Connect with us

Women

Protection from Skin Cancer — and 101 Other Reasons for Wearing Hijab

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

While yes, that is one of the benefits of wearing ḥijāb, that is not the reason why we wear it.

I decided to start wearing ḥijāb the year the Twin Towers fell. I was eleven years old and firm in my decision, but had not yet experienced my “Aha! Islam is the truth!” moment that many “born Muslims” experience at some point. From that point on, I, along with all of my fellow ḥijāb-wearing sisters, became a walking billboard for Islam. I realized that although not all sisters are into da‘wah or want to be explaining and defending their faith all the time, we are all thrown into the da‘wah scene the moment we step outside wearing ḥijāb.

It all started in 7th grade… I was in public middle school and one of two ḥijābis in the entire school. It being the year after 9/11, I was fairly accustomed to filthy looks, “You poor ignorant, oppressed dear!” looks, terrorist comments, and “Go home!” comments, but mostly it was the questions… questions that I did not know how to answer given my age, nor did I have the confidence and firmness of faith to be able to answer with conviction. For example: A couple of days into school, a concerned teacher came to me saying, “Honey, you’re in America now. Don’t you know the Taliban can’t get you here?” I tried to explain that, in fact, I was born in America, my mom was whiter than white can be (and was not even Muslim for that matter), and my wearing ḥijāb had nothing to do with the Taliban, but my response came out sounding like a brainwashed excuse.

Soon after, during P.E. class, I was sitting with a new friend I had made. After walking on the track, I was fixing one of my ḥijāb pins when she turned to me confused, asking, “Waaaait… Doesn’t it hurt when you put those pins on your head?” I attempted to do what I do best and make humor out of the situation, so I sarcastically told her: “Oh no… When we are babies, right after we are born, they drill small holes in our skulls so that we can put pins in them to keep our ḥijābs on later.” The look of complete and utter horror on her face told me she did not catch my sarcastic tone. Oh well, there goes another friend… But the most common question of all, the “Why do you wear that?” question, was one that I would generally shrug off by saying, “Oh I’m Muslim so that’s why I’m wearing this.” And thus began my evolution on how to answer the “Why do you wear that?” question.

As I grew older and hung around different sisters of various ages and levels of Islamic practice, I realized that although my answer to the question was pretty lame, at least it was less confusing than the “It’s for protection” answer that most sisters gave… Okay, okay, I can understand from an Islamic perspective that ḥijāb is a protection from the eyes of non-mahram men, but for a non-Muslim hearing that answer with no further explanation, I can only imagine a couple of options going through their mind:

Option A: “Okay, maybe she means protection from the heat of the sun and skin cancer.”

Option B: “Okay, maybe she means that her father/brother/husband will beat her if she does not wear it, so she has to wear it for protection.”

The reality is that a large number of sisters, ranging in age from pre-teens to older married women, do not know a simple way of answering why we wear ḥijāb.

At some point in my youth, alḥamdulillāh, I was blessed to come into the company of an amazing group of brothers and sisters who were active in the field of da‘wah. They took me and a couple of my fellow youngsters under their wings and began to train us, teach us, and help us become confident in our beliefs and actions.

So why do we wear ḥijāb and how do we answer the “Why do you wear that?” question in a manner that not only explains why, but also seizes a beautiful, golden opportunity to open a da‘wah discussion with someone.

Questioner: “Why do you wear that?”

Muslim Sister: (smiles) “Well, I’m a Muslim, and as a Muslim, the most important thing to me is to believe that God is One and to worship Him alone (tawḥīd mentioned, check). That also includes following the guidelines that God asked of us. The reason I wear this is because it’s something God asked me to do. So that’s the REASON I wear this, however, after choosing to wear it, you realize there are countless benefits that come with it, among them are:

(The following points are ones I’ve found hit home the most with people. At this point, you can gauge what you think will resonate most with the person, and based on the amount of time you have, you can choose to mention some or all of these points)

1. Blessing of modesty: (If the questioner is a woman, going on a modesty rant will usually hit home hard.) This point can go something along the lines of: “When I dress like this, I’m forcing men to look at me for who I am, for my personality, and for what I say, rather than how cute I look that day.”

2. Identifies you as a Muslim: “Wearing ḥijāb identifies me as a Muslim, so anywhere I go, anyone who sees me immediately knows what I believe and what I stand for.”

