Why I Don’t Need a Makeup Tutorial to Teach Me How to Wear a Hijab

A fantastic article originally on Under a Blue Tree


When I first started wearing hijab, my mother would pin it for me every day—a square scarf that she’d fold into a triangle, pin under my chin, and whose ends I would then tie into a little knot on my chest. I’d go to school (where my sister and I were the only girls in hijab) like that, thinking that I looked pretty good, especially if I was wearing a particular blue silky scarf that made 5th-grade me feel glamorous. There were other aspects of my wardrobe that I wished I could change at 10 years old (namely the many denim shirts with flower decals that my mother loved buying me so much)—but I can’t recall feeling inferior to anyone because of my hijab style (or lack thereof, really) at that point in my life.

Fast forward 15 years. My fashion sense has developed considerably, and my hijab has gone through various style-phases, but it’s still there on my head, though it’s now more often secured with 3 pins instead of 1. But when I see images and videos of hijabis who teach others online how to wear this piece of cloth, now I feel somewhat inadequate. I had never considered that not being amongst many others who wore hijab during my youth could have had its benefits. But perhaps it allowed me to define for myself what my hijab should look like. I wonder how my formative pre-teen and teen years, as well as my concept of hijab, would have been different had I had access to hijab and makeup tutorials when I first started out—or, more importantly, had there been girls around me who followed them. I was content with my cotton scarves and bubble gum lip balm. But if I was 10 years old today, I think I’d be draping necklaces on my head and yearning for red lips.

I had the opportunity to grow into my hijab, to have it contribute to my own personal style and sense of individuality—and I believe that that is a right that every woman has. The requirements of hijab are a foundation around which women of different cultures, ages, and circumstances can work. As long as everything that needs to be covered is properly covered, one cannot call another woman’s hijab incorrect simply because it is different from her own.

But there is a key difference between shaping my hijab around the standards laid out in the Islamic tradition and styling my hijab around the standards laid out by society. The desire to conform is something real and it’s something that I fight against almost on a daily basis. What I was shocked to experience was feeling the need to continue that internal fight while around other Muslim women. I think the woman in a flowy tunic with white skinny jeans and stiletto heels looks beautiful, and the woman with red lipstick against a black hijab is striking, but I know that certain elements of their style are not ones that I can mimic with a clear conscience. And so the battle against myself and the beauty norms that I see around me, but that I choose not to adopt in an effort to please God, has permeated even my safe space.

I recently came across a video tutorial on “hijabi makeup”—how to dress up your face in order to make it stand out from the background of your hijab. There are tutorials on how to style your hijab with matching makeup for holiday celebrations, tutorials on “everyday makeup” for hijabis as though we can’t step outside without properly pink cheeks, ones for hijabis with blue eyes vs. brown eyes. The conversation still exists on the oxymoron of hijab with makeup, but each Islamic conference that I attend shows me that the norm is swiftly moving away from clean faces.

The fact that mainstream messages regarding women’s beauty standards have permeated into Muslim fashion is a testament to the rapid growth and development of our community, but also something that each Muslim woman should take the time to notice and consider on an individual level. I have to remind myself on an almost daily basis about the spirit behind my hijab. I style it and match it, but remind myself that it is not an accessory. It is a form of worship to my Creator that I get to show to the world every minute that I’m outside. And so I try to guard my hijab as I do any other form of worship. As its purpose is submission to God, I try to ensure that I am not simultaneously “submitting” to anyone else’s code of dress while wearing my hijab.

There is a difference between looking presentable and looking like a presentation. I know that any hijab will turn heads, but I am careful in ensuring that the one who turns will have nothing to see when he/she takes a second look. Stiletto heels, red lipstick, smoky eyes, jewels on my forehead—all of these will hold a stranger’s gaze on me and, for that reason, work directly against the spirit of the cloth on my head.

I find it to be a mercy that God revealed in the Qur’an that the believing women must “not reveal their beauty except that which [naturally] appears thereof” [Ch. The Light: verse 31]. We were created beautiful as humans, and certain manifestations of that cannot be hidden—and God is telling us that when they’re natural, that is normal. But when we place them there to beautify and accentuate, then they’re no longer natural, and that should not be part of our normal.

In conversations about hijab, the question arises of whether one has the right to deem another’s choices right or wrong. While our focus is on ourselves, it is natural for us to compare ourselves to others and to participate in an exchange of ideas on an experience that we share. For that reason, every woman has a place in the discussion, and we welcome its continuation in the comments below.


