It had been a long flight and my brain had started to go fuzzy around the edges, so I wasn't sure if I had heard correctly.

The stewardess had leaned towards him with a tray of food. “Sir, here's your Muslim meal.”  The man took the tray and the stewardess continued, “Would you like white wine or red?”

I rolled my mental eyes and wondered what kind of noob air hostess doesn't know that Muslims don't drink alcohol. But then, my mental eyes rolled out of my head, because she held out a tiny bottle of red wine towards him, and he took it and said thank you.

What are you thinking right now? Is it something angry? Irritated? Disappointed? I'll tell you what I thought. I thought wow, does he really think that improperly sacrificed meat is a bigger spiritual danger than alcohol? Or that airline food is so bad that nothing less than being drunk makes it edible?

But hey, let's digress.

Fifteen years ago I was a junior in a public high school in Chicago. One day, I was a goth-grunge, army surplus loving teenager in spikes and wallet chains. The next day, I was suddenly a hijabi, but still in spikes and the wallet chains.

Yeah, I know. But it was the 90s.

My younger sister and I decided to start wearing hijab on the same day.  We didn't know exactly what we were doing or how we were going to do it, but we wanted to wear hijab. So we did exactly that – with our existing wardrobes, and our existing social circles, with our existing vocabularies. We walked up the street. We bought some hijabs.  We put them on without the faintest idea of how to really do so.

(In case you were wondering, YouTube hadn't been invented yet.)

So there I was on my first nervous day, wearing a badly-pinned hijab that didn't cover my neck or chest, in a short-sleeved Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt, wearing skater jeans, spikes, and two wallet chains. I had already endured a fairly awkward morning – my 'Outdoor Ed' teacher had looked me up and down with barely hidden amusement. My literature teacher made an over the top, pointed remark about a woman's hair being her “crowning beauty” while smiling directly at me. My stoner/skater/grunge friends were reserved and somewhat uncomfortable, and I don't blame them. I looked…weird.

Being a Mormon, my mother wasn't able to instruct us in proper hijab-wrapping techniques, so my sister and I had to make it up as we went along. My sister's signature style became The Turtle, so named for the wearer's inability to turn their head lest pins start popping off. Mine was The Lightbulb, referring to the bulbous head above a tightly wrapped neck, beneath which the tails of the scarf went into my t-shirt. I wasn't sure what to do with my hair, so I braided it and tucked it into my shirt.

(A classmate once poked the bumps of hidden hair running down my back and asked, “What the heck is this, your spine?” That's when I started twisting it up instead, making the bulbous part of my lightbulb even bulbier.)

There was one other sister in school who wore a hijab – she wasn't a Turtle and she wasn't a Lightbulb. She was a real hijabi, she wore long sleeves and a neatly layered scarf, and she could turn her head and everything! She saw me in the hall one day – she made eye contact with me in all my goth-punk hijabi awkwardness, and to my immense surprise – she smiled.

She beamed, actually. Her name was Hajar, and we never became close friends, and our social circles never overlapped, but I have always remembered that smile. On what was my first painful, awkward, and embarrassing day wearing a hijab, that one smile did more for me than she may ever know. And here I am, fifteen years later, wearing a properly wrapped hijab and an abaya, and I can turn my head and everything! Alhamdulillah.

Al Quran 49-11Imagine though, if she had reacted a little differently. When our eyes met across the hall for the first time, instead of thinking, “masha'Allah, look who's wearing a hijab!” she could easily have thought, “Look at her, wearing a hijab and she's not even covering her neck or her chest. Dressing like a punk and hanging out with stoners and guys – why is she even wearing it? She's just giving hijab a bad name!”

Instead of beaming, she could have glared at me. Instead of encouraging me, she could have given me the cold shoulder, and the disgusted sneer on her face alone could have provided me enough humiliating feedback at a vulnerable time to reconsider the whole Muslim sisterhood thing completely. That would have been terrible wouldn't it?

 

You know what else would have been terrible? If after glaring at me, she went and talked about what a joke I was to her other friends.  Or, what if we both happened to meet at the masjid, and she pretended not to see me so she wouldn't have to say salam?

What if she saw another girl like me – a sister who had been wearing hijab for a bit longer but was still fighting a vicious internal battle where she wanted badly to please Allah by wearing hijab, but her insecurities and desire to please the rest of the world created a sort of… disconnect between her wardrobe?

