Category Archives: Images (mine & others’)

World Hijab Day – a paradox on modesty?

Paradox, not parody.

In contemporaneous times, hijab is linked to both fashion & modesty. Is that possible?

Online, we can find numerous pictures, videos, articles, fashion shoots, marketers, retail industries, who promote hijab, beautiful hijab. I have drawers full of hijabs, arranged by colour and hues (yes I admit it, a little OCD) and I love bright colours and while I don’t exactly abhor black, I do veer away from it when I can. I have pins & brooches of every  various colour and shade. I have underscarves of various colours. I match my scarf to my suit or inner blouse, or to my topy & jeans, I match my pins to my scarves, I berate my Nieces for wearing drab colours…… I have to pause.

Haya is modesty in Islam. And it is a core value in Islam. Indeed, our Beloved Rasool s.a.w.s said:

 “Every religion has its distinct characteristic, and the distinct characteristic of Islam is modesty”

Modesty is not limited to dress, but can be found in behaviour, attitude, words. So that hijab (curtain) I spoke about in my earlier post on WHD is not limited to the cloth around our heads, but extends to the veil if you wish, around our conduct in every regard.

Years ago, ElderBrother questioned whether a hijab which was not black, was really hijab. I understood him then, and I understand now. Are our scarves of beautiful vibrant colours with matching pins and accessories of enhancement really fashioning us into more modest Muslims? Does ‘fashionableness’ derogate from the haya of hijab? Or do we need to simplify it?



World Hijab Day – note to self



In 2013, New Yorker Nazma Khan started ‘World Hijab Day’ as a means of promoting religious tolerance and understanding. That is its aim. The method was to invite Muslim and non-Muslim women to don the hijab for a day. Five years later, the aim & method are going strong, and worldwide, Muslim women in over a hundred countries have adopted the method and promoted it in various ways. And as with anything, there are naysayers and postivists (interesting note here is that other antonyms for naysayer, suggested by the online Merriam Webster include Pollyanna, optimist, idealist, apologist, and sentimentalist).

So instead of walking a mile in my shoes, wear my scarf and walk/run/sit/shop/work/work out/eat/drink/be merry/be sad/be sick/ just be* for the day. Is it hot? Sometimes. Is it stifling? Not really. Is it scratchy? Sometimes. Does it stay on? Yes. By itself, sometimes with aids and accessories. Is it necessary? We’ll get back to that.

Hijab is now a generic term (like hoover & escalator – although it was never a brand, unless you consider that wearing a ‘hijab’ now brands a female for all to know that she’s Muslim). Originally, (and I suppose etymologically) Arabic for curtain or partition. Now, hijab refers to the headscarf worn by Muslim women.

I had great difficulty with this WHD thing. I looked on horrified as EldestNiece stylishly wrapped the hijab atop/around the head of a female garbed in a sleeveless top. A visual contradiction with a visceral slamming of a door in my head. But why? Why is that any different from a female in long sleeves with her hair uncovered? Or one in shorts & a cap? Bemusing. Confusing.

And worse, using phrases like “Oh don’t you look beautiful?” “Oh, see how it matches your outfit”, “It’s so elegant”, “You can wear this brooch with it – isn’t it lovely?” – all phrases that are geared towards outer appearance, and some sort of fashion-consciousness. And perhaps flamboyance?

And there I recognise my issue. My own self-issue.

What is the intention of WHD? What is my intention when I put on the hijab? What is the intention when persons don the hijab for WHD?

Allah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) says: “Verily, all actions are but driven by intention and for everyone is what he intended.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Allah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) also said: “Certainly, Allah does not look at your shapes (appearance) or wealth. But He only looks at your hearts and deeds.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim

Photo Challenge: Windows

Through my window at Maghrib, St. Michael, Barbados
Abdullah b. Umar reported:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) say: Don’t prevent your women from going to the mosque when they seek your permission. Bilal b. ‘Abdullah said: By Allah, we shall certainly prevent them. On this’Abdullah b. Umar turned towards him and reprimanded him to harshly as I had never heard him do before. He (‘Abdullah b. Umar) said: I am narrating to you that which comes from the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and you (have the audicity) to say: By Allah, we shall certainly prevent them.

Sahih Muslim 442 : Book 4, Hadith 885

via Photo Challenge: Windows

Photo Challenge: Windows


2017-09-24 17.06.05
Setting sun through a window in the North Point Lighthouse, St. Lucy, Barbados

And the Sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. And We have decreed set phases for the Moon, until it ends up looking like an old palm spathe. It is not for the Sun to overtake the Moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere.