3. Something found in all Abrahamic religious tradition: “A lot of people are confused by what I wear and find it to be something weird and strange. It’s interesting because if you look at righteous women throughout history, they were always covered in a similar way. Even today, nuns and Orthodox Jews cover their hair.” Many times it’s effective to ask: “Have you ever seen a picture of Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus?” (Note: This also shows that Muslims believe in Prophet Jesus) “What is she wearing in the picture?” Their jaw drops when they realize she is wearing ḥijāb.

4. Dress code for both genders: “Allah gave both women and men a dress code. The reason it’s different is because of physical differences and differences in the way each gender thinks.”

At the end of the day, although it’s very important to know why we wear ḥijāb and know how to explain it to others, having the answer down is not enough. We know that da‘wah by actions is ALWAYS more. The fact is, when you look the way we do, people are always watching you and what you do. You could act in a certain way or do something good that sticks in someone’s mind and eventually brings them to Islam, or vice versa. This doesn’t mean that we should wait until we get to a “high enough level” before beginning to wear ḥijāb, but it’s merely a reminder for us to remain conscious of our behavior and our actions.

Interestingly enough, even the way we choose to wear ḥijāb is da‘wah. I’ve had countless non-Muslim women approach me and ask me why some Muslim women wear skin tight clothing or full faces of make-up while wearing a scarf on their head. We would never expect non-Muslims to notice anything like this, but interestingly enough, they do.

Lastly, as Muslim women, having confidence and being well spoken and firm in our beliefs and actions has a huge impression on non Muslims. It makes them respect you and want to know more, rather than pity you and feel sorry for you.

At the end of the day, it’s all about our actions while wearing ḥijāb, the level of confidence in our demeanor when we explain our religion, the manner in which we choose to wear ḥijāb, and lastly (and least importantly) how we answer why we wear ḥijāb.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Nadya Aweinat is a Batman loving tajweed geek who spends her days hiking, learning and teaching Qur'an, and enjoying the year round superb weather of Southern California. By the mercy of Allah, she recently completed her memorization of the Qur'an and is working on completing a degree in Speech Pathology.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Muslimah

    October 1, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    Love the post! Hijab is not just the cloth but our attitude as well.

    Also, Hijabi sisters shouldn’t forget to get some beneficial Vitamin D into their bodies when they get home. We can, unfortunately, be the most at-risk group for Vitamin D deficiency if we are not careful. A blood test should rest your mind at ease, and if you do have it – sunlight needs to directly hit the skin of your arms and legs for at least ten minutes a day. Not more than that. Over-exposing your skin can cause skin cancer. Live healthy!

    • Avatar

      Suaim

      June 7, 2016 at 12:44 PM

      If a person is enough educated. Then they should know that vitamin D is not just produced from sun. You can also find in lots of food.

    • Avatar

      Luzita

      October 13, 2016 at 7:31 PM

      Actually Vitamin D travels from the skin where it is made and is activated and stored in the Liver, and therefore it does not matter which part of the body is exposed to Vitamin D. It can be just the face and hands, and these can receive enough UV light to make Vitamin D for the body. If a reasonable amount of time is spent in the sun this can enable the whole body to benefit from the higher levels of Vitamin D which is distributed from the Liver and kidneys.
      Vitamin D from the diet or dermal synthesis from sunlight is biologically inactive; activation requires enzymatic conversion (hydroxylation) in the liver and kidney.
      We can get enough sunshine by every day activities eg. Hanging out washing, gardening, playing outside with children, walking or cycling or even just shopping outdoors.

  2. Avatar

    beent

    October 1, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    Masha Allah sister keep up the good work. Alhamdulillah we are muslims and i love wearing the hijab.

  3. Avatar

    Abdul-Qadir

    October 1, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Assalamualaikum,

    I have only one complaint about this article. I wish it would have come out last week because I had the chance to use some of these answers. JazakAllah, and may Allah increase your knowledge and bless your life.

  4. Avatar

    Yasmin

    October 1, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this great post! I love how you mentioned that as hijabis we must be careful of the way we act because wearing the hijab truly makes us the flag bearers of Islam!

