Thursday, 17 June 2010

I want to be a smokin' hot muslim

The truth is my generation onwards doesn’t know what to do. Can we be blamed? I don’t expect you to understand but it is just so damn hard. It is a constant fight in our heads.

On the one hand, we see girls on TV that wear tiny skirts and tight tops, and honestly they look gorgeous. Magazines tell us we should look like that, wear that and be that or otherwise we are lame and old fashioned. Honestly, we don’t want to be lame and old fashioned. We want to look and feel beautiful. We want to be admired. We want to attract. We want to catch the eye. We want people to stare. We want the hot guy to notice us. And yes, we want to look sexy. It doesn’t make it easier that there is a voice in our head that pushes us to have some fun, thrill and excitement; it’s in our nature after all.

On the other hand, there is religion and reason. In Islam, girls should be wearing long loose decent clothes. The face and hands don’t need to be covered. The “Abaya” is an Arab tradition, not an Islamic uniform for women, and the colour black is not a rule.

As for us, we understand what our religion wants to protect us from, we understand what our families want to protect us from, and we understand the reason behind all those preaches.

I know it sounds so cheesy, boring and old fashioned. Even though I take the risk of sounding like your mother who annoys you as hell whenever she says “your body is a gift, you are precious, blah blah blah”, in the end it is true.

Frankly, why would I want people to like me for how I look, it’s going away anyway. If I want to attract that hot guy, I don’t think it is a good idea to rely on looks. If I end up married to the poor lad who thinks I’m kate Moss and gets to see me when I wake up in the morning as myself with no makeup, I might risk killing him with a heart attack. Plus, cookies, cake and ice-cream are very tasty and tempting, so that fit figure will go down the drain too and if food doesn’t affect, babies and age will finish the job. Why care what people think? Life is tiring enough already, study, work, and relationships. If I had to care what people think I will be tense and stressed all the time. I want people to like me for who I really am. It makes it easy and relaxing because I don’t have to act. I know I’m sounding like a 60 year old talking but this is because media has done the job, they brain washed us so well, we are immune to all this talk. We are programmed to think it is retarded.

The result of all this jumble of ideas and emotions has resulted in a double standard lifestyle. Wrong and right are tricky to identify. Excuses are made for the wrongs to be validated and forced on society to be accepted.

Let me draw you a picture of Bahraini society. The malls are our catwalks, our New York fashion week, our Paris fashion week and we all are models. People go to malls to see and be seen by people. “Abaya”, skirts, jeans, “Hijab”, tank-tops, etc. Everything is available, from strictly religious to girls out of fashion magazines.

Some girls wear really tight clothes, which can be better called a second skin and a “Hijab”. This is how people want to force match the modern fashion with religion, even though they are incompatible, mostly. The clothes might cover the skin but the curves are flatteringly presented. What to do? We want to look like the actresses on TV and the models in magazines but still somehow remain connected to our religion.

Showing skin is not unusual either. Whatever you wear makes you that sort of girl. That is the harsh truth. Girls and clothing in Bahrain is a very hot topic. Oh and the makeup, if that 5cm layer is off you will never recognize the person. And recently the favourite colour for clothes was bright yellow. It is all big show.

As for us Muslims, the “Hijab” is another aspect in clothing. I will be perfectly honest. I will say what a lot of girls that wear the “Hijab” think but never allow their selves to say, because it sounds as if they doubt their selves and their religion. I know that I look without the “Hijab” a lot better than with it. I feel much prettier without the “Hijab”. It doesn’t make it any easier when the media displays us as puppets that are oppressed. Every time I hear it, it’s like a slap in the face. Every time I get that look, it’s like a stab in the heart. It hurts. It hurts very much.

That being said, I have another thing to say: no I don’t doubt the “Hijab”, it’s a part of me. When girls take off their “Hijab” there is a transformation; there is a wow effect that you get to see in movies when the leading female star shines in a beautiful dress. As non-Muslim you can’t understand because you grew up seeing people showing off what they have, it’s normal. It’s not normal for us. Hundreds of years ago, women even in Europe or America had to dress decent. In the early days of Christianity women covered their heads too because Virgin Mary did. Nuns cover their heads to this day and I never heard that someone said they are oppressed. We are just like them, we choose to live a certain way. Over the years, people took off a little more and then even more. Today there are nude beaches. As funny as it might sound, as a Muslim I’m not slightly surprised to see both men and woman with very little clothing. It even got normal. Mind you, it is only normal if that person is not Arab or Muslim. I’m not trying to say that people are bad because they choose to wear more, less, this or that.

