Where the Muslimahs are

They’re shopping in Primark. I was in there on Saturday and there were dozens of us.

Where I lived before, there was a small but diverse Muslim community. Walking about the city centre, you would see a few sisters in hijab, but no more then that.

I’m now living in a city with a sizeable Muslim population. When I first arrived here, as soon as I stepped out of the station I passed by a group of sisters who gave me Salaams with beautiful smiles. I got in a taxi and the driver was also Muslim.

So much is written about Muslim women and it doesn’t just make our religion sound ugly, it makes us sound ugly too. Dowdy, battered, oppressed. There aren’t many positive adjectives attached to us.

That is why I love seeing Muslim women in public. I love seeing the diversity of our skins, all shades. The variety of dress from abayas, to Western clothes in layers. Dupattas and denim, trainers and sparkly sandals. Hijabs that are precisely pinned or cleverly wrapped. Sisters that don’t wear hijab, but always have a prayer outfit tucked away in their bag. I love that we are here, No matter what they say, what they write, how they stare, We are here, living our lives. Just like you…but Muslim.

I love my beautiful sisters and I am proud to be among them.

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14 Responses

  1. Bless you sister Safiya and thank you for dropping by at my blog. You have a wonderful way with words too. This particular post is especially touching. I wish there are more open minded muslimah like you in Malaysia. Perhaps the number is growing, I know for sure it has to begin with me :).

  2. I was talking to a guy from Missouri in class today…The guy’s sister was a convert to Islam and he seemed a bit contemptuous, saying ‘Yeah, she lives in England now but we stay in touch….It pisses me off, she’s just too smart to make herself subservient to some guy though.’ I talked to him a little more and got the impression that he doesn’t actually KNOW that this is what she’s doing, and that he just sort of assumed it. I tried to tell him that in my experience a lot of Muslimas were pretty assertive and in a couple cases I could think of, actually run the family more than their husband. Maybe I got through, maybe not. Maybe I was even wrong in this case. But I’m amazed how strongly the stereotype persists.

  3. I remember when I converted in England going to places in London that seemed a lot like the Middle East, women in hijab, street signs in Arabic, halal shops everywhere.

    Manal and I live in the metro DC area and there is a HUGE Muslim community here. It gets even better when you stick around and people get to know you. My wife’s family has been here for almost 30 and her father was well known in the community. When we first got married I went to the various stores and businesses with her. They knew her, like one guy came up and introduced himself to us and said “Inti bint Abd’Allah Mawyah” (You are the daughter of Abd’Allah Mawyah). When they got over the shock of her being married to a white guy and figured out I was a Muslim they were SO nice. To this day, five years later, when I go into these shops the manager will come out and personally greet me and ask after my wife’s family and the children.

    It is a great feeling.

  4. Love this post.
    I always want to break the stereotypes we are put into. I loved the way you described the diversity.
    In the US I’d love to spot a hijabi driving down the highway and give a big wave!

  5. Salaam Alaikum,

    Shakirah – Welcome to my blog, I’m glad you like it. Insha Allah I’ll be adding you to my blogroll soon if that’s ok.

    Dave – It’s strange it’s those who most strongly thrink that Muslim women are oppressed, also hold us in the most contempt.

    Abu Sinan – The DC community sounds great. I think in many ways the Muslim community in America, is a really vibrant one, more so then the U.K.

  6. Salaam Alaikum Mona – I love the diversity so much. I really treasure it.

  7. Salaam! This is a beautiful post.

  8. MashAllah. I know here in the Twin Cities its awesome, there have been so many instances where the car behind me is filled with muslims and the car ahead of me was filled with muslims.

    In Phoenix you never saw them.

    In Minnesota they are everywhere. Its SUCH a huge difference in my mental wellbeing. It boosts your enthusiasm.

    Alhumdulillah for Islam.

  9. What a beautiful post, Safiya!

    One of the things I love about living in Moz, although I’m not Muslim myself, is the large presence of people from many different backgrounds who are Muslim. There are Arabs, Pakistanis, Lebanese, Indians, Black Africans – a wonderful mix of styles and expressions just like you described.

    On Sunday I went to the pool at the hotel across from my house and had a great time watching a large family play and splash about in the water. Two women – sisters, I’m guessing – were in the water each wearing an abaya and a niqab. Their little girls splashed about in wetsuits.

    Along for the day at the pool were Mozambican girls wearing the teensiest bikinis imaginable – influence from Brazil – and tourists from Sweden and Italy. And, of course, myself. 🙂

  10. Hi Ali – Moz sounds such a fascinating country. Until I read your blog, i had not idea that so many nationalities lived there. I also didn’t about how well paid some NGO workers are either, but that’s another story.

  11. Assalaamu alaikum!
    Awww! Thats such a nice thing to say Masha Allah, or rather a beautiful way of putting it into words!! May Allah bless you for that!! Here in Nepal however, a hijabi is a rare sight, but getting less rarer InshA Allah. I am sincerely proud of being Muslimah, with wonderful sisters like you!

    Regards

  12. Salaam dear Safiya:

    That is why I love seeing Muslim women in public. I love seeing the diversity of our skins, all shades. The variety of dress from abayas, to Western clothes in layers. Dupattas and denim, trainers and sparkly sandals. Hijabs that are precisely pinned or cleverly wrapped. Sisters that don’t wear hijab, but always have a prayer outfit tucked away in their bag. I love that we are here, No matter what they say, what they write, how they stare, We are here, living our lives. Just like you…but Muslim.

    I love my beautiful sisters and I am proud to be among them.

    Beautifully and lovingly written, this absolutely made my heart sing, my beautiful sister!

    I pray that we have more of these recognitions of the commonalities and diversity we share as Muslim women!

    Love & duas,
    Baraka

  13. i love this post safiya!!!

  14. Salam, thank you for this post. I just stumbled upon it and it made me all warm and fuzzy, here in Utah it is a miracle to see another fellow hijabi on the street. I can count it on one hand. Sure there are lots of muslim women, they are just not seen outside. Wish they were

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