What if I was the other girl? What if I had been preppy instead of grunge, and my friends were girls in lipstick rather than boys on drugs, and I still kept the same friends and did the same things – but I tried to start wearing hijab because it was my first step towards modesty, even though other aspects of my behavior had yet to catch up – what if she had seen me and shunned me?  What if she had called me a hojabi?

Hojabi

I wish I was making this up, but since it's been memed you know it's real

Hojabi.

For my non-American friends, a ho is a sexually promiscuous woman, and a hojabi is a girl in hijab who's trying to fight the urge to be fashionable and appealing in a dunya that judges her intelligence, employability and personality by how attractive she looks. She may wear makeup or tight clothes. And people may roll their eyes, ignore her at the masjid, or talk badly behind her back – none of which is terribly encouraging to a Muslimah obviously in need of mature, supportive, Muslimah friends.

Like all Muslims, she is a work in progress. Like all Muslims, her Islamic practice is as unique as her fingerprint.  Her hidden strengths may complement her obvious weaknesses.  Her pants may be tight, but she may have a more charitable view of your character than you do of hers.  AllahuAalim.  Allah knows, and just as importantly – you don't.

CaptainJackAbaya

Compare this to: masha'Allah, at least she's wearing an abaya!

People who call sisters hojabis might believe they're coming to the defense of “real hijab,” but insulting a Muslim woman and using a word that indirectly accuses her of fornication is not – by any stretch of the imagination – defense of Islam. It's actually an attack on a Muslim. In fact, it is slander and a major sin in Islam.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

“Lo! As for those who slander virtuous, believing women who are careless, cursed are they in the world and in the hereafter. Their's will be an awful doom.” (An-Nur: 23)

We Muslims, we have a problem. We see someone attempting to do good, and Shaitaan causes us to focus on the bad. We see a sister in hijab wearing tight jeans and lipstick, and we say, “She's giving hijabis a bad name!”  The irony of the situation is that we're the ones givings hijabis a bad name.  And that name is hojabi.

Please let that sink in.

When the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saw some of his followers making wudu incorrectly, he didn't come up with a catchy insult to use behind their backs (wudu weasels?)  or even call them out specifically.  He simply called out – to everyone at once and no one in particular – Woe to the ankles of the hellfire.  That was it.  He reminded everyone present of what a few people needed to know, and he did so without pointing fingers or calling them catchy insults.

So here I go:

Mullet OverMuslims Are Like Mullets

Understanding other Muslims can be hard.  They can be weird and confusing – like a mullet!  They're all business on top but party on the bottom, and you can't figure out what they're getting at – hijab with leggings and lipstick? A beard with tattoos and a band? Remember, not everyone was born with a miswaak in their mouth, so there's a good chance they might still be searching for their footing as practicing Muslims.

Imagine that they're learning to walk as Muslims, and their wobbly, awkward, and painful first steps are just the beginning of their journey on Siraatul Mustaqeem.  They might be walking funny – or just wrong – but they're trying.  So if you see a Muslim who's walking the Islamic walk in an obviously flawed way, do the right thing and offer them your hand.  Say salam.  Smile.  Ask them over.  Become their friend, their brother or sister in Islam, and an inspiration in their lives to do better.

Help make their steps stronger and their path straighter, and in the mean time, protect them from bullies, backbiters, and anyone uncharitable enough to make fun of someone's spiritual limp. That's like seeing a recovering paraplegic take their first steps, and then shoving them to the ground and saying, “You're doing it all wrong! Just stop, that's an insult to walking!”

Hijab Can Be Hard

Sometimes your faith pulls you one way and your heart pulls you in another, and the opposing factions fight for control of your wardrobe.  Faith got you to put hijab on, but your heart convinced you that your pants weren't that tight.  The dunya likes to have its say too – it says your lips are too pale, your pores are too big, your eyebrows are too thick.  Sometimes your heart sides with the dunya and the progress of your hijab co-exists with previous habits of its absence, but don't let people get you down – they, too, sometimes pair religious progress with old habits. Sometimes we mix modesty with backbiting and slander, but please don't let that discourage you from wearing hijab or trying to practice more.

