Masked. Blinded. Trapped.

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

This is my poor attempt to bring it all together with just a few personal reflections inspired by my sisters from afar, living on those beautiful mountain tops - the sisters who walked with me upon the clouds ... barakAllahu feehinna.

There were many times when I asked myself why God allowed me to go there and for what reason He took me there. I've been asking myself that ever since. I know there was something, but perhaps it will be years (should I live that long) before I ever put the pieces together, but this is a start, bi ithniLlah.


It's not easy being a Muslim woman in the West. This is the first time I've said these words to myself. Perhaps only now I am beginning to understand what it entails.

But first, what does it mean to be a Muslim woman? To pray on time five times a day, to pay zakah due on us each year, to fast, to be kind, to raise our children to respect and honour our human existence through life's proprieties and divine guidance, to care for our parents, husband, elders, and community? Absolutely. Is that all? By far, it is certainly not all.

When I think about what it means to be a Muslim woman, I feel at ease. I think about the Muslim women luminaries such as Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, 'Aishah bint Abi Bakr, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Nusaybah bint Ka'ab, and the list continues. I know that I will never manifest their greatness in any sphere of my life, regardless of how hard I may try, but their lives exemplify struggles, emotions, thoughts, actions, words, dedication, intelligence, rigour, spirituality, strength, and humility in what I consider a pure and true Muslim woman, a Muslimah. What I see in them is attainable, even if it is one million degrees below them. Along the same lines, with the same elements, they are us, and we desperately need to try to be like them.

As soon as I put the word Western in front of Muslimah, I feel the hairs on my head turning white. In my eyes, there seems to be no reasonable way for me to attain what is being asked of Muslim women here in the West. Some have done it without breaking, perhaps many have, but I don't know their stories, nor their ways. I can't seem to even set the stage right.

If I want an education, I must not let my guard down as I challenge everything that is being presented to me. If I want to work, I must explain myself to effect changes so my "comfort" (values) can be accommodated. If I want to marry, for some I must have a degree (as if it is any proof of what benefits I could bring to a home or family) or working potential, for others I must be willing to interact with them casually, and for yet others again, I must be willing to concern my actions wholeheartedly around family matters. All of these are among many others of equally confusing varieties. If I want to be a full-time mother, I have to defend my decision and prove its worth.

I don't want the best of both worlds, I want a balance.

I want to be true to the service of my family, as I see in my mother. I want to be true to the service of my community, as I see in my teachers. I want to be true to the cloak of haya, as I saw atop that mountain - and this I find the most difficult. As my friend wept at the threat of maintaining her personal level of haya, I knew that I had no true concept of the word. This was and remains a sad realization for me. But please understand, when I say "haya" I don't mean the niqaab, I mean the reactions of the heart.

Zaid bin Talha reported God's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, "Modesty and faith are companions, when one of them goes out, the other follows it."

It is also reported that God's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said, "Every religion has a character and the character of Islam is modesty (haya)."
Haya is not a light matter, and it is precisely for this reason that I feel it is my greatest threat and barrier to personal success in times when the world is spiraling quickly in its degeneration. These ideas and thoughts continue to tug at my heart, and yet I don't have the insight or words towards a solution.

I could live on a mountain... I could live in a village... I could live and no strange man need ever see my face, hear my voice, or know my name... I could, but I don't. I am a Canadian Muslimah living in suburbia, and this is where I belong, whether I like it or not. But it is only with the help of my Lord that I will ever have a chance of making it work.

Ya Rab, ya Rabil 'alameen, in our darkness we turn to You for light. In our fears, we turn to you for comfort. In our struggles, we turn to You for support. We depend entirely on You. Teach us, ya Rab, teach us, show us, and guide us to Your way, in the best of ways. May Your peace be upon us and those whom You love, may Your wisdom be near us, may Your greatness humble us, may Your truth guide us, ameen.

Update 2008-07-30:

I neglected to post this earlier. It's a lecture given by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf entitled "Men and Women." I wouldn't post it if I didn't think it worth listening to, so listen to it :).

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

(They're not long... yalla, ifta7hu.)

Update 2008-08-01:

Check this out: "Nun-Jabi" --- It has some serious flava' - Shi style!


ana muslim said...

Assalamualaikum Farzeen,

You write beautifully... keep on writing...

havent heard u for a long time, take care ya ukhti...

lots of love,

Farzeen said...

Wa 'alaykum assalaam wa rahmatuLlah ya habibti!!

What a pleasant surprise! I didn't even know that you knew that I had a blog :). Thanks for your kind words and your words of encouragement.

Yes, it has been long! I wasn't sure if you receive any of my e-mails. I almost never log onto Yahoo messenger (in fact, I uninstalled it from my computer, since I don't use it and this computer can't handle extras). Insha'Allah I'll be in touch, though my life is pretty much the same as when we last spoke, hehe.. alhamduliLlah for all.

Thanks for sending me a message!

"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]