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.


10 Tips To Improve Quraan Recitation & Concentration

The Qur’aan is the kalaam (speech) of Allah and as such, it is the most effective means of seeking divine nearness. Many of us do not know the translation and struggle with keeping our concentration but there are ways in which we can make our tilawat more realistic so that our recitation is not just a rehearsed recitation and actually touches our hearts.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

 1. Reflect & bear in mind the exalted nature of the Qur’aan.

Imam Ghazali (R) has quoted the statement of some elders to the exalted position of the work of Allah Ta’ala: “Each letter of the work of Allah in the lawhe mahfuz (sacred tablet) is more exalted than a fabulous and magnificent mountain like the mount of Caucasus. If all the Angels gather to lift up one letter, they will be unable to do so.”

2. Make istighfaar (repentance) before tilawat. Your state before reciting will affect your state whilst reciting.

3. Renew your imaan by saying: Oh Allah! This is your word. It is haq (the absolute truth), we believe in it.

4. Make duaa thus: Oh Allah! Grant us true ma’rifaat (recognition) and tilawat of the Qur’aan with ikhlaas (sincerity). Mould our lives according to its teachings and grant us its blessings.

5. Recite the Qur’aan with the tongue and make tasdiq (confirm the truth) of its ahkaam (laws) and subject matter with the heart. Reciting with the tongue is a physical tilawat and confirming with the heart is a spiritual tilawat.

[1 – 5 Adapted from Tilawat e Qur’aan by Moulana Wasiyullah (R) (Hadhrat MoulanaAbdullah Kapodri Sahib (db)]

6. Slow down. It’s not a race. Take your time. Give yourself time to ponder over the words of Allah and let them touch your heart. Remember that to make haste is from Shaitaan and also bear in mind that is you rush and make mistakes, you may unknowingly be changing the kalaam of Allah.

“...and recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.” (Surah Muzzamil 73:4)

7. Ponder over the reward you are getting. 

“Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif, Laam, Meem’ (a combination of letters frequently mentioned in the Holy Quran) is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Laam’ is a letter and ‘Meem’ is a letter.” [At-Tirmithi]

Think about it. In Surah Fatihah alone, there are 113 letters (Tafsir ibn Kathir). This means for just the recitation of one Surah, you are gaining 1130 rewards. SubhanAllah! Is it not worth your time to pray with concentration?

8. Pick out key words (e.g. Jannah) and reflect over them in order to create a yearning for closeness to Allah in your heart.

9. Recognise that reciting the Qur’aan is for YOUR benefit. The Qur’aan is a gift and it benefits us and guides us. Allah has no need for the Qur’aan but we need it for our guidance. Imagine our state if He had not revealed it to our Nabi (S)!

10. Listen to the Qiraat of others. Listening to the qiraat of others is not only another way to gain reward, but you can also improve your own recitation by reading along with whoever you listen to. Today, there are many videos available that have qiraat with translation & Arabic text in them, utilize these in a manner which benefits you.

Building a relationship with the Qur’aan is of utmost importance. Through it, we are guided, we gain answers to our troubles and we learn from the Ambiyaa (a.s), lessons that we can use to make our life one that will increase us in the hereafter. It’s a sad fact that most of us check our emails, Twitter, Facebook more than we even touch the Qur’aan and this book that we have we given has just been cast aside. Just taking 5 minutes to read a few lines everyday will go a long way to improving our recitation, not just verbally but also spiritually.

If you have any other tips, feel free to share below! Jazakumuallahu Khairan.

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)


Ramadhaan Reminders

We are coming towards the end of the first week of Ramadhaan, the best of all months, the month of the Holy Qur’aan. It is a time of reflection for us, whether we are better in our spirituality than before, whether we are engaging in more Ibaadah or whether we are continuing our bad habits and not making a conscious effort to change our ways.

The Shayateen have been locked up and they are no longer whispering into our heads. We are free of their influence, yet we continue our sins. Why is that? Simply because, through the course of the year, we have been conditioned to sin without even thinking about it. We sin without realizing we are sinning, we sin without realizing the negative effects on our hearts and souls. We sin without realising that it is Shaytaan who is influencing us, without realising that he even exists!

Our hearts have become rusted through the course of the year and this is our chance to polish our hearts. Let us take these few weeks and use them to the best of our abilities. By the end of this month, we should be able to say that we have done away with ATLEAST one bad habit and gained one good one. May Allah accept our efforts, Ameen!

A few Ramadhaan Tips that will, inshaAllah, be of benefit:

  • When you wake up, before checking your phone etc, engage in some dhikr.
  • Prioritize your Salaah before anything else. Do not let Shaytaan win even when he is locked up.
  • Do not become frustrated at your inability to change instantly. We have been conditioned towards sinning for a long time, and it will take time to change!
  • Allah’s help comes to those who want it and to those who are patient, do NOT give up!
  • It is Mustahab (preferable) to take a break after 4 Rakaats of Taraweeh. Use this time to read Qur’aan/do tasbeeh etc.
  • Reading 1/4 juz of the Qur’aan after each Salaah will enable you to finish the Qur’aan in 24 days. (This is very helpful for sisters who need to take account of days they will not be praying.)
  • The reward for every deed is multiplied by 70! So, every £1 given to charity, it is as though you have given £70! Take advantage of this!
  • Listen to recitations of Surahs that you are trying to memorize. It is much easier to learn the Tajweed!Record yourself reciting the Qur’aan. This will make it easier to rectify mistakes you make!
  • Make sure you understand verses before moving on to the next one. This will inshaAllah benefit you in Salaah as well. The Qur’aan was revealed over 23 years and it’s not going to run away. No cramming!
  • This month is not about food. Don’t waste your entire day preparing for Iftaar.
  • This may be your LAST Ramadhaan! Make good use of it! In fact, we have not even been promised tomorrow!

Follow me on twitter @IslamIsTimeless for more #RamadhaanTips!

Submit to the Will of The Almighty

Never ever ask ‘why?’ What right do you have to ask? Allah never guaranteed that this life would be easy. Rather, He gives bigger tests to those with greater levels of Imaan. Take comfort in this. Allah is giving you an opportunity to turn to Him! What a blessing! That He has given you an opportunity to turn to Him! How fortunate are you! Surely, those who turn to Allah again and again and again, they are of the successful ones!

Allah could have left us stranded and wandering. He could have placed us on this earth, with nothing to guide us, doomed for eternity. But through His infinite Mercy, through His love for us, He has given to us His Holy Book, the Qur’aan. He has given us the perfect example to follow, Nabi (SAW). If only we took heed!

Be patient through your troubles and do not question the decree of The Almighty. Remember, your life has already been written. Everything that has happened, that is happening, and that will happen is part of His plan, even if it is not part of your plan. Take comfort in this.

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said,”Strange is the affair of the Mu’min (the believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him, he is patient and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mu’min.” [Muslim]

May Allah (SWT) make us of those who are patient through our troubles. You never know, it may be that He is so pleased with our patience through our struggles, He may enter us into Paradise. Ameen!