When you meet judgmental people, please don't be too hard on us.  Shaitan is pushing buttons inside of us that make us discredit the struggles of other Muslims and think we're better than they are just because our faults don't come with a waist size. We're the ones in really big trouble, because we're fighting with arrogance, and unless we remove every last grain of it from our hearts, we'll be barred from Jannah.

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Whoever has an atom's worth of kibr (pride and arrogance) in his heart will not enter Paradise.”

So a man asked, What about a person who loves (i.e. takes pride in) wearing beautiful clothes and beautiful shoes?

The Messenger replied: “Indeed Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Kibr is to reject the truth, and to despise the people.” (Sahih Muslim)

I'm not sure how he does it, but Shaitan tricks us into being arrogant and looking down on other people so badly that we decide they are  unworthy of even being allowed to practice Islam.  That's pretty amazing.  For our sake, take it easy on us and make the effort to get to know us.  Don't write us off as unwelcoming, hypocritical, uptight religious people – and please, don't hate us. We're sorry.

“It is enough evil for a person to despise his brother Muslim.” – Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) (Sahih Muslim)

So back to my brother on the plane drinking red wine with his halal chicken curry slurry. I'm grateful that I was one row back and he couldn't see me rolling my eyes around like cherries in a veiled slot machine. May Allah forgive me. Yes, alcohol is very definitely, inexcusably haram, but was the man still a Muslim? Alhamdulillah, yes. Was he Muslim enough to care if his meat was halal? Alhamdulilah, yes. Was he Muslim enough to avoid alcohol? Insha'Allah, I pray that one day he will be.

I seek Allah's forgiveness for thinking badly of him instead of making du'a for him, and I am writing this as a reminder to myself first before others. May Allah make it easy for my brother on the plane to leave the haram in his life, and give him the longing and the sweetness of increasing  the halal in his life.  May Allah guide us all and protect us from the subtle and insidious ways that Shaitan tricks us into arrogance, and may He accept our good deeds – however imperfect and incomplete – and grant us the chance to do better and more.  ameen.

55 Responses

  1. iffat sharif

    jazak Allahu khair sister !! this is a very important issue that need to be talked about!! i feel guilty that i once judged a muslim sister without even considering her internal struggles!! May Allah bless that sister !!

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  2. Umm ZAKAriyya

    Jazakillah khair for the reminder sister . This happens to me so often , and I have to keep sayin ” audhu billahi Min…” +/- Astagfirullah . And feel so bad about myself afterwards :(

    And I remember what Sh.Yaser qadhi said – Allah may forgive them for their ignorance , but may not forgive you for your arrogance !

    Truly , arrogance creeps in insidiously and can cause such great damage to a believer that I find it to be the worst of all qualities .

    May Allah cleanse our hearts off kibr.Ameen

    Ps : I was laughing so hard at the turtle , lightbulb and spine back …. Rofl

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  3. Nadeem

    As the first company to introduce nonalcoholic halal wine in North America, this column really hit home. Our efforts are to bring to market a beverage that many enjoy, and keep brothers and sisters in the community from voiding their principles in doing so. Our product line is halal certified by scholars in over a dozen Muslim countries, but yet we face daily skepticism and derogatory comments. Minds need opening, arrogance needs closure. Thanks for your article.

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    • shakeel

      In the beginning there was halal ham,, now halal wine.. what next? halal porn?
      What’s wrong with muslim self esteem? Why do you need to imitate a haram product and make it “halal”?

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      • Siraaj

        Halal ham = Turkey Ham / Turkey bacon
        Halal Wine = Wine without intoxicating effect
        Halal Porn = Marriage

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      • idesireranks

        I don’t see the problem…..part of Allah’s incredible forbearance and mercy with this Ummah aza wa jal. We now have a halal wine(inshaa Allah) which has all the benefits of wine without the negatives.

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      • Inqiyaad

        Siraj,
        How about ‘halal mortgages’? :) I agree with Shakeel, why do we feel the urge to explore things that imitate haram?

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      • siraaj

        Loans aren’t haraam, the Prophet (saw) took them himself. If the mortgage has no ribs, its their life to waste being in heavy debt ;) AMJA passed a fatwa years ago in favor of one of Devon Banks setups, with that exception I I think all other schemes are just conventional mortgages with extra paperwork and syntactic dressing.