  5. Avatar

    Hijaabi in the rain

    October 1, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Great post masha’Allah tabrakallah . Keep up the good work

  6. Avatar

    Asmeeni

    October 2, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Mashaallah I love this article. Very simple to follow and love the sequence you put your points in and the way that in the very beginning you steer the conversation towards tawhid which is the major issue, hijab being, compared to it, an issue of less importance. Jazakumullah Khairan for this.

  7. Avatar

    ovais

    October 2, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    mashallah

  8. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    October 2, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Mash’Allah well said sister! At first when I saw the title about “protection from skin cancer” I was concerned that your article would actually justify hijab through using that reasoning! Trying to justify Islamic rulings based on our own limited reasoning is never good, because people always come up with counterpoints against what you state. Just stating that you do it for the sake of Allah SWT (and then adding what you think resonates) should be enough like you say. And hopefully then the conversation can actually shift towards explaining the Islamic Aqueeda to someone (when they ask how you know Allah exists and that Islam is the correct Deen). And of course practicing what you preach is most important! Modesty isn’t just related to dress, your behavior also has to reflect that modesty (by not being showy or ostentatious, by treating others well, etc). And can I just add that whenever someone says that hijab doesn’t protect you from sexual harassment, in a way that’s true because just dressing modestly isn’t enough, both women and men have to display modest behavior towards each other (by not treating each other as sex objects, by respecting each other’s boundaries, by helping each other out, etc).

  9. Avatar

    Safia Farole

    October 2, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Mashallah, great article Nadya! Thank you for the advice on how to give effective dawah on this topic!

  10. Avatar

    onechinesemuslimah

    October 2, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    assalamualaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu

    nice post masha’Allah! Not sure if you read this, or if anyone reads this.. but also a great way to answer a question is with a question.. i.e:

    Q: ” why do you wear that (hijab, niqab)?”
    A: ” Why do you wear clothes? ”

    Ideally, the one asking why we wear hijab would answer with “well i wear clothes to cover” and then we would respond “well I wear hijab to cover, it is my idea of modesty” …. so on and so forth
    this is a great way to open up a topic of conversation since a Muslimah and a non-Muslim have different views on modesty which leads to a general discussion on Islam insha’Allah!

  11. Avatar

    funiyyah hassan

    October 13, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    Salam•i really like dis program•

  12. Avatar

    Khaalidah

    October 15, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    This was an awesome well presented article. Its funny to me that some women get this question more than others. I’m rarely asked this and I work in the public eye. Women frequently ask though if its hot. And they say they just couldn’t wear it. I ask them in turn, if there is anything they are willing to do for their God.

  13. Avatar

    berserk hijabi

    June 8, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Great article,however, the reason of “it forces men to look at me for who I am,not how cute I look that day” didn’t really feel appropriate. One:You can be a super-modest hijabi with a jilbaab/abaya and no makeup but if you have a pretty face,guys CAN and WILL notice. I have a friend who once saw a guy in his car driving past the sidewalk she was walking at twice or thrice just to look at her.And she was wearing abaya,a hijab and all that. Also, how can a guy “know you for who you really are” if you don’t engage in unnecessary conversation or get to know them(which are both not allowed)?So yeah. The other explanations are great.But this one didn’t ring too true. The fact is, you cover up a certain amount of beauty when you wear hijab,but not all of it. I don’t wear niqab, but I think that if you really wanted someone to judge you solely by who you really are,hijab is just not going to cut it.
    Jazakallah khair for the article.

  14. Pingback: Day 19: Hijab Porn and the Futility of Thought Control | 365 Days of Hijab

  15. Avatar

    hijab shop

    January 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    very interesting, really well presented mashaAllah, gonna be using some of those points lol!

  16. Avatar

    Jane

    February 4, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    I’m curious that if as you say, one wears a hijab to prevent one being judged on skin colour, looks, makeup etc, then why aren’t men encouraged to wear the hijab?

    Men should also be encouraged to not be judged on looks or hairstyle. Men are also vulnerable to sexual exploitation (see ads with skimpily clad men) Wouldn’t the best way be for men to wear a hijab?

    • Amad

      Amad

      February 4, 2014 at 6:57 AM

      I think facts and statistics belie this sort of equivalence.

    • Avatar

      Umm ZAKAriyya

      February 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Of course , men have hijab too . But it’s not the same as for women for obvious reasons.

