Written by Safia Farole.

As Muslim Americans we know its summer when unleashed dogs are running through parks – much to our horror, when shamelessness abounds on the streets, and when temperatures reach degrees that make hijab seem unbearable (you know what I mean sisters).  Okay, life as a Muslim in summer may not be that tumultuous, but while the sights and sounds of summer may be familiar to everyone, there are important summer health tips that everyone should pay attention to. Many Muslims observe hijab, but just because we are covered up doesn't mean we can't benefit from summer health recommendations. With 2010 shaping up to be the warmest year on record, more and more Muslims should find it important to pay heed to how environmental factors affect lifestyle choices. The following is a list of some recommendations on how to enjoy the hot weather without harming our health. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, neither is it medically authoritative, but these lifestyle tips are designed to help Muslims live productively while staying true to their identity.

STAYING HYDRATED

You've probably heard this a lot throughout your life, but one of the most important tips for good health during summer is to drink plenty of water. These following tips for staying hydrated were adopted from FitSugar:

  1. Eat your water: Foods that are filled with water, like watermelon, provide a healthy and juicy source of nutrition, which makes staying hydrated easy and delicious.
  2. Hydrate before exercising: Whether exercising outdoors or indoors, drinking water before doing so will grant you more longevity in routine.
  3. Stay hydrated at work: Just because you're indoors doesn't mean you have to cutback on water intake. Making it a habit even while indoors will make it easier to do so when you spend time outside.
  4. Have enough on hand: Water is a luxury. When you read this statement think of the amount of dehydrated people suffering around the world (not that your aunties, uncles, and parents don't make you feel guilty enough about it). But the good thing is it's cheap. Be sure to keep a good supply of water when you go camping, hiking, or on short trips and vacations.
  5. Keep a reusable bottle with you: This is a really easy way to keep the habit of water consumption. Plastic bottles are okay to reuse, but consider stainless-steel bottles if you are hardcore eco-friendly.

SUMMER SKIN CARE TIPS

Alhamdulilah, as Muslims (especially sisters), we cover a lot of skin regardless of season. But in summer time, the exposed areas, such as face, hands, and maybe feet, deserve some attention. The following are tips that will help you stay safe while keeping it halal when you step outside.

  1. Exfoliate to get rid of dry, dull skin: For those not into cosmetology, exfoliation “involves the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin's outermost surface.” Chemical or physical exfoliations can be used to maintain clear and healthy skin. For help finding good products to use, go to your nearby Walgreens or Bartels and head to the beauty isle. According to WebMD you should first “wet your entire body in the bath or shower” and “apply exfoliating cleanser to your loofah or washcloth, and scrub, using gentle, circular motions.” There are exfoliating products available that are appropriate for the entire body or just for the face – both are good options for a religious population that is used to wearing lengthy garments season round.
  2. Moisturize to hydrate: After you exfoliate, the next step is to moisturize the skin. According to dermatology specialists quoted in the WebMD article, “If your skin is only a little dry, you can use a liquid moisturizer and if it's very dry, you can use a cream moisturizer.” But whatever type of moisturizer you use, take care to choose one that doesn't clog pores, which can easily occur in days of humidity.
  3. Apply Sunscreen: This is where Muslims should pay particular attention. As mentioned earlier, sisters may underestimate the necessity of applying sunscreen when stepping out because many already cover all body parts besides the face and hands. Sunscreen helps to protect our skin from getting burns, so its helpful to use on sun exposed areas. According to dermatologists “how high a number of sun protection factor (SPF) you need depends on how fair you are…people with fairer skin, lighter hair, and lighter eyes often need stronger sun block than their darker counterparts”. Dermatologists also recommend that everyone “wear a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher with a broad-spectrum agent that protects against UVA and UVB rays.” Not all moisturizers contain SPF, so be sure to select one that does if you are planning to spend time outdoors. It is important that you apply a generous amount of sunscreen and that you apply it before leaving home, given that it takes about 15 minutes to kick in. According to dermatologists, sunscreen lasts for about two hours, so be sure to reapply it every two hours if you are engaged in frequent outdoor activities. So, with the amount of skin that sisters and brothers have exposed, they should take care to apply sunscreen on those areas.
  4. Don't forget the skin on your feet: Every day we place significant stress on our feet, and hot weather prompts us to partake in even more activities, so don't forgot about your feet! If you experience peeling, cracking skin, or callous on your heels, be sure to consult a physician, but there are also over the counter remedies such as exfoliating creams that can help. And take care to keep your toe-nails cut and clean because cutting the nails is part of the fitrah, as the Prophet (SAW) said: “The fitrah is five things: circumcision, removing the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails, and plucking the armpit hairs.” (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim). Dermatological advice has only recently caught up to this prophetic instruction that has been around for over 1400 years!