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      • Inqiyaad

        That question about mortgages was on a lighthearted note after looking at the parallels you drew.

        Still, “Can I have your daughter’s hand in halal porn?” sounds hideous. Just like, can I have some ‘halal wine’? Marriage and grape juice sound much healthier.

        Halal wine is prepared by dealcoholizing wine or ferment. There is a strong fiqhi opinion backed by very solid evidence that prohibits even vinegar processed from wine. This ‘halal wine’ idea does seem truly osmotic. I will skip osmosis to keep my Iman from being put on dialysis.

        P.S: Parsimony dictates that if halal porn=marriage then halal wine=grape juice. ☺

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      • p4rv3zkh4n

        i agree with brother shakeel. we should not use terms that are oxymoron or a paradox. We should not confuse the masses

        halal meat = turkey via dhabiha method
        halal drink = soft drinks
        halal nikah (linguistic meaning) = in marriage
        halal loans = loans with no usury

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      • Hyde

        Exactly! Everything we must do we must imitate, why ?? I’m sorry I understand this article but I can;t agree with everything. How much tolerance must we show ? Enough milk in the coffee, there is little room for the coffee itself.

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    • Laurel

      Asalaamu alaykum, Nadeem. I read your comment about nonalcoholic halal wine and my first thought was, “WHY?!”

      Why, when Allah swt has blessed us with thousands of delicious, totally halal beverages, including grape juice (the original, natural, and non-controversial “nonalcoholic wine”), WHY should Muslims produce and consume a product that has a clear stigma attached and no place in our Islamic culture? But in the spirit of non-judgment inspired by this very article by Sr. Abez, I would like to ask you to explain why you think Muslims would benefit from your nonalcoholic wine. Perhaps there are arguments that I (and others) have not thought of.

      I can say this: if I were to drink a nonalcoholic wine-like product (let’s say, grape juice), I would be mortified to have anyone see me drinking it from a wine-like bottle or a wine-like glass. Even if I had the comfort of knowing that Allah SWT knew that it was nonalcoholic, I would fear that Muslims or non-Muslims would see me drinking it and get a false impression. I don’t even want to LOOK like a sinner, if I can avoid it. So, what exactly would your nonalcoholic wine look like? Is it marketed to look like real wine?

      I hope you can respond and clarify. Thank you and salaam.

      *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

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      • Vodkazai

        SO what?If there’s market for that, then businesses will want to capitalize on that :)

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    • Abu Cartoon

      Why ya’ll making a big deal about a non-issue? If it’s non-alcoholic then what’s wrong with it? Maybe it tastes good? Just like in the article, how people jump to correct a hijabi if she isn’t wearing proper hijab, you guys are jumping on this brother for something that is completely permissible.

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    • Rose

      Salam to all. There’s no commotion in my country, Singapore, on drinks. Those non-alcoholic wines are not called such. They are called fruit drinks made from real fruits such as grapes. Yes, they are packaged in wine-looking bottles but everyone knows they are fruit drinks. Wine bottles are beautiful because companies want to make wine drinks as something high-class, so it is a success now that people associate beautiful bottles as wine bottles. If only people could change their perception of wine bottles. And also, please don’t call fruit drink made from real fruits ‘halal wine’. My country is a secular country where everyone is allowed to practice their beliefs and we don’t have a problem of what is permissible and what is not. There is an understanding between what is cultural and what is Islamic here because Muslims here are made up of many races even though the majority of Muslims here are of Malay race.

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      • Riz Khan

        Nadeem has a strong case. Halal Wine may have a market i.e. those non-muslims who became muslims would have a halal alternative for their wine habit. It may further provide non-muslims the opportunity to enjoy benefits of wine less harms of alcohol i.e. low risk of heart disease, low cholesterol, less chance of stroke etc.

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  4. midia hassan

    it is important to not judge individuals for their mistakes, weaknesses, shortcomings; but one of the contributing factors to the trend – and it is a trend, one that is even celebrated – of women being attractive while wearing hijab and making hijab a fashion accessory – is that no one openly lectures, teaches, or discusses modesty in the Muslim Ummah today – it’s considered taboo to bring up what hijab is or to praise the real hijab because that might make some girls feel bad. i think this is the real issue – not individuals who are weak but the creation of a vacuum in the instruction and guidance of women in the art of modesty. It is a part of our faith like other parts and it should not be off-bounds for scholars to talk about how to do it right, and why to do it all. WE believers should not criticize, judge, but we should and must advise and receive advice. The Prophet peace be upon him said: there is no good in a people who neither advise nor receive advice.

