Archives for category: hijab

Alhamdulillah. So ten years ago, around this time, I tinkered with the idea of beginning a blog. It was my way of working myself back to writer-me.

And writer-me wanted to publish a book.

You know how they say persistence pays off? Well it’s true. Here’s proof on goodreads: (The blurb still needs fixing so ignore that) Saints, Misfits, Monster and Mayhem, Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads – Summer 2017. (And, yes, that review is by my daughter.)

If you’re on goodreads and you’re so inclined to support the publishing of narratives not often seen in the industry, please click the green [Want to Read] button.

What brings tears to my eyes: it will be the first North American YA novel featuring a main character in hijab published by a mainstream publisher. 2017, guys.

It’s seems like a whirlwind of a publishing journey – from query to agent to book deal =  just a bit over 3 months – but I know it actually took ten years.

Because my book deal would not have happened without this blog and its readers. Thank you so much. And, alhamdulillah, truly.



This video on Muslim fashion designer Rabia Z is interesting, entertaining and will make you wanna run back to your ol’ sewing machine trailing interesting fabric and stuff behind you (if you were a wanna-be fashion designer back in the day like I was). I like the way she sounds confident in her ideas and beliefs. And she won the International Young Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008! By designing modest clothing! In the fashion industry!

And I hear through the grapevine, having been too busy to check it out myself, that everyone’s favorite Hijabi clothing/hijab store, H&M (Hijabs&ModestClothingAvailableToo), has some really cool new scarves…

I think it’s time H&M actually gave in to reality and start putting signs in their red font that say:

right above all those…those…hijabs. I mean have you really seen the rest of the world that interested in scarves as accessories…yes, besides the keffiyah-as-fashion-statement-or-political-statement controversy…it’s Muslim women that are keeping the scarf sales ringing, H&M. (And I can sell you the above sign at a modest, hijabi price.)

Lots more on this at ABC news.

These accounts of a man and two women who came to her defense were among a tiny minority:

Back in the bakery, the next customers had a very different answer to the question of American identity. First we met a man who angrily refused to buy anything when the sales clerk refused to serve Sabina. When our actor chastised him for being a “bad American,” he begged to differ. “I believe I am a good American,” he said. “My son just came back from serving in the army for over a year in Iraq and that has nothing to do with her [Sabina’s] rights. I am deeply offended by this.”

We also met two young women who refused to let our sales clerk’s hateful words go unchecked. “Sir, we are not buying our kolaches because you are really offensive and disgusting,” one said. “Just because she’s dressed like that doesn’t mean anything,” said the other, a Muslim-American woman herself. Rather than simply taking their business elsewhere, the young women demanded to speak to the manager, and they also challenged our sales clerk’s definition of “American.” “She’s American. She’s American. I’m American. You’re the one that’s anti-American right now,” one said to the sales clerk.

When he refused to budge and our actress turned to leave, the two women walked out with her in a show of support.

But at least there was a tiny minority, right? God bless the real Americans.

mypicture.jpgThis is me. Wearing my turquoise hijab. Drawn by the girl with the bangs in her eyes (see post below).

Part my collection of hijab as interpreted by children (non-muslim), circa school year 2007-2008. I love the way she got the draping in front – of my heart, apparently. I also like the sidestep I’m doing and the way the skirt flounces out.

There are 4 essential tips for every good Muslima to remember in order to appear well groomed before the ummah. We will list them in order of importance:

1. Eyebrows: We good Muslimas are very fortunate this season that the plucked chicken look is passe. A more robust (read: hairy) look is coming back; those of us who prescribe carefully to the hadith about leaving eyebrows alone can now heave a sigh of relief and push up the scarf bands once more to reveal eyebrows au naturel. Essential to every good Muslima’s grooming kit is an eyebrow comb and a tiny tube of vaseline to brush in a little shine for special evenings out (say at the premiere of Little Mosque on the Prairie – oh wait, that’s in your living room).
Do not try these eyebrows at home.

154974220_a483be19c0_o.jpg 2. Skin: A good Muslima remembers the inside is more important than the outside; it’s a bonus that when you improve your inside, your outside improves as well. What are we mumbling about? Drinking tons of water hydrates your skin and quenches your body. A glowing skin will lend an extra glow to the natural noor every good Muslima enjoys.

3. Teeth: Brush. Your. Teeth. With or without a miswak. Just make sure you use toothpaste.

Henna: so last decade… 191916386_88f49161b5_o.jpg

4. Henna: Ah, henna, mendhi, mylanchi. The painstaking Muslim art of beautifying your hands, feet and hair. So now that it’s been cool for the last ten years, we recommend you wrinkle your nose every time someone mentions it. The point is to get it un-cool once more. We want it to become so unbearably uncool that it goes underground and re-emerges as cool once more! We good Muslimas can participate in the cycle of fashion in this way. In today – out tomorrow – in again next year insha’Allah. Meanwhile, use red and orange markers on yourself when you attend weddings and Eid celebrations. Keep extra markers in your shisha evening bag for touch-ups after wudu.

