MODEST & FASHIONABLE, WHAT DOES ALLAH SAY?

I have been wanting to express my feelings on this topic for a very, very long time but always thought it would be best if I just kept them to myself but...I can’t anymore. First and foremost, this is a reminder to myself before anyone else. None of us are perfect and we will never be. Perfection lies with Allah. We can aim for it, but we will only have it when we reach Jannah inshAllah. We are all on this journey together and we all want to attain Jannah, I strongly believe that we should be helping each other get there.

Sometimes that may mean having to speak the harsh truth, even though it may hurt.
It’s important for me to point out here, that I am not attacking/judging/picking on any individual. I refuse to mention names because it is unnecessary. This is not about them. It is about the actions and the reactions of the Ummah. I’m not here to tell you what to do, I am no one to be telling you what to do. I am here to simply remind you what Allah (swt) tells us to do.

In the past few years and more recently the past months we have seen the ummah celebrating a sister being the first hijabi model for H&M, a hijabi in Playboy, the first hijabi to walk the runway for Kanye West, Debenhams to stock hijabs and modest wear and various other designers realising how huge the Muslim population is and in turn creating modest fashion/ramadan collections.

While most of social media was filled with shouts of pride, excitement and congratulations to these sisters and brands. I was left confused. I was left wondering why it is such a big achievement to fit in with this fashion industry and this world. For one, these designers and department stores don’t actually care about us, they only want our money. Secondly, this industry focuses literally on how one looks. Islam on the other hand, has modesty at its core. I acknowledge that modesty is not limited to the way you dress, yet it is about simplicity, lack of extravagance and lack of vanity. So, how can modesty and fashion blend?

For many who haven’t known me for the past decade, you would assume I am here straight up judging. What you don’t know is that for at least 7 years of my life I lived and breathed fashion. I blogged about it. I even studied it. My experience with the industry wasn’t a pretty one. I was sucked in so deep that I considered removing my hijab, I wore a face full of make up, high heels all the time and my Instagram feed consisted of nothing but photos of myself. I was obsessed with myself. With how I looked. With what I wore. With how people saw me. I wore my hijab as a turban, I had long painted nails and used my looks to gain followers. And I wasn’t happy. I was stressed and always felt pressured to look “perfect”. And deep down I knew this was wrong. And then somehow, through Allah, I found the courage to break free. I fought my nafs and shaytan, I let go of my ego and realised that the argument I had been putting forward of wanting to show the world how Islam and fashion mix was simply a lie. It is not possible. Well, it’s not possible to mix the two when the fashion you’re speaking about is the global fashion industry. The industry that chooses models based on their looks, height, weight. An industry that views women as nothing more but clothing hangers that can walk the runway looking pretty and make people want to buy the clothes they’re wearing.
Leaving this industry, leaving this world that I loved, was one of the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I still love fashion and I am still fighting to keep it at an arm's length in order to protect my deen. I know a lot of people are going to disagree with this, and that is fine. I respect your opinion, I was there too. I am not writing this to change your opinion nor to put anyone down or make anyone feel bad. I am writing this to make you think.

Think about
why we wear clothes. What purpose do they serve? What does Islam say about clothing? About beauty? About the way one dresses?

The simple answer is, Allah loves beauty. In a hadith classed as Sahih by Muslim, The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, said: ‘Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty.” And our faith and belief in Allah’s beauty should encourage us to concern ourselves with our appearance, but also with our words and deeds. It is narrated that a companion approached the Rasul, may peace be upon him, and asked “What if someone likes that his clothing and shoes are beautiful?” To which the Prophet, may peace be upon him, replied: “Allah loves to see the affects of His grace upon His servant.” [Al-Tirmidhi]

When Adam AS and Hawa RA made the mistake of eating from the forbidden tree, the first thing Allah SWT did was remove their clothes. And they were so embarrassed they scrambled around and used leaves to cover themselves. Even though they were the only two people on Earth. Why? Because nakedness is shamelessness. And what is shaytaans aim? To bring us to shamelessness. And he is doing so well. Like honestly, gotta commend the guy for being so patient and perseverant. He is achieving his goal because we are weak. We are humans, and it’s natural to give in to our nafs. But this is made easier by our fellow brothers and sisters with thousands of followers on social media acting and conducting themselves in a way that is not in line with Islam. And so it’s easy to think, they’re doing it, so it must be okay.