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    • Rayan

      I’ve heard a lot about wearing hijab, and the importance of modesty in the Muslim ummah. But there are no lessons about modesty for men AND women – you need actual classes about ‘how to do it right’ if you haven’t been taught, it’s not something you can sling out in a Friday khutba.

      I think it’s a hard topic to talk about because it’s a fine line to walk with cultural differences. Some girls might consider makeup completely haram to wear due to the unnecessary adornment, whereas other people will cite that the Prophet pbuh encouraged the wearing of kohl and henna. Some cultures might give the impression that the darker and uglier the clothes, the better – whereas for example, I come from Sudan and we wear ‘tobes’ or wraps, just as covering but in very bright colors and patterns, usually in the latest ‘season’, as has been done for decades!

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  5. Uzman

    A sister contributed to our website about how she grew to love her Hijab. I hope this article also can help someone.
    maestrouzy.com/how-i-grew-to-love-hijab/

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  6. Saliha

    This is a good reminder mA. I used to be the sister who wears skinny jeans with a hijab and i’d avoid sisters in abayah because I’d automatically think “ok gonna get judged” even though that wasn’t the case. Now things are different alhamdulilah but it’s hard to keep smugness in check. May Allah guided us. Ameen

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  7. Abu Aburrahman

    Jazakum Allah khayran for your thoughts.

    The other issue however that closely aligns to this however, is that whether we realise the core point mentioned in this article or whethr we’re a frenzy rolling our eyes… do we actually go up to the person to advise them?

    Sure, there may be a couple of situations where the harm will *genuinely* be greater as a result, but do we consequently let ourselves off the hook thereby too easily..

    Wassalam

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      • Mahmud

        Susan, that’s true, I have no idea what that has to do with Abu Abdur-Rahmans comment? Were you criticizing him or agreeing with him???

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  8. FrazzledMuslimMama

    MashaAllah sister Abez, I always enjoy and learn from your posts so much! You are an excellent writer mashaAllah with a great sense of humor and, more important, a beautiful commitment to our Deen. Your articles inspire us to ponder, reflect, and try to keep improving. May Allah SWT keep you –and all of us –on the straight path and protect us from Shaitan’s dangerous, seductive whispers. Ameen!

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  9. O H

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Ahmed79

      So I have to tell you, without watching the video, your comment sounds very arrogant. Here’s why: why do you assume anyone should care about your evaluation of their behavior, heart, religion, etc. You are giving ppl “the benefit of the doubt” as if your opinion of them really matters. It doesn’t.

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  10. hamayoun

    “Like all Muslims, she is a work in progress.” Mashallah, that’s the best sentence in this article. We should always remember this whenever we see a muslim doing what seems to be wrong. And also remember that until we get to the point of emulating the Prophet(SAW) in EVERY SINGLE thing, we are also works in progress.

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  11. M. Abbas

    Thank you for reminding us of being tolerant in all matters including our faith! Jazak’Allah!

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  12. Em Hamzah

    AssalamU alaikum sis. When I started wearing hijab.. It was actually a headscarf and jeans and long sleeved shirt because I did not know I had to wear loose clothes. No one really told me till later. I got some abayas thinking maybe they were a cute cultural custom. I did remember wearing my headscarf with my outfits and getting disgusted looks from sisters. Probably my lifestyle did not help my reputation. Lots of frowning. Lots of smiling. I made dua for those who seemed to treat me the harshest (judging, disgusted looks, etc) on my journey to Islam and it helped me from feeling bitter. Alhamdulillah! I wear proper hijab and live a good life now no thanks to the judges, though!!

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  13. Riz Khan

    امر بالمعروف و نہی عن المنکر
    Enjoining good and forbidding wrong

    GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
    “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity. “

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    • Arban Shazan

      There is a famous narration which teach how to teach!

