictures will stay hidden away in an album on your phone.

In this day of showing off for social media, it is so easy to get distracted from what is real and permanent. Instead, let’s focus on our significant others and focus on having a happy, healthy, and loving relationship. You can have a big wedding if you wish or you can have a small one. It’s about the two of you and what you value There’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as you you do it in a way that honours Allah (SWT). If you can look at one another with so much love and pure intention like the beautiful couple did last night, you’ll be just fine.

Thank you,

Nahlah

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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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