We Muslims stick to our religion and traditions closely because if we let these foundations slip, every new scandal becomes a trend and then it just blends in and become normal. Where will we end up then?


  1. Martin from Denmark(and Oman of course;-)17 June 2010 at 16:14

    Hey Mariam!

    Nice to read your blog, i really appreciate your honesty!

    I hope you don't mind i challenge your views a bit - i guess that's also what a blog is for.

    I'm just thinking that it seems your'e deviding clothing into "being sexy" or "being decent", where the last thing means covering yourself up.
    For me, I clothe as i do to express myself as an individual. In the same way a girl can walk in a t-shirt without being superficial...

    To say it in another way: Why do your wear the hijab?
    'Cause can't you be decent when showing hair?
    Is the wow-effect, when taking it off, really worth it, when so few people actually get to see it - and furthermore if this is important to you, are you not then giving in to the urge of being attractive?
    Or is it just to follow tradition for traditions sake? Hopefully a tradition in itself is not a foundation for the islamic believe as you seem to imply?

    At least for me, these are the thoughts that - with all respect and the wish to understand - to some extend make me think of the hijab and abaya as a cultural/religious oppression.

    All the best from here and hope you're doing well in England!

  2. @Martin:
    Hey, I can't believe that the Oman project is 2 years ago.

    When I was talking about clothes I was describing the Arab community, I was talking about clothing from the Arab prospective. I know that girls can wear T-shirts and shorts and be decent. But in the Arab world, clothes are considered as messages. For as long as people can think back in Bahrain, this kind of clothing did not exist.

    There was a time in Europe when women couldn't wear trousers, and when the first women started wearing trousers they were considered indecent. But after time people got used to it and the new generations changed. It didn't happen in one day and one night. It took years. These changes are happening right now in the Arab world.

    I think change is good, but not every change. I think even muslim girls should dress modern. But what I was trying to say is that people set no limits. One of our german neighbors was saying that when he was young if they saw a woman's ankle under her skirt that was exciting and now its the whole leg. It doesn't mean these girls are so called "bad", no i don't think that my self. It just became normal.

    As for the hijab, the wow effect was just a positive remark and nothing important what so ever. It is part of our religion to cover our hair and I think the reasons are very hard for people to understand when they lived in absolute contrast to our life style. Why does the hijab bother other people when it doesn't bother me as the one who wears it. I don't see why I have to justify my self all the time, when I'm doing nothing wrong and not harming anyone else. As for, just a few people get to see my hair, well it is none of other people's business. I show my face, people can see my expressions when they talk to me. I share my thoughts and views. I think this could be other people's business if they choose to.

    I really think it is very funny that people keep saying that I am oppressed even though I sincerely straight forward tell them I don't feel that way. Oppressed is when someone forces me to do something I don't want or I am not convinced of, but nobody is doing that. The best example could be, I live in London thousands of miles away from family, friends and everyone who knows me. I could have taken the hijab off and lived a completely different lifestyle but I choose not to. I am perfectly happy they way I'm living. By the way, a lot of Arab Muslim girls in Bahrain don't wear the hijab and they are my friends. Oppressed is when you are held back in body and mind. I say whatever I want to say. I say what I think. I can talk to who ever I want to talk to. I go wherever I want to go.

    I'm happy the way it is, and that is all that matters.

    By the way, the next UNESCO project is going to be in Bahrain.