That’s it for this issue of the Good Muslima’s Guide to Beauty.

Next issue: Heels: How High Can We Go?




First I want to begin by saying I don’t like a lot of the things I’ve read on hijab. Most often I end up finishing an article or book on the subject with a profound sense of dissonance. I cannot for the life of me identify with a jewel or a tasty confection. When a woman is described in this way to justify hijab she is rendered immobile, inanimate and illiterate. I’ve sat with others and watched while a speaker or an average Jamal, with awe in their voices has said, “just as a diamond is wrapped in a protective cloth, women are precious enough that they too must be thus wrapped. Not everyone can see this diamond.” Sometimes some of the women watching with me raise their eyebrows with pride and high-five glances at each other. But trust me when I say that there are a lot of us watching and listening who don’t feel like we’ve been mined from Africa illegally. As for the argument that the very best bonbons are wrapped in hijab, I would have to remind you that those very best bonbons don’t have a life beyond getting eaten and washed down by the very best wine.

So, please stop with those analogies. They leave an extremely unpolished, bitter taste in the mouth of many a Muslim. And they all reek with the idea of women as possession for we all know a diamond and a bonbon belong in someone’s clutches. Sorry, I belong exclusively to Allah.

I can only approach the subject of hijab (in the head-cover sense) from my personal vantage point – which peers out from inside a hijab, most often a pashmina – not swung on but pinned in 3 strategic locations – but also from inside a regular shayla (long rectangular cloth) or sometimes when I’m feeling nostalgic, from the inside of those old-fashioned square scarves (which too many people nowadays consider too square). My vantage point also peers out at an increasing number of friends who have shaken their hijabs off.

These friends for the most part fall into 3 categories:

1. Those who read, read and read trying to find the source of the requirement to hijabify in the manner most people take hijabify to mean. They don’t find a strong enough source so they calmly fold their hijab up and turn it in. Unfortunately, these women are sometimes treated like they have committed an act of apostasy.

2. Those who believe hijab is a requirement but couldn’t stand to face the forces agitating against it – usually from family, job settings etc. They’re not caving in as much as trying to still the ropes pulling them from all directions.

3. Those who shrug off their hijabs because of profound life-altering situations. A lot of my friends who are in this category were women who took up hijab in their early twenties – most often against the wishes of their families. When things hit them later in life, they find comfort in not having to hold on to one more obligation. Because, really honestly, to hijabify in a society – okay, in a globe – which judges a woman’s worth mostly by her appearance is really, honestly hard.

What about the argument that hijab leads to an equitable society where a woman will be judged by her inner worth? My take on this would fill too much space and I have a whole week’s worth of planning to do for school so I’ll just say… this can only happen in a society which judges a woman for her inner worth. Those of us who have traveled abroad can testify that you can be the most covered French chocolate in the country amidst other similarly wrapped confectionery and you can be undressed by a thousand eyes before you get to the souk.

What does hijab do? Because I’m feeling disobliging, I can give you a list of things the wearing of hijab doesn’t do. a) As mentioned above, it doesn’t suddenly render a whole society into a state of perfect equilibrium in terms of mutual respect of genders. For that to happen you need to change more than the appearance of the woman; you need to change the perception of the man. b) It doesn’t stop men from asking you out. However, it does stop Muslim men who fear Allah from asking you out. c) It doesn’t transform the wearer into a pure, noblewoman. That transformation takes place on the inside. I’m certain that there are many pure, noblewomen walking around with their hair glistening in the sunlight. And I’m certain I’ve seen hijabis with impure mouths and dishonorable actions.

Again, then what does hijab do? I can only tell you why I wear it. I wear it because my reading of the famous Qur’anic verses on hijab speaks to me in a traditional way. I wear it because I love reading stories of the women and men around the Prophet – by any author – and I see that the application of these verses by the women of the Prophet’s time was hijab as a head-cover and these women are my role models. I wear it because it reminds me – a person who can become extremely fashion obsessed – that the worth of me is more than whether my newsboy cap goes with my new haircut. I wear it because it stops me from going out with men who see beyond my big black scarf because I don’t see beyond my big black scarf. I wear it because it reminds me that what comes out of my mouth and what my hands do and where my feet go better be benign because when others see me they think of Islam and when they think of Islam I want them to think of only one word: Peace. And lastly but really firstly, I wear it because it makes me feel submissive. I love feeling submissive – but only to Allah.


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