      Hijab has 2 parts to it both of which men and women must follow :

      1)modesty in character( includes lowering the gaze, being chaste etc )
      2)modesty in clothing

      The 1st part/ lowering the gaze ,and not staring at women is far more strict for men than is for women . Practicing muslim men don’t look at women’s magazines or watch porn etc.

      2nd part : men in islam , are required to cover certain areas of the body too .on top of that, there’s an etiquette for dressing for those who would like to be more modest .

      You wouldn’t see practicing muslim men on billboards wearing skimpy clothing or wearing an underwear on the beach .

      • Avatar

        Umm ZAKAriyya

        February 4, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        Infact the verse about modesty for men comes before that for women in the quran :)

    • Avatar

      Leenzay

      August 14, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      The meaning of hijab directly is screen/cover (it’s hard to explain in English)… so guys in Islam even in their own way have their “hijab”. Hijab isn’t directly meant to a piece of cloth; but rather than to screen oneself. This is done by wearing the veil, AND having Haya (being not blunt). So guys have to also have their own hijab…just not in the way of a cloth.

      They are told to wear modest clothes (they have different guidelines than women). They are told to not hit on/date/flirt/do zinnah (any sexual kind of act before marriage). They’re hijab is probably equal to (if not fully) to the women. So yes they do have “hijab” also in a way which they are commanded upon.

      Hopefully i helped plus wouldn’t it be kind of odd for guys to wear the veil (that would be way to funny)

      • Avatar

        aleya

        September 3, 2015 at 7:30 AM

        But why would it be ‘too funny’ for a man to wear a veil?
        Other commenters have said that men have their own hijab, and must also dress ‘modestly’. why is it not considered immodest for men’s hair to be uncovered? what makes women’s hair different? why do some women cover their faces too? why do men not cover their faces?
        i haevn’t read anything in the q’ran which suggested that these rules come from allah. it seems like they’ve been invented by humans over the intervening years. invented by men actually, not by women, which is why similar rules exist for orthodox jewish women and christian nuns.

  17. Avatar

    Sakinah

    April 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    This was a great article! :) I love your suggestion to simply state it is what Allah swt asks us to do – and then to add what we see as a personal benefit(s). It’s a simple way to explain the truth and easier for non-Muslims to digest… and naturally adds the opportunity for more discussion. Great idea!

  18. Avatar

    Rena

    September 27, 2014 at 3:41 AM

    This entire article is about coming up with an excuse to defend hijab. And the sad thing is a lot of it is about gaining respect so, is it impossible for a woman to look beautiful and be respected at the same time? Do we have to cover the beauty god gave us in order to receive basic human rights and equal treatment?

  19. Pingback: hijab reasonsCara Gampang Greenthekeys | Cara Gampang Greenthekeys

  20. Avatar

    Halimah

    December 28, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    This was beautifully written. I glad that I came upon it because a lot of people have been asking me and although I knew why, I couldn’t properly explain to them why. Knowing that it has one reason and many benefits is also an eye opening view that has changed mine.

  21. Avatar

    mina

    April 22, 2016 at 1:29 AM

    this was the greatest hijab story i’ve ever read. i was wondering if you don’t mind i could narrate your story in my class presentation?

    • Avatar

      Nadya

      April 22, 2016 at 2:18 AM

      Of course inshaAllah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Society

The Islamic Perspectives And Rulings on Rape and Sexual Assault

Code of Conduct for Islamic Leadership, Institutions
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Society

No-Nuptial Agreements: Maybe Next Time, Don’t Get Married

marriage
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

 “Nikah is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”

–Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Narrated by Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)

Many Muslims have experienced marriage, then suffered a subsequent divorce as a financial, emotional, and social meat grinder. Some critics have noted the divorce system seemingly exists primarily to benefit itself; the lawyers: mental health experts, investigators, forensic accountants.

They form an entire industry dedicated to extracting the wealth of a disintegrating family, often forcing the middle class or working class into poverty and bankruptcy. All of this happens without any noticeable benefit to society. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone.

For many, divorce happens multiple times. A divorced person who gets remarried is more likely to get divorced again.

While men often complain about how the “family court” system is against them, the reality is that women often bear the financial brunt of divorce. Divorce is more likely to drive women to bankruptcy than men.