      One day an old pious Bedouin came to Medina. At the time of Prayers he began to make wudu’ but he was making his wudu’ (ablution) incorrectly. Hadrat Hassan and Hussain (Allah be pleased with them both) saw the old man making wudu’ wrong and they wanted to correct him. They didn’t want to offend him or make him feel insulted, so they came up with a plan. They went to the old man and said, “My brother and I disagree over who amongst us performs wudu’ the best. Would you mind watching us make wudu’ and be the judge to see which one of us indeed performs wudu’ more correctly? Could you please correct us wherever we are wrong?” The man watched carefully trying to judge who is better. In the end he understood what was going on and said “By Allah, I did not know how to perform wudu’ before this. You have both taught me how to do it correctly.”

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  14. RCHOUDH

    Mash’Allah nice article sister. Whenever I find out someone, who doesn’t look or act like it, is a Muslim I think Mash’Allah they still have their iman. Someone who commits sins but still calls themselves Muslim is to be praised for that because they could have easily renounced Islam altogether in the pursuit of their desires, but chose not to. And yes how you, as a Da’i approach someone is very important and everlasting. If you come off as being too harsh and judgmental you run the danger of indirectly causing that person to possibly renounce Islam, and on the Day of Judgment, you may be held accountable for that. I remember hearing once that some Muslims actually others who didn’t pray all the time atheists to their faces! How terrible is that? Also if you come off being harsh, the person you’re trying to “help” may become even more stubborn about committing haraam just because they’re upset at you. There was a story in the news recently about a Muslim actress who recently announced she would be retiring from show business. How did she come to that decision? It was because someone, a renowned da’i, told her he was always praying for her well-being and that he knew that deep down she was a good person and had the potential to change her life around. Prior to meeting this person, the actress only received criticism publicly for the way she was living her life and at one point had stubbornly refused to change her ways. Now Alhamdulillah she is in the process of changing her ways and has asked everyone who hears her story to pray for her.

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  15. Abu Milk Sheikh

    This is an excellent article, jazakillahu khairan for writing it.

    1) In the case of the wine-drinking brother wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for you to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and at the very least tell him not to drink the wine? Why did you mind your own business? It’s not like he was smoking a cigarette. He was about to lose his salah for 40 days.

    2) I don’t think the ayah of slander applies in the context mentioned. When the word ‘hojabi’ is used, the apparent meaning is not to accuse the sister of zina. A more appropriate, and just as weighty, ayah would be [Al-Hujuraat 49:11] “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”

    3) Part of our adab towards these sisters, and it is their right over us as Muslims, is to want what’s best for them and move them away from disobedience to obedience of Allah. While we’re all being so supportive of, and making dua for, our improperly hijab’ed sisters, who’s educating them that their hijab is incorrect? How many of them are receptive to attempts at correcting them? Sheikh Dr. Haitham Al-Haddad made one such attempt a couple of years ago and it was met with scorn by many of these sisters. http://goo.gl/auefJH

    4) For every sister that’s genuinely struggling, there is a sister who is in a state of rejecting the obligation, and what it entails, to varying degrees and for various reasons. E.g. the sister could be affected by anti-Islamic ideologies like feminism. In such cases the sister is not docile, has no respect for the People of Knowledge, and makes Islam up as she goes along.

    And Allah knows best.

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    • Danielle

      Salamun alaykum Abu milk sheikh,

      In response to your points:

      1) if you witnessed a Muslim taking wine in an airplane, would you forbid him from that evil? I think the example of the prophet shows us that he advised always with great wisdom. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is not walking around proclaiming and forbidding every evil arbitrarily. I understand you are concerned he might have lost his salawat, but how do you know he is even doing his prayers? Many people are more concerned with eating halal than they are with the pillars of Islam simply because they see other meat as unclean. So if the author had mentioned to him that he shouldn’t be drinking, it may have actually been completely inappropriate advice lacking hikmah.
      3&4) the fact that the advice you mentioned was met with scorn is exactly what the author seems to be pointing out in this piece. Some people are just not ready to implement or even hear advice. In some cases being told they are “wrong” is hurtful and discrediting their attempt (however feeble) to do what is right. It often pushes someone with already weak iman, further away from Islam. Someone not dressing properly has underlying issues. Without resolving those there’s no point. It’s like taking Tylenol to relieve a headache when the headache is caused by dehydration. It’s not the solution.
      Also the context is not a Muslim society. Notice how the prophet Muhammad gave advice tailored for each person, addressing their specific needs and contexts.
      We really need to understand this concept because improperly forbidding evil is one of the acts that over zealous Muslims do which cause many people to have a bad image of what Islam is all about.