HIJAB: KEEP IT COMFORTABLE AND STYLISH

You know what I mean sisters. It's easier to layer up during the winter months, but in the summer it can be a challenge to find clothing that is both comfortable and halal-friendly. I can personally attest to the many mornings of ravaging my closet to find suitable clothes for work, and I know others can relate. I'm not a fashionista, but going for lighter hijab garments is the best place to start. According to WikiAnswers, and to conventional wisdom I'm gathered through the years, its better to wear light-colored clothing during hot weather. Light-colored clothes reflect light better, and will keep you cooler, whereas darker shades absorb heat – making you feel warmer. I hope these tidbits help make your next foray into the closet easier!

Much of this advice may be old news for many readers, but in light of our interactions with the environment around us and our attempts to honor religious obligations, I hope readers find it refreshing. Stay safe, stay halal, and enjoy the weather.

REFERENCES:

9 Responses

  1. iMuslim

    Another ‘hijab’ tip: keep it loose and lightweight. I’ve seen sisters wear khimar styles that involve multiple layers, and thick fabric… the sight of such makes me feel suffocated! I tend to wear lightweight, square scarves in Summer, and tie them simply in a way that prevents any fabric touching my neck to ensure proper ventilation. For the same reason, my Summer abayahs are super-baggy, combined with sleeveless top beneath. I really can’t dress any other way when the heat is on!

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    • Ayesha

      jazakAllahukhairan for the tip sister…but please referain from describing yourself as in “…combined with sleeveless top beneath…”

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      • iMuslim

        I respect the advice, but I am actually describing an item of clothing sis. Not my specs. ;)

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  2. Faatimah

    IMuslim – I know, I don’t know HOW sisters do multiple layer hijabs! I always wondered how they manage in the heat – i mean, they look nice, but man, they must be hot!

    Another thing about the hijaab – pin your hair up tight so it doesn’t get on your neck. If you can tuck it into an underpiece so it stays in place, even better. Also, If you wear abayas, skirts underneath are nice in hot weather :)

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  3. sheesh

    That’s one of the most self-righteous first sentences of a paragraph I’ve ever read. I think someone should invent a bullet-proof hijab to dodge the summer violence of our cities. Puppy slobber and spaghetti straps are the least of our worries in America.

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  4. Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

    Some general tips for summer:

    * Your children are out of school, so give them constructive activities to do during summer, maybe an Islamic summer camp, or summer school at the masjid, or a Quran memorization contest. Try to use this time to bond with them as much as possible.

    * Ramadan is coming up, so again, it’s a unique opportunity for your children to get involved in Ramadan activities at the masjid and at home.

    * Summers are street festival time, and some cities have Muslim organizations doing active da’wah at those festivals, like WhyIslam in the Bay Area. Try to get involved with that, as they always need more volunteers and it will be an unforgettable experience that will stimulate your own Islamic development as well.

    * As far as healthy living, it’s not only the sisters who need to cover up. Brothers should also wear loose and modest clothing, and summer is not the time to go stripping it off. Loose, long-sleeved cotton shirts will actually protect you from the sun and keep you cooler, contrary to popular thinking, and a white kufi on your head will reflect sunlight and protect your head. It’s no accident that these styles of dress were developed in the hot countries of the Middle East and South to Central Asia.

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  5. Amatullah

    I’ve never experienced the kind of heat like I am now this summer in Egypt, it ties with summer in Saudi. I like cotton abayas more and I try to keep the black to a minimum but at the end of the day, it’s still very very hot and humid and the type of clothing may not help much. The best way to deal with this heat for me is to just drink/eat plenty of water and stay indoors during the hottest times of the day.

    This kind of heat really makes you think about Hell-Fire and what it contains. May Allah protect us from it.

    Great article Safia, but I think it applies to everyone – not just Muslim Americans :)

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  6. sabirah

    … i sew my own long sleeves instead of the tight polyester ones I prefer loose cotton ones. I cut the sleeves off an old blouse or top, and sew a rubberband into the shoulder part so it holds up on the arms.

    That’s great in summer, it protects the arms from the direct heat of the sun and you don’t sweat underneath because air gets through. I don’t do abayas, but it works great with short sleeve salwar tops. People think I’m wearing multiple layers (I don’t have to say i’m just fat) but it even has a cooling effect.

    Constantly sipping on some mint tea… if it’s not fasting day of course. Fresh fruit, melons, grapes etc

    The worst thing are polyester, stretchy hijabs or georgette hijabs. It makes my scalp itch if I just think about it.
    I love to drink cool ayran in summer, a salted yoghurt/water drink that gives the minerals back

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  7. Naureen

    just a little something i wanted to mention…the women companions of the prophet saw wore darker colors in the heat…remember..saudi arabia? :-)

    so i dont think we can say its ‘better’ to wear light colors. in fact, darker fabrics can be thinner and still covering while lighter fabrics need to be a bit thicker to give u proper coverage.

    Another side thought im having is that im visiting pakistan right now and the temperatures here were CRAZY. and its made me thankful for where i live now where the temperatures are much more moderate throughout the year(comparatively).

    So if you enjoy the weather of the place u live in..dont forget to thank Allah for it.

    if we thank Allah..He will increase us in his blessings.

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