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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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

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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Islam 101

Hijab 101

Assalamu Alaikum, guys!

Today I want to talk about the oppressive rags we Muslim women are forced to cover our long gorgeous locks with…just kidding! Well, we are going to talk about the hijab but this will be an enlightening conversation and one that stresses greatly that most of us aren’t being forced to wear it. Contrary to popular belief, the word hijab does not mean headscarf. The most accurate translation would actually be “barrier” or “partition”. I know I call my headscarf a hijab and so do most other muslimahs, it’s just easier that way. But, as you can see, the term itself has a much deeper meaning. You can find a very well written, clearly explained article by the BBC here. This article highlights verses supporting modesty and the wearing of a headscarf as well as a few hadiths on the various types of dress. Definitely worth the read!

So for those of you wondering where you can find evidence of modesty and hijab (in this sense, simply covering) and also questioning why men don’t have to abide by it, I give you An-Nur 24:30 of the Quran where Allah (SWT) instructed Muhammad (SAW) “Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them.” (24:30)

Men don’t get off so easily here. In their case they must be covered from below the knees to just above the navel, cannot wear gold or silk, and cannot wear clothing that drags on the ground.

And to the women, “Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste) and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khimar over their bosoms…” (24:31)

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (33:59)

And for the history of how hijab came to be and an in depth look at the controversy of hijab vs. no hijab, I suggest listening to this very informative TED Talk given by Samina Ali. Obviously, there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the question of whether the Quran actually commands women to wear the hijab. We’re not touching that one with a ten foot pool in this post, that’s for another day…maybe. I’m not ready.

Needless to say, I love my hijab. In one of my earlier posts, I talked about the reasons why I chose to wear it and how it has empowered me. I also enjoy educating people about it if they want to know. I’m sure we’ve all heard or seen ignorant comments concerning the way Muslim women choose to dress. You’ve got uni-lingual Betty from Alabama who thinks we should all be jailed for our burqas, speak American, and go back to Shania Twain law (I wish I was kidding but this sentence was constructed from pieces of real comments made by real Americans). I’m aware that talking about the different types of hijab won’t conquer bigotry in one fell swoop but it’s a start.

Below is a nice little graphic on the different styles of hijab or veil.

Veils BBC News Web ArticlePhoto taken from here.

Here in the States, I’ve witnessed most of these styles except for the niqab and burqa. As I’m sure many of you can imagine, these wouldn’t go over so well although some women still choose to wear it, mash’Aallah. There are many different reasons for why women choose to wear a certain style. For many it’s cultural and for many it’s based on their interpretation of modesty and what they believe the Holy Quran has instructed. For most of us, the veil is not a symbol of oppression for we wear it proudly and it is a part of who we are and a symbol for what we believe. It is not a garment meant to confine us to shame but one that commands dignity and respect.

What most people here don’t realize is that Islam and Muslim women are complex and detailed. It’s not what you see on TV and it’s certainly the farthest thing from what Betty posts on Facebook. There’s a tendency for people to see a veiled woman and refuse to see the woman. Instead she’s a walking symbol with no thoughts, feelings, passions or fears. At the end of the day, we are normal, we’re simply trying to live our lives and practice our faith in peace. We aren’t untouchable or scary or violent. The misinformation and violence of radical groups shown on TV is not an accurate representation because, frankly they are not a part of Islam.

The true representation of Islam lies within the kind-hearted and dedicated Muslims in your community. And instead of making rash assumptions and listening to people who have no first-hand knowledge, take some time to go to the source. Read the Quran, talk to the Muslims you may interact with, ask questions, and learn about the culture and why things are the way they are. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Thank you and assalaamu alaikum!

Nahlah

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Truth About Hijab

I didn’t have a strong conviction to wear the hijab until after I began wearing it. There was no defining moment for me where I made the decision to cover my hair and my body, it just happened little by little. It began with wearing longer trousers, then longer sleeves to wearing my hair in a turban to lengthening my hemline to wearing full hijab. Now, I cannot imagine going out without it and feel significantly more comfortable covered up. Once I began, I found so many reasons to love it: it is a way of honoring Allah (SWT), it holds me accountable for my actions and words, it distinguishes me as an unapologetic Muslim, it keeps my focus on what’s important rather than seeking others’ approval on my appearance, and I am sure there are many other reasons that are not coming to mind at the moment.

With all of this in mind, for some women the hijab is a little more complicated. For them, it is a symbol of the oppression they must face every single day. They did not get to make a decision to wear it, that decision was made for them and their rebellion could have traumatic consequences. Their perspective on the hijab is just as valid as the one that sees the hijab as empowering. On one side of the world, women fight to cover themselves and on another side of the world, women fight to uncover themselves. These struggles may seem so opposite to each other but at the end of the day we as women are all fighting for the same thing: to make the choice for ourselves. The way we dress should not be forced upon us by anyone and the opinions of others should not influence our decision or the consequences of that decision. For too long, the way a woman chooses to adorn and dress herself has been a political concern. Why?

If we cover too much, they come after us. If we cover too little, they come after us. There is a strong push to whitewash everything and everyone to establish an environment of comfort. Comfort for who? Reality is not plagued by comfort no matter how hard we keep attempting to infect it. Reality is that we live in a world of many different sizes, shapes, colors, beliefs, nationalities, lifestyles, and definitions of comfort. If we seek peace we have to let people be who they are (within the confines of the law and human decency, of course).

We are told time and time again not to judge others. A woman’s decision for how she wants to portray herself and live her life is between her and Allah (SWT), whether she is aware of it or not. It doesn’t mean her decisions will be right but it is not for us to control, it is not for us to look down upon. And personally, I have found that if you want to spread the truth it is best done through being an example and treating others with compassion and respect.

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