After one or two divorces and a few lost years of retirement savings or a decade or more of home equity, another “marriage” starts to look downright irrational. My advice to such people: stop getting married, at least under state law. Get a nikah and a “no-nuptial agreement” instead. Allow me to explain.

Fun with Words

It is impossible to have a meaningful conversation about virtually anything unless we have a common understanding of the meaning of words we are using.

In law, even ordinary words have definitions that defy conventional understanding or even common sense. Basic familial terms like “son,” “daughter,” “father,” and “mother” have state law definitions that are different from what those words mean in Islam or our understanding. Under state law, “parents” can adopt adult “children” a similar age to them or even older, and have the same status as a biological child. In Islam, an adopted child is not the same as a biological child and does not have rights to inheritance in Islam.

In law, even words like “life” and “death” don’t always mean what you think they mean. A living person can go to court to dispute his death, demonstrate he is living, breathing, speaking, and everyone agrees he is the “dead person” in question, yet, he is ruled legally dead. Famously, corporations are legally people and are immortal.

Law is not the same thing as truth.

Similarly, it is folly to conflate nikah, the thing that exists in Islam, with marriage under state law. In different states, rules for who and under what circumstances people can get married can vary. One thing that all the state law definitions have in common is that they are not marriage in Islam.

What is Marriage?

For marriage, there is a state law definition, there is an Islamic definition, and there is the definition that the individual married couple has. Under state law, two men can be married to each other, but three men cannot be. In Islam, marriage (let’s call it nikah to be more precise) is a halal social and sexual relationship, and there are rules in the fiqh that are different from state law.

Under some state laws, “secret marriages” with no witnesses or publicly available registration are part of the law and commonly used. In Islam, there is a witness requirement for nikah. None of the rules in Islam require the state’s approval for nikah.

The third definition is how each couple sees their marriage. It is a flexible institution. To the extent it is an economic, social or familial partnership can vary widely. Couples may live together or apart. They may have one income or two.  They may share the same social circles or share none of them. The variations are endless.

Domestic Partnerships

For most of the history of legal marriage in the United States, marriage can only be between one man and one woman. States started allowing for “domestic partnerships” to give some “benefits” of marriage to same-sex couples, like employer health benefits and hospital visitation.

In many instances, these were available almost exclusively to same-sex couples, even after same-sex marriage became part of the law in all states. However, as of January 2020, California opened up domestic partnerships to everyone, including different-sex couples.

As a practical matter, domestic partnerships are simply state-sanctioned marriage by another name. It is notable though some jurisdictions may have limited domestic partnerships that are something less than marriage. In most states that have it, the same family law system, for good or ill, that comes with marriage under state law is also true of domestic partnerships.

While domestic partnership combined with a nikah is available to Muslims in states where it exists, there is no real advantage to using it.

No-Nuptial Agreements

For decades now, in the United States, there has been no taboo against men and women openly having sexual relationships with each other, living and raising families together outside marriage. Courts have long recognized these people should have contractual rights with each other.

When a man and women live together, those involved may be gaining something and giving something up. So if a man promises a woman something, and the agreement is not founded merely on sexual services, the state should enforce those promises, not in family court but civil court.

Marvin started it all

The principle case that established this is the California case of Marvin v. Marvin in 1976. A couple broke up, but the woman wanted to enforce promises made to her by the man. The man felt such a commitment should not be enforceable because, among other reasons, he was legally married to a completely different woman when this non-marital relationship started. Under California law, at the time (abolished by the time the case got to the court), this was criminal adultery.

No-nuptial agreements (sometimes called cohabitation agreements or Marvin agreements) can be used by couples when they want to have enforceable contracts but do not want to subject themselves to the family court system or the family code. They can include provisions of mahar, sharing expenses, equity as well as dispute resolution processes like arbitration and mediation.

The couple can also document limits on what they agreed to to what is in writing. For example, during a breakup, one party may be able to claim an oral promise the other party never made and potentially have it enforced in court. A written agreement protects both parties and the understanding they had when they entered into the relationship.

These agreements have a broad utility for many different kinds of couples. However, for some couples, the main benefit would be documentation that nobody is under the illusion that this is a marriage under state law. It is a private contract between two individuals.

Example of a No-Nuptial Agreement

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren. Both want to put their adult children at ease that this relationship does not exist for predatory financial reasons – a common fear when parents marry later in life.