      I think this article is all about not judging others and realizing we are all works in progress. Someone may have a more apparent deficiency than we do, but we also have deficiencies if they are hidden that is the mercy of Allah on us. Helping people is not about blatantly telling them they are wrong and what is right. Wisdom must be employed to do it properly and achieve results beneficial for the advisor and the one being advised.

      And surely Allah knows best!

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      • Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

        Wa alaikum as-salaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

        1) Of course I would forbid him from it – it’s an *obligation* to do so, as much as one’s ability allows. You think the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم would have seen a (apparently) Muslim about to drink alcohol and not immediately done something about it? It’s ‘hikmah’ to allow people to commit major sins openly? There’s nothing arbitrary about it. Whether he was praying or not (which would make him a non-Muslim, in which case him drinking is the least of his problems), him drinking alcohol was an open, *major* sin that was within the author’s ability to stop or at least speak out against. Alhamdulillah at least she hated the action in her heart, but then she goes and pretty much nullifies that by normalizing his behavior by saying words to the effect of “well at least he was eating halal food, alhamdulillah!”

        3&4) Them not being ready to accept it due to heedlessness, stubbornness or rejection does not remove the obligation of clarifying the truth. No one is saying to correct people in a harsh and/or undignified way. However what you imply is that they shouldn’t even be corrected in the first place, because ‘they’re just not there yet’. This is contrary to Islamic teachings. Even if the ‘context’ (the tree all revisionists hide behind) was not a Muslim society, these people are Muslims and obliged to adhere to all that Allah has proscribed. When they fall short of their obligations, it is obligatory on the People of Knowledge to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. The Shari’ah doesn’t become inactive or cease to exist just because the Muslim is living in a non-Muslim country.

        The last paragraph is ultimately a red herring since nowhere in my comment did I say that we judge what’s in a person’s heart (rather we go by what is apparent, and this is the Sunnah) or that wisdom shouldn’t be used to correct people. The author’s conclusions and comments like yours imply that these sinners should never be externally corrected in the first place. We should mind our own business, leave the sinners to their own devices and hope that Allah will guide them. Such feebleness has nothing to do with Islam, as demonstrated to us through the example of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم. It is an individual obligation on every Muslim to enjoin good and forbid evil to the extent that he is able.

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  16. Danielle

    Great piece sister!!! Masha Allah, I loved it. I hope it will help many become more compassionate and caring toward one another and reduce the judging that is so harmful to both parties. I love your story. Jazakillah khairan and thanks for sharing. May Allah make it beneficial. Ameen.

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  17. Tina

    As a convert to islam I was used to living my life a certain way. My parents weren’t really bothered with me or my siblings drinking alcohol at a nice dinner and to be honest sometimes the taste of the drink was delicious. Because I enjoyed it doesn’t make me a bad person, it just makes me human. So now that I don’t drink I order the mango margarita without alcohol. That doesn’t mean that am trying to copy a haram thing, it just means I’m enjoying the flavor without the alcohol. So I understand the need for a non alcoholic wine, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the flavor and for some cooking recipies that’s the perfect alternative. It actually bothers me more that some people look down on those who are trying to make theire life halal. God is the true judge, so who are you to say anything.

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  18. Hajar

    Salam, an awesome article. Reading your words made me feel less guilty about not judging others. I mean, there is the hadith about, if you don’t have the courage to stop others doing wrong you should at least hate it with your heart – but I’m guessing that means hating the action itself, but respecting the person for at least trying to do what they can.

    Idk. I used to hate “skinny jeans hijabis” with a passion (bc of course, hijab is not just about covering skin with skin tight clothing – it should also be loose) largely because they were influencing others at an alarming rate, but now that it’s become the norm to wear tight clothing with hijab, I’ve realised that anyone who wants to wear an abaya will eventually wear it, regardless of trends (and vice versa). And that those who influenced hijabis, also influenced non hijabis – a lot of people who didn’t cover their hair are at least covering it now, despite what else they reveal.

