After much pondering and perpetual chin-scratching, I’ve finally decided the topic of this blog post [after months and months! I know I apologise sincerely for keeping you in limbo]. It’s something, I feel, needs to be addressed for Muslim youth everywhere, regardless of whether they’re ‘practicing’ or not.
Laila, Aisha and Fatima are walking through the busy city, heading towards the shopping centre. Linked arms, giggling constantly, their hijabs and abayas draw glances, on more than occasion. Sometimes hostile, sometimes encouraging. But the trio are having too much fun to take notice. They pass through the automatic doors of the centre and feel the hot blast of air above their heads and then the sudden drop in temperature as they enter the light and chilly interior. Walking past a book shop, they slow down deliberately, nudging each other slyly. Standing before the window, looking evidently uncomfortable was a young girl. Actually, this young girl is a classmate of theirs, Sara’s her name, cheerful, bright, clever. But not popular. She gets bullied a lot at the Iocal state comprehensive she attends. She’s not pretty enough, not white enough, not brown enough, not foreign enough, not English enough, not Muslim enough, not Atheist enough. She just doesn’t fit in. An odd and somewhat lonely sock at the bottom of the drawer. They pass by without talking to her yet slyly eyeing her from the corners of their eyes. She looks down and pretends to be busy on her phone, desperately avoiding their stare.
‘Did you see her?’ Fatima asks as soon as they pass. ‘Hair all open, clothes too tight, I mean what was she thinking? She looks terrible!’
‘I know right?’ Aisha quickly joins in, ‘I mean, I wouldn’t even go to bed dressed like that, let alone parade around in public.’
Laila winces slightly as the comments continue. She looks back over her shoulder and sees Sara’s eyes staring into her own. ‘She looks so depressed,’ she thinks to herself. ‘Maybe she knows what they’re saying. I should really tell-’ her thoughts are interrupted by a loud squeal.
‘Oh my God, those shoes…I need them! Just look. Look! They’re so cute!’ Fatima and Aisha half-walk, half-run into the shop, leaving Laila trailing in their wake. She sighs deeply and shakes her head as she enters the brightly lit store.
Sitting by herself on the way home, Sara’s eyes are caught by a shop display as the traffic slows down to a halt. Brightly coloured hijabs and long, flowing abayas wink back at her, reflecting the strobe lighting. Tears prick the back of her eyes. ‘I wish I could be like them,’ she thought, thinking about the trio that walked past her in the store. ‘But I’m not one of them,’ she concluded as the traffic lights turned green and the bus sped past.
Sara’s mother came into her room at nine o’clock prompt. ‘Sara love, you finished praying?’
‘Yes mum,’ she said, closing her Qu’ran. She walked over to her bookshelf and placed the Qur’an back, slowly peeling off her prayer scarf as she did so. She chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. ‘Mum, can I ask you something?’
‘Yes, what is it?’ her mum responded, sitting down in the office chair.
‘How can- can- do you- I dunno,’ she finished mournfully.
‘Go on and spit it out!’ her mother said smiling.
‘I don’t really think I’m Muslim enough! I- I don’t even look Muslim, I feel like a hypocrite!’ Sara blurted out, tears already rolling down her cheeks.
‘Flippin’ heck Sara! Are you mad?’ her mother said, standing up and enveloping her in a hug. ‘Actions aren’t just what you wear, what people think about you and what you do outside the house, they’re from here,’ she said, pointing to Sara’s chest, ‘from your heart. From your character, your worship, your relationship with Allah. Insha’allah, if Allah wants to, the exterior will follow. Just because there are girls out there wearing the Islamic dress, doesn’t necessarily mean that their relationship with Allah is better than yours. For all you know, they could be on the completely wrong path.’
‘Thanks mum,’ Sara mumbled, sniffing, feeling somewhat reassured.
The Prophet saw said: “No one with the slightest particle of arrogance in his heart will enter paradise.”
A man remarked, “But a man likes his clothes to be nice and his sandals good.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is refusing to acknowledge what is right and considering others beneath one.” (Mishkat al-Masabih)
-Dedicated to those in search of truth since 2011-