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren.Click To Tweet

Salma and Sheher Ali do not plan to live together, which is common for couples their age. They mostly pay for their expenses themselves. They may spend the night at each other’s homes whenever they want but will split time with their separate children, grandchildren and social circles. Sheher Ali pays for joint vacations and outings. He agreed to a mahar. Both agree in writing they did not marry under state law.

Sheher Ali and Salma can still call each other husband and wife, since that is true for them and everyone they know. Both keep all of their finances separate, and each does their independent estate planning where they name each other as partial beneficiaries of their estates as required in Islam. The two also complete HIPAA forms allowing each to see the other’s private medical information and name each other in Advance Healthcare Directives so they can make healthcare decisions for each other.

Legal Strangers

Unmarried couples are “legal strangers.” Doctors won’t share healthcare information. Islamic spouses don’t get an inheritance from a no-nuptial agreement spouse by default. They don’t get things like tenancy by the entirety, community property, or elective shares in places where such things exist. As I described above, though, this can be remedied. However, as I described in the example above, the “legal stranger” aspect of the relationship may be more of a benefit than a downside in some cases.

Some “benefits” of marriage under state law are against Islamic principles.  For example, some state laws that provide for “elective shares” are diametrically opposed to the Quran’s share of inheritance.  Muslims must follow Islamic rules of inheritance anyway, which are different from default state rules, so being under state law is no special advantage. Even with proper planning, the downsides of the “legal stranger” problem still may come up in extraordinary contexts, however, such as lawsuits.

Immigration and Taxes

Another concern is that employee benefits to spouses and dependents don’t generally extend to those with no-nuptial agreements. Immigration law does not allow a path to the United States through the “family unification ” process for those with a no-nuptial contract. Marriage under state law (or the law of a foreign country recognized in the United States) may be the most practical solution in such cases.

In some cases, state-sanctioned marriage may lead to lower taxes. Other legally married couples may experience the so-called “marriage penalty” and pay higher taxes than couples with a no-nuptial agreement. Couples may often find they will pay less in taxes with a no-nuptial agreement than they would if they were married under state law.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

One may wonder, to avoid the “meat grinder” of the family court system, why not just get a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? It’s accurate that in general, having such arrangements are superior to not having them. These agreements offer greater certainty, though by no means total confidence, on how a divorce would end. There are disadvantages to such an agreement over no-nuptial agreements, however. A big one is that divorce is still in the family court system.

Many Muslim men, especially immigrants, may perceive cultural biases cause a stacked deck against them in family court. The nature of these agreements may make this perception worse. Sometimes, courts treat prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with a presumption of coercion. It is different from an ordinary contract. The family court system is often free to be more paternalistic and make a husband prove he did not force his wife to sign a document.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which will be worded differently in the different states that adopted it, provides for a process to make these marital agreements harder to defeat. However, the process is perhaps arguably more expensive, cumbersome, and awkward for a couple than a no-nuptial contract. Talking about a prenuptial agreement with a fiancé may be more uncomfortable than bringing up a no-nuptial arrangement and nikah. Without a state-sanctioned marriage, a written agreement is essential. Many people perceive the pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements as both optional and, perhaps unfairly, as a sign of mistrust.

Custody and Child Support

Unfortunately, there is no agreement you can come up with that will pre-settle child support and custody. A judge will decide those things.

It does not matter if you have a “plain vanilla” marriage governed entirely by your state’s family code, a prenuptial agreement, or a no-nuptial agreement. Children are not parties to such a contract. No court anywhere will subject a child’s care and welfare to such things.

For custody and child support, courts in family court will use the sometimes hard to define standard of “best interests of the child.” One Massachusetts family law attorney in a popular divorce documentary cryptically joked that she called children in the system  “little bags of money.” They are often a significant reason family law cases are so profitable for lawyers, mental health professionals, investigators, and everyone else.

No Protection for Poor Life Choices

A good rule to follow is never to do nikah with a person capable of having children unless you are sure she or he can be trusted to raise your future children, and you have made peace with making child support payments to this individual if your relationship ends. If you have a child, you may be suck with a child support order. There is no getting out of this one.