Be Grateful

Be grateful.
We forget to be grateful. And how grateful should we be? We only need to imagine our lives without imaan to be grateful. Oh Guider of hearts, how much do You Love me that You have given me imaan?!
Everyday that you wake with imaan, you have a reason to be grateful. You could lose every single material possesion you own, those who are beloved to you, but know that if you wake and you have imaan, you have everything.
We don’t even realise how blessed we are, yet looking at those who don’t have imaan and it is so easy to appreciate. We need to remove this pride, this kibr that we have in our hearts and bow down and prostrate before the One who created us and chose us to be His slaves. What a beautiful title to hold. To be the slave of the One who created us and everything in the heavens and the earth.
Take care that you never look down on someone who does not have imaan, because you do not know his ending and you do not know your ending. It may be that he dies with imaan and you do not. May Allah save us! Be grateful to Him that you have imaan. Pray that you will die upon this beautiful, perfect way of life that He has gifted to us. Make no mistake, this religion is a gift. And we should treat it as a gift, with thankfulness and praise for the One who gifted us with this gift.

Be grateful.

Two Incredible Miracle’s of Muhammed (phub)

Imam Baihaqi (R) mentions a narration of Hadhrat Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib (RA), the paternal uncle of Nabi (S), regarding the motivating factors behind him accepting Islam.
Abbas (RA) mentions he once said to Nabi (S), “Oh Rasulullah (S)! I was drawn towards accepting your Deen due to a sign (which I had witnessed, proving the truthfulness) of your Prophethood. I had witnessed you in your cradle, conversing with the moon, indicating towards it with your finger. In which ever direction you would point to, the moon would move accordingly.” Nabi (S) mentioned, “I would speak to the moon, and the moon would speak to me, thus diverting my attention away from crying. I would also hear the sound of the moon setting, whilst prostrating before the throne of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.”
(Dala’ilun-Nabuwwah by Imam Baihaqi – v. 2, pg. 41)

Imam Suyuti (R) quotes Ibn Sab’a (R) as mentioning that the cradle of Nabi (S) would gently rock by the rocking of the Angels. He further mentions that the first words spoken by Nabi (S) were:
“Allahu Akbaru Kabeera Wal Hamdulillahi Kathiraa.”
‘Allah is The Greatest and all Praise is due to Allah in abundance.’
(Al-Khasa’isul-Kubra by Imam Suyuti – v.1, pg. 53)


10 Tips For Concentration in Salaah

Salaah is our time to communicate directly with our Creator. But many of us pray Salaah as part of a routine without thinking of why we are praying. Without realising that Allah (swt) has given us this gift, not because it benefits Him, but because it benefits us!
Allah does not need our worship but we need to worship Allah in order to have healthy souls and be successful. Salaah is what we will first be questioned about on the Day of Judgement and so we need to make sure that when we read Salaah, we read with full concentration and taqwa. Here are a few tips to help us all long the way.

1. Think of what the action you are doing signifies.
What does your Salaah signify? Submission to your Creator? What else does it signify to you?
And you can also think of what the particular action you are doing signifies. E.g. When raising your hands for Takbeer, you are sayin ‘Oh Allah, everything belongs to you and I am putting away the dunya to worship you’. When in Ruku, you say ‘Oh Allah, I am lower than you’ and Sajdah ‘Oh Allah! Am am far lower than You and You are Greater than anything’. First Sajdah can also represent that Allah created you from earth and when going into your second Sajdah, He is going to bring about our death. And when you rise from your second Sajdah, think of how He will bring us back to life again for judgement.

2. Look at specific spots and don’t let your eyes wander.
Qiyaam – Look where you will place your head for Sajdah
Ruku – At your feet
Jalsa & Qaidah- At your lap
Sajdah – Your Nose
Simple but effective.

3. Allah is watching you.
We should be aware of this all the time but we forget. But He is here watching you. Seriously think about this. You wouldn’t rush Salaah in front of others, so why in front of Allah? He is All-Seeing.

When you rush, that is from Shaitaan. You give him power over you. Think clearly and focus and force yourself to slow down.

5. Stay in position until you are completely relaxed.
This ties in with number four. Slow down and don’t rush. We’re not in a race. Take your time and relax before moving on to your next position. It is waajib (compulsory) to remain in any posture in Salaah for the duration of one SubhanAllah.

6. What is your state before Salaah?
Your state before Salaah will effect your state in Salaah. So try and do some ibaadah like tasbeeh or read Qur’an before you start.

7. Remember the translation of what you are reading.
Learning the translation of the Arabic will help you reflect on whatever it is you are reading and help your concentration levels.

8. Don’t make your Salaah repetitive.
Learn new Surahs and remember their translation too.

9. Remember the Greatness of the one you are standing before.
If you were going to meet someone of high importance, like a king, you would be very  attentive. Well, Allah is the King of kings, give Him your utmost attention. This is also why you should dress properly during Salaah. If you wouldn’t go out in those clothes, why would you stand in front of Allah with them?

10. Don’t leave your Salaah till the last 10 minutes.
This is quite obvious. If you leave your Salaah till late, you’ll be more worried about finishing your Salaah then praying properly.

Our Beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW) has said: “Perform your Salaah as if it is a ‘farewell’ Salaah (i.e. the last Salaah of your life). (Mishkaat)

May Allah affirm our hearts to Salaah and let us read it with the concentration it deserves. Ameen, Allahumma Ameen!

There are many other ways to improve your concentration. Please share in the comments if you think of any! JazakAllahu Khair.