  3. Ach liebste Nichte, was bin ich stolz auf Dich und froh über Deine Möglichkeiten!! Wobei ich den Stolz ja ohne jegliches Zutun genießen kann, denn Deine Eltern haben ja ein gerüttelt Maß dazu beigetragen, dass Ihr Kinder so groß werden konntet, wir Ihr groß geworden seit. Dein liebes Mütterlein, meine geliebte "kleine" Schwester, mit ihrer Erziehung, wobei ich das Wort hier falsch finde, es war mehr ein Bemühen, Euch wirklich das Beste zukommen zu lassen, was möglich ist. Und Euch die Freiheit zu geben, das zu denken und zu tun, was Ihr für richtig haltet. Oder vielleicht auch: Euch zu lehren, was für Euch richtig ist. Denn genau darum geht es ja, um das Erkennen, was will ich, was ist gut für mich, womit schade ich mir.

    Deine Mutter und ich, Du erlebst es ja nun gerade selber, hatten es nicht so leicht. Oma und Opa wollten natürlich auch nur unser Bestes, leider haben sie sich jedoch herzlich wenig Gedanken darüber gemacht, was WIR eigentlich wollten ;-)))))))))

    Naja, so ist das im Leben, man muss seinen Weg gehen und Schwierigkeiten sind dazu da, dass man sie überwindet. So schwer es auch manchmal ist.

    Deine Tante

  4. Check out this article here from CNN - maybe you may have seen it before but the title gives us a thought: Bikini or headscarf -- which offers more freedom? Its a good one to add on to your post Mariam.

  5. Hey, thanks for writing back!

    Sorry if i seemed a bit rude. I just want to clarify that i don't go around thinking bad of the many girls and women in Copenhagen who wears the hijab. As you say; people wear it because they want to and how can one have a grudge against that.

    For me the thinking is:
    a. Female muslims covers their hair because they find it indecent otherwise.
    b. So if a girl no longer thought of showing hair as indecent; then why should she wear it?
    c. If there then only is cultural/religious traditions keeping the hijab on - is that then not some kind of oppression?

    Please correct me if i'm wrong about the scarf being about being decent. But if it is, then it surprises me that you seem to say the meaning of decensy is relative to the culture. I think that is saying that the idea and limit of decensy is a cultural-specific dogma - and thereby oppression.
    Okay, sorry, you also said "that people set no limits". Is that meaning that there is limits? That there is an absolute line between decensy and indecensy? I think one could certainly argue that there is, but i find it hard to see how showing hair should be crossing that line.

  6. @Tante:

    I know, I am one of the really lucky ones. Some people are physically imprisoned and others mentally. I'm not sure what is worse.

  7. @Sun:

    Thanks for the article, it was very interesting. It is true that less clothes doesn't mean more liberty and freedom. I see it as more stress to looking good and taking away the relaxed feeling and no worrying. Shame is in the nature of humanity but now for some reason people are taught that it is bullshit. Life is complicated and people make it even more so.

  8. @Martin:
    I know it is very hard for you to understand but you grew up in a completely different lifestyle. The way of thinking is different and it can’t be changed easily.

    Showing hair is not indecent. I agree. So why do I wear it? Showing hair in the past was indecent. But people decided to stop that. And then, as time passed less clothing was ok and now less and less. The result is nude beaches and video clips like "telephone" by Lady Gaga. It was forbidden but trust me in 5 years it will be ok.

    If you grew up seeing such images then you think it is normal and nothing is wrong with it. Humans can get used to really anything. But where I grew up it is not normal. If you see someone without a headscarf in Bahrain people look because it is not normal, it is new and interesting. I don't want people to look at me because I show my hair. I don't mind if they look at me for whatever reason but not because of the way I look. It will make me feel uncomfortable.

    Yes, maybe showing hair doesn't matter or attract anymore in Europe but to some extent it still does in the Arab world. Plus, I also choose to wear a hijab because I want to keep some limits because I think some limits are good, not all but some basic foundation or rules must remain.
    As to your other question. No, I don't wear the hijab because of tradition. The hijab is part of my religion, and in my eyes my religion is a way of life that I chose to follow. And mainly, I wear the hijab because of the purpose that I explained before, not because what others tell me or what others think or even tradition. There are many things in my tradition I don’t follow because I don’t agree with the purpose of it.

    I could take it off but I choose not to.
    One last comment I wanted to add, tradition and religion are two completely different things that people need to handle and think of separately.