As an Islamic estate planning lawyer, the most important advice I can ever give anyone is not to get a proper estate plan. It is not to get a good lawyer. Of course those things are good, indeed no-brainers, but they have limits. The most important advice is to choose a spouse wisely. If you fail here, there is no law, no lawyer or document in existence that can turn back the clock. A no-nuptial agreement may make a future breakup easier than a family court divorce. There is still no guarantee it won’t be a complete mess anyway. Good documents are never a substitute for poor life choices.

“The Law of the Land”

Islamic institutions like masajid are conservative don’t like taking needless risks, as they should be. Many will not officiate a nikah unless there is a marriage license. They usually will not officiate bigamous marriages, on account of it being illegal.  Of course bigamy, like marriage, has a specific legal definition under state law. One almost universal refrain is that as Muslims we need to follow “the law of the land.”

No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the 'law of the land.' It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is. Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam.Click To Tweet

But what if that term did not mean what you think it means? No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the “law of the land.” It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is.  Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam. Recently, the Islamic Institute of Orange County, a large masjid in the Los Angeles area, changed its nikah officiating policy. Instead of always requiring marriage certificates, they will also recognize no-nuptial agreements.

Masajid Should Welcome No-Nuptial Agreements

Masajid should have standardized policies and procedures in place. Every masjid should have carefully considered policies to protect the vulnerable and the institution. No masjid wants to open themselves up to a “drive-by nikah” or other nonsense. One policy may well include mandating a no-nuptial agreement when there is no marriage certificate. There is no reason to believe one protects people and institutions better than the other.

Nikah is a vital sunnah for us. It is not something that should be in the shadows, secret, or something shameful. It is fundamental to how we organize our families and communities. When it’s done right, it helps us strengthen our iman, bring us closer to our communities and our loved ones. State definitions of words should not always be your guide to right and wrong.

It is appropriate that Muslims want to do the sunnah of nikah at the masjid, publicly and with friends and family watching.  We should recognize and celebrate every new couple that has done a nikah in our communities. Never mind the state has not sanctioned it.

The state statute book has its definition, we have ours.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Life

I Encountered A Predator On Instagram

A predator on Instagram posing as a hijab modeling consultant, going by the name of @samahnation, tried to prey on me- an underage, 16-year-old. We don’t know if the photos on Instagram page have been stolen from a victim. These predators operate under various names.

instagram predator
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

It was a Wednesday night in April and as I was getting ready to go to bed, a direct message popped up in my Instagram inbox. A little background; my personal  account on Instagram is private and it is rare that I let anyone, whom I do not know, follow me. But seeing that this was a grown “woman” with a baby and I had at least seven mutual friends, I let her follow me. 

I will say, I was definitely in the wrong to respond to someone I didn’t personally know. Somehow I thought her 105K followers gave her credibility. 

I was gravely mistaken. 

I opened the direct message. 

She had sent me a message complimenting me. This wasn’t new to me because I often get messages with compliments about my appearance from friends — we are teenagers. However, the stark difference was that I didn’t know this person at all. (I came to learn that these types of messages can go under the category of grooming). After complimenting me, she asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company. 

Many young women are targeted by predators on Instagram. Here is my story. 'After complimenting me, 'she' asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company.'Click To Tweet

I replied, saying that if I had more details I’d consult with my parents and give her an answer the next morning; to which she responded demanding she must have an answer the same night as she had other offers to make. 

I then went to ask my mother. Mama was sick with the flu, quite woozy, but despite her state she said,

“this sounds like a scam to me…”.



I decided to play along with it and test her. 

I told @samahnation to tell me more and how I could verify her and her company. She then sent me numerous copied and pasted answers —hecka long— about how I could trust her; how the company would pay me and how they will still make money in the meantime. 

hijab modeling scam

Thankfully, I was apprehensive during the entire ordeal, but as you can see, this type of manipulation is so real and possible for young women and girls to fall prey. This experience was honestly quite scary and jarring for me. I was so easily distracted by what she was portraying herself as on her profile. She had a GoFundMe for a masjid in her bio and posts of photos depicting her love for her baby.
predator

I began to do some research. I stumbled upon an article about a ‘Hijab House’ model scam. Using the title of ‘consultant director’ for a well-known hijab company, Hijab House, predators were allegedly preying on young girls in Australia. Hijab House has denied any link to this scam. 