    Which leads my train of thought onto people being influences. I’ve seen it many a time – a girl dresses modestly, covers her neck and arms (be it shalwar kameez or loose western clothing) etc. Then she finds friends who are trendier and suddenly she’s going turban style and fishnet tights with hijab and.. well can I dislike the ‘trendy’ influential friends just a little bit? Because no matter how many times you give dawah to a person, invite them to talks, they’re not going to become your best friends and leave their own because you smile at them a few times and say hello in corridors. That’s not the way the world works. *sigh* it’s 1am and you’ve given me a lot to think about.

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    • Nadia

      Why does it bother you so much what other people do? Just do what you want to do and don’t analyze what other people do. Maybe someone that wears skinny jeans and hijab is taking a huge step towards modesty from wearing short sleeves / shorts.

      *Name has been changed to comply to our Comments Policy*

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    • Ahmed79

      Wait…@Hajar…I’m not understanding why you can’t actually become their friend, rather than just their dawah-person that invites them masjid events.
      Somehow, (and I’m not pointing fingers at you, since I don’t even know you) certain very conservative groups of Muslims have ended up isolating themselves in a relatively homogenous bubble and are unable to socially connect with the rest of the community. I myself have observed, as a general rule, Muslim women at the masjid seem to lack the normal social skills I take for granted in non-Muslim settings. Like knowing how to initiate a meaningful social conversation or even a friendship with someone who might be very different from you.

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  19. Aisha

    JazakAllahu kheyr. This is an excelent reminder. I believe if we as an ummah were just more focused on ourselves and our own shortcomings- such as judging others- rather than continually picking at others, we would be in a far better position. It is important for us to bear in mind that Allah is the most just and what we do comes back to us in this lofe and the next.. How many stories have i heard where a person arrogantly looked down on or thought themselves above another muslim, only to find themself committing the exact same sin some time down the line. The main point of this article, a fantastic point, is that we need to learn how to hate the sin without hating the sinner. It is much more difficult to achieve, it is part of jihad al-nafs, and we could all do with working on it.. May Allah make it easy for us.

    Also i found it pretty ironic how the comments on this article seemed to do the opposite of what was addressed.. Everyone started attacking the brother for offering a halal alternative to alcohol eith very few people looking at what is actually a very positive step. MashaAllah he is doing something with the intention of helping people to obey Allahs commandments and steer them away from haram, and what do we do exvept criticise him and look for a negative… Somehow the point of the article was entirely missed by those commenting! Allahul musta3an..!

    Thankyou sister for speaking so eloquently and tactfully about such a sensitive topic. Allah ythebtik

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  20. Nadia

    Very nicely written. Sometimes I think that WE are our worst enemies. How about making 100 excuses for your sister/brother? Not one if us knows what our future holds. As a hijabi I would never judge another harshly because I may struggle with the same thing someday. And that can be applied to any thing. Thanks for writing.

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  21. Ahmed79

    @Abu Milk Sheikh
    I felt compelled to respond to your last point in particular…
    Quite presumptuous of you to assume you know who is “really struggling” and who is not. And where did you get the idea that the woman is supposed to be “docile” and not influenced by feminism? As someone else commented, Islam is not inherently opposed to feminism. Muslim women aren’t required to be “docile”–that’s a word more appropriately used for domesticated animals. If you are trying to “educate”others by using words that are insulting to them and their life experiences, don’t be surprised if they ignore you.

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    • Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

      Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh brother Ahmed.

      It’s not presumptuous at all. It is knowledge through personal experience that many Muslims will have had, not just me, when dealing with such women. I posited being affected by the anti-Islamic ideology of feminism as an example only; there could be other reasons for their rejection.

      The word “docile” means “teachable”. Sisters who are in a state of rejecting Allah’s commandments, due to whatever reason, are not “teachable”. I’m being specific here – ‘rejecting’ is not the same as merely being ‘negligent’

      Appropriate usage of the word depends on the extent of one’s understanding of the English language, and I believe I used it here correctly. It is not my fault that you don’t understand the connotations of the word or its meaning in the context of my statements.

      May Allah bless you.

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  22. Aisha

    “(A classmate once poked the bumps of hidden hair running down my back and asked, “What the heck is this, your spine?”

    LMAO!

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