  9. Dear Mariam,

    Im proud that a muslim girl like u exist.A girl who CHOOSE to be a muslim instead of trapped in a confused identity due to the fact that her parents are muslim and that their parent are also muslim,or that she was born a muslim.

    I read your previous entries and yes i absolutely agree with u.We wearing hijab is not because we are forced to or opressed like what most westerners believe.Just like u studying abroad and staying half way on the other side of the planet i can do just anything i want.My parents are not here to control me.Plus,in this western society no one cares if u sleep with different guy each night or walk on the street nude.Yes,that is the extend of their so-called freedom.

    Wanting to look beautiful is just a natural part of a woman.But doing it at the expense of our religion thus portraying what seems to be the image of a muslim woman? That one needs a reconsideration...

    To all my beloved sisters in Islam out there,let me tell u something:
    If there is anyone in this entire universe who loves us most it is Allah.And for that reason He made this Law.But the problem with us is that we don't have enough TRUST in Him to follow it or another way to put it enough IMAN(sad to say but thats the truth...)

    Yes,we might get all the compliments we long for but is it worth when we lose His LoVe?
    After all what matters in the end is His redha and His love.Think about it.......

  10. @Alexa:

    Reason is a strong factor in our way of thinking but sometimes emotion is stronger. I don't blame the girls for feeling this way or wanting to look that way, because it is hard to resist. I think that people don't need to lie to themselves and say that they like themselves with the hijab more but it is important to do the thing that will benefit us most. And as you said that what people think doesn't really matter but what Allah does matters.

  11. @Mariam
    Hmm... I still see some problems in your argumentation.
    First of you say that you're keeping the scarf because of what is happining in the western world. But me and my friends doesn't dress up like Lady Gaga or go to nude beaches. These phenonomens comes with the liberty of western culture. I don't encourage people to do these things, but i think they should have the freedom to do it as it has no real influence on others.
    My point being that showing hair doesn't have to be the first domino-brick. One can chose ones limits and stick to them without taking security measures.

    You're other point being that it would make you uncomfortable to wear it in Bahrain because other people would notice you. Because of what people would think.
    I'm sorry, but how is that not cultural oppression?
    I think it is, but i want to make clear that i do not think it makes you a bad person. There are unwritten cultural rules in the whole world, some which i obey myself, but i just think one should be concious about it.

    You also say: "I also choose to wear a hijab because I want to keep some limits because I think some limits are good, not all but some basic foundation or rules must remain." But you say yourself that showing hair isn't indecent, then how can it be a basic foundation or even a good limit?

    Finally: Why should tradition and religion be so far from each others? Many religions, including Islam, contains several traditions. As that of women wearing a scarf.
    I understand that you don't get to pick and choose what you want from a religion, but if one comes to disagree with the explanation for a tradition as the hijab and still wore it - wouldn't it then be religious oppression?

  12. There was a time in a 24-hour kiosk

    Miss X : did you parents come to visit you over here (since she knows i'm a foreigner)

    Me : No they didn't.

    Miss X : I think you can take that thing (pointing to my head scarf) off because they wouldn't know if you do it.

    Me :(smiling)I don't do it for them.I do it for myself,for my belief.

    Miss X : but you're not in your country anymore.You're in Russia.You should dress up like we russians do.

    Me : Well,God is not in my country only miss.God's everywhere.He's all-knowing.I love Him,my religion,and my head scarf.

    (i guess that's what people,wherever they are,including Martin,think of the head scarf.They think it's a tradition.I guess it's the most thing that ppl misundertood.)


  13. @ Martain...

    Are you sure you're not looking to express your veiws and not understand hers? I was reading your arguments and you seem to have faults with your arguments as well. A lot of your comments have to do something with oppresion. I don't get your main point what's this fixation you have with oppresion? State clearly weather you think Muslim women are opressed or not instead of saying Religious opression/ cultural oppression. If you want to talk about opression EVERYBODY is opressed. I just find it funny people nowadays want to focus on the "opression" they think Muslim girls are under. When infact there are girls like Mariam who love wearing their hijab.