(Surah Ya Sin, 38-40)

via Photo Challenge: Windows

Culpepper Island – not on my bucket list

Earlier this year, Brother S wrote of his bucket list and included his wish to visit Culpepper Island, Barbados. He did so visit, and in late August organised a family & friends trek to the Island with himself as guide. Ok, I use the word ‘trek’ (which is what it turned out to be) but Brother S’ invitation said ‘walk’.  Amongst the items to be brought on the trek was a 50 foot length of rope. That alone ought to have warned me.

Trek to Culpepper Island

My photos end with the trek, and not with our scaling of the Island and not planting a flag atop. Why? Because the terrain became ….. rough, and I needed both hands – threw my phone to NoS who along with BH acted as my anchors along the treacherous path. Treacherous? Well, yeah – at one point I fell to my knees, and had to settle myself because I could not arise immediately – I could not find my left foot which had been placed on a deceptive clump of grass which apparently was growing aerially outwards and not upwards!

The walking journey began in Skeetes Bay, then uphill, onto a plateau with fantastic windy views. Next we began the trek along the hilly terrain, with marl and mud. At one point, my only way down was to brace myself crab-style on my hands and feet and slide down a gravel filled basin with BH bracing himself to help me. (Others slid down that basin like skateboarders on feet).

We made it to the small beach and I stood while my legs trembled. Brother S was first into the water carrying with him one end of that 50 foot length of rope. It ought to have been 60 to 70 feet because the other end (on the beachside) did not reach land. His initial invitation said walk to Culpepper Island. To be fair, his expanded invite said “Walk cross the beach and then wade out to Culpepper Island..” I think I missed the ‘wade’ part and saw ‘walk’. Anyway, by the time I had reached the beach,  Brother S was in the water, up to his neck (and he and BH are roughly the same height). Trepidation – I have to remember that I can swim and I really prefer my feet to be firmly planted on solid.

BD told me I had misled her – she had flat-ironed hair and she is the shortest in our family. Her friend S/ha didn’t walk with wet clothes. (We all thought we were walking through the water – at not less than knee high).  Nevertheless, we all proceeded to cross the water, holding onto the rope, BD behind me and reminding me he can’t swim when I stopped suddenly having lost traction and indeed, touch with the seabed. At the Island end, I put my footwear back on, and negotiated the very sharp rocks, did not clamber up the side but made it to just about 5 feet below the top of the Island. There faced me a chasm about 1/3 of my width (I could hear the wondering voices from the acme – how was I going to get up that?). BH literally had to haul me vertically up that final Island face. When I topped that Island, everything except my head was a-tremble.  The views were panoramic. From every side of the 100 x 70 square foot top of that Island. And watched villagers run down the path we had walked and jump off a ladder into the sea.

And then we had to make our way down.

I stood and wondered. And pondered. And finally had to make that step of fate/faith by grasping Brother Y’s shoulder and getting off the plateau. Made it down, and across the sea. (NoS carried BD on his back across that water – Youngest had long abandoned us in disgust at the puny figures we posed.) And then back to Skeetes Bay.

Surat Aale Imran: “And to Allah belongs the dominion of the Heaven and Earth, and Allah is over all things. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” [189-90]

Surat Ghaafir: “It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape and made your shapes beautiful and has provided for you sustenance.” [40:64]

Don’t be misled by the Title to this post – visiting it wasn’t on my bucket list (not sure I have one) but we are grateful to Brother S for his invitation, and for having been there, done that.

Flashback to Eid ul Fitr 2017 – strawberries & sawine

My posting has indeed been sparse this year, but I was going through my photos and voila – we have a post. Sister H ever so often has specials on imported strawberries, blueberries & cherries. This year, these played a major role in our Eid ul Fitr celebrations – part of the usual impromptu potluck buffet for the post-Eid salaat, part of the food gifts for various friends. I think BD baked a pineapple upside down cake or three, but memory is a little hazy on that part this year. Sawine (boiled and sweetened and spiced vermicelli pasta) is part of my Trinidadian heritage. Each year at Eid ul Fitr, my mother, whose culinary extents were limited by herself but whose flavours remain my favourite, cooked up and distributed pots of sawine to the neighbours on our street. Elaichi (cardamom), clove, raisins, sweetened milk (condensed milk), and the vermicelli. And at every Muslim home sawine was a given, and expected. Some added finely chopped nuts, some boiled with the fruits, some put out individual little bowls of the fruits & nuts so that you could garnish to your taste. My middle maternal uncle made the sawine in his house. My children expect it, and sporadically over the years, I have been prescient enough to obtain it and prepare it. Nowadays, you can purchase already parched sawine in the supermarkets in Trinidad. (Already parched (or is it patched?) sawine means that some ghee or butter or oil has been heated in a wide bottomed pot