And then we all turn a blind eye. Or those who don’t, get labelled as being judgemental or “haram police”. But think of it like this, wouldn’t you rather have a human being “judge” you (by this I mean give you genuinely sincere advice not comment under your picture saying “this isn’t hijab” etc) and you let go of your ego, fight your nafs and shaytan and make a change and get closer to Allah, repent and be forgiven than stand in front of your Lord and have Him judge you knowing that your judgement could go 2 ways - Jannah or Jahannam. You always see people telling others to stop judging and to leave that to Allah. But I think people often forget that Allah is actually going to judge us. I personally would much rather suffer a hurt ego in this life than an eternity or even a few years in the fire.

The other thing that’s become a popular topic is being “unapologetically Muslim”. Many see this as wearing the latest trends even though they may not be 100% according to the Quran and Sunnah, but hey, i’m still Muslim. Or singing, dancing and engaging in mixed gatherings, but hey, i’m still Muslim. I’m so Muslim that i’m unapologetically going to be Muslim and do all these things too. To me, that is not the definition of being “unapologetically Muslim.”  It is not about fitting in. It is not about doing what everyone else is doing while still calling yourself a Muslim.

So to me, to be unapologetically Muslim is to pray in public and be proud, not worry about what everyone else will think. It’s to dress in accordance to the Qur’an and Sunnah and not care about being labelled “extreme” even by your fellow Muslims. It’s to give dawah. It’s to be kind, caring and emulate the ways of our Rasul. It’s to want to be like Khadijah RA and not like Kylie Jenner (lmao never thought I’d actually say this in a serious way, but for reals) Khadijah should be #goals not Kylie.

So what about fashion and Islam? I believe we can mix the two if we stay out of the global industry. If we remain as an ummah and design clothing with the intent of providing items that are in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah but are presentable and classy. We don’t need fashion shows. We don’t need to abuse and take advantage of a woman's appearance to sell clothes. Clothing is a means to an end. It is not the end. We wear clothes to cover ourselves. This doesn’t mean you can’t like clothes. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear beautiful clothes. This doesn’t mean you have to wear something that resembles a potato sack. But it does mean that when you get dressed you are thinking about pleasing your Lord rather than pleasing the people.

I think one of the biggest issue with this is our understanding of what Islam says about covering ourselves. I recommend watching this video by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, he takes khimar back to its root word and explains what Allah (swt) means in the Quran when he tells us to “take our khimar and throw it over our chest.”


I leave you with this hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

Al-Sindi commented on this in Hashiyat Ibn Majah:
“Strange” refers to the small number of its adherents. The basic meaning of ghareeb (a stranger) is being far from one's homeland. “And will revert to being strange” refers to the small number of those who will adhere to its teachings even though its followers are many. “So give glad tidings to the strangers” means those who follow its commands. “Tooba (glad tidings)” has been interpreted as meaning Paradise or a great tree in Paradise. This shows that supporting Islam and following its commands may require leaving one's homeland and being patient in bearing the difficulties of being a stranger, as was the case in the beginning.

15 comments

  • Jazak Allahu Khairan for this sis, I’m happy to have chanced upon reading your blog. Very well written and some really intriguing topics discussed. May Allah bless and reward you. Ameen ❤

    Rooshna
  • JazakAllah khair to all of you who have taken the time out to read this post and leave a comment.

    Ayesha, I love your litmus test! Keeps it simple. Another one I like to use is – can I pray in this? If yes, wear it. If no, don’t.

    Samia, thank you so much and ameen. I know I have fallen into the “only Allah can judge me” train of thought, may Allah guide and protect us all!

    Sule, thank you dear! Would love to follow you back on instagram, send me a DM!

    Naeema Ismail
  • Thankyou for sharing your thoughts. Its so refreshing and comforting to know there is someone out there who thinks this way (who is also on insta and blogging)

    Sule Aygun
  • I just came upon this post and I am so touched by your words. JazakAllah kheir for taking this topic and explaining with such grace. My favorite part had to be that we casually say “only Allah will judge” and fail to realize the gravity of those words. It was also inspiring to read your departure from the fashion world. I am glad that I know this side of you, Alhumdulillah :) May Allah keep you steadfast on the straight path, ameen.

    Samia (@SunnahLiving)
  • Assalamualaikum , you spoke my mind dear. May Allah swt bless you abundantly ameen

    Amal

Leave a comment