    You also seriously need to look at this with an open mind you're pretty biased. You also fail to realize that she is talking from a female perspective whereas you say "I" and look at it from a male perspective. Look at it this way. When you walk on the street and you see a girl wearing a mini skirt etc.. and dresses herself up in a way to get attention you would definnitely notice that is her main goal she WANTS people to notice her. Perhaps mariam covers up her arms legs and hair in a way to draw less attention from her body. The less you see of her the less you care about her. BUT the problem is that in western society people ARE NOT used to having a girl actually COVER herself up, they are used to girls showing their arms and legs and breasts.

    You say you are from Oman right? Even if you are not Muslim you would understand quite clearly In arabic tradition and in Islam it's seen as indecent to walk around half naked and even if your clothes conceal your body but we still see the outline of your curves well that is sort of seen as indecent. Arabic and Bahraini society have ties to Islam. Islam has dictated that women cover up because it would be better for them to remain modest. & We Muslim women VALUE modesty. The hijab is not some sort of tradition its LAW. Sometimes culture and religion could have links with each other and sometimes it could be completely opposite keep that in mind.

    Maybe Mariam likes wearing her hijab because when she is covered up more men will not look at her sexually because quite frankly when a girl has nothing to objectively show what will they want from her? Girls will know she dosent care about her apperance in the sense that she will not freak over about the latest push up bra/ hair straightner/ hip hugging pants. Covering up in loose clothing and covering up her hair will give her more time to focus on IMPORTANT things and girls/guys would want to talk to her for WHO she is not what she looks like....

    I also don't seem what the hell the fuss is about... it's just our bodies we are covering. people have the right to draw on them dont they? we can cover it if we want to

    Salam Mariam :)

    Bye Martin.

  14. @Martin:

    I mentioned many reasons either religious, traditional or a statement that I chose to state for why to wear the hijab, not to why we "have" to wear the hijab.

    Lets go back to the word oppressed, oppressed is when someone is forced to do something they don't want or don't believe in, this is not my case nor is it the case of many other muslim women.

    I could take off my hijab today if I wanted to. I don't believe that a lighting will strike me as a punishment from god. To be honest my presents won't be pleased but they will have to live with it, they can't force me, they are too smart to do that. Plus I could even hide it from them if I wanted too. I know that some of my family members and friends will not approve and talk but I don't care and they know that, I have done my share of things they disapprove of and their response was either nothing or trying to change my mind which never worked so far.

    To be fair, not everybody has a good family but a lot of people do. Not everyone has the courage to step up and live their life the way they want and that is their own fault.

    If you think about people that are less educated and follow what they are told, well trust me, they know nothing else other than to follow. If someone is not educated they aren't able (most of the time) to build up their own opinion so they just pick up a lead and follow it, most of them don't know anything else, they don't know any other type of life, so it is impossible for them to think they are oppressed, because they think this is how it is supposed to be so they just live with it with no further thinking.

    Lets talk about something different. Do you think the girls in the west have it any easier than we do? Sometimes this so called freedom is hell. Girls have to worry all the time about their bodies. No girl wants to show that she has a little tummy or an extra kilo on her hips. Western TV channels and studies talk about Anorexia, Bulimia and all sorts of other eating disorders.

    Not all girls but some girls that chose to wear really reveling clothes such as tops with a deep cut or a bikini, they are always worried that the piece of clothing will move so they are pulling and pushing their clothes all the time which can be really annoying because this constant worrying takes away all the fun. Most girls limit their breathing to tuck in their tummies which is tiring as hell.

    In the end, I just want to say that I understand that it is not easy to understand but I don't see why their is such a big fuss about it.

  15. @Sukainah:

    I really don't understand the big fuss about the hijab. I really don't see why people are debating and discussing the hijab as a problem when we have hunger, poverty, terrorism, pollution, crime, and a never ending list.

    oh and even if the hijab is a tradition (it is not a tradition but a practice in our religion) so what? A few weeks ago I saw on TV that in Africa some tribes force feed their daughters until they weight over 100 kilo because they think it is sexy. Nobody is talking about that even though it super unhealthy. That actually causes damage when the hijab doesn't.

  16. mariam,im waiting for a new post from u! eid mubarak and take care =)

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