Hijab House model scam

 

The predator went as far as to blackmail and pressure their victims into sending nude photos, or doing crazy things like smelling shoes! Eerily enough, @samahnation’s Instagram bio stated that she was based in Melbourne, Australia.


The more I engaged with this predator, the more ludicrous their responses and questions got. And this happened within the span of 24 hours. 

She went as far as to ask me if I would answer questions for a survey, saying all that mattered was honesty and that the purpose of the survey was to make me uncomfortable to see if I “won’t fall under pressure.”

Clearly, this last statement about being a speech analysis specialist was a complete fabrication. Again, may I reiterate that even older people can fall prey. You don’t have to be young and impressionable, these manipulative perpetrators will do anything to get what they want.



As shown below, the situation reached an obscene level of ridiculousness. You can see clear attempts to gaslight me and pressure me into answering or changing my stance on my replies.


This was the last thing I said to the predator before I blocked and reported them in an attempt to get them caught. Observe how as soon as I called this person out they immediately became defensive and tried to manipulate me into thinking that what they were doing and asking me was completely normal- that I was the crazy one for asking for proof. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. They had asked me questions I found too lewd to even answer or take screenshots of.

This bizarre encounter was honestly astonishing. I do not even know if I was talking to a man or a woman.

Alhamdullilah, I am so glad because even if I was a little bit gullible, I was aware enough about predatory behavior that I didn’t fall victim to this perpetrator. I am especially grateful for my mother, who has educated me about predators like this from a very young age; whom even in her drowsy state was able to tell me it was a preposterous scam.

I could have been blackmailed.

Talk to your parents or a trusted adult

I am grateful for having an open channel of communication, that my relationship with my mother is based on trust and I could go to her when this occurred. This is a reminder and a learning opportunity for all of us how these scary things can happen to anyone. We must learn how to take caution and protect ourselves and our (underage) loved ones against such situations.

Sis, please talk to your parents. They love you and will be your first line of defense.

Grooming

Grooming is a very common tactic online predators use to gain the trust of their victim. According to InternetSafety101, young people put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know on a personal level. “Internet predators intentionally access sites that children commonly visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.

If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions while online, including parents’ names, where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. Often, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate it to the child.”

These tactics lead children and teens to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation like the groomer. After the child’s trust develops, the groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex. Predators often use pornography and child pornography to lower a child’s inhibitions and use their adult status to influence and control a child’s behavior.

They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.

Predators will:

* Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information.
* Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities.
* Affirm feelings and choices of child.
* Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child.
* Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography.
* Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child.
* Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent.
* Drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents and friends.
* Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire.
* Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence.”

Gaslighting 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? 

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. “Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” writes Dr Stephanie Sarkis. 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? Click To Tweet

Recognizing signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting:

Second guessing. Are you constantly second guessing yourself when talking to this person or questioning your own morals that you wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise? For example, when this person popped up in my inbox I wouldn’t have thought twice about blocking or just deleting the message if it was a man but, since it seemed to be a woman I was duped into thinking that it was more acceptable or I could trust them more.

Feeling as if you are being too sensitive. Again I cannot emphasize this enough that you must trust your instincts, if you are feeling uncomfortable and your internal alarm bells are ringing- listen to them! Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting or manipulation. 

Feeling constantly confused. Another sign that you may be falling victim to gas lighting is when you are constantly confused and second guessing your thoughts and opinions.

Three takeaways:

1. Trust your instincts (I’m going to reiterate this, always trust your gut feeling, if you feel like you are uncomfortable whether it’s a situation you are in or if you don’t have a good feeling while talking to a certain person I advise you exit the chat or don’t answer in the first place.)
2. Never answer to someone whom you don’t know. I will say this was my first and biggest mistake that I have made: allowing this person’s messages into my inbox, and replying to their ridiculous claims and questions. Now that I think about it I don’t even know if this was a woman or not.
3. Set your boundaries! This is probably the most important tip to take away from this article. Setting up your boundaries from the beginning is so important. Whether it is a friend, partner or colleague, if you do not set your boundaries from the beginning of your interaction or relationship with that person; people will not respect your limits and choices later on. Especially if your boundaries have to do with religion, moral compasses, or even specific pet peeves you have. I cannot emphasize how much boundaries matter when it comes to any daily interaction you may have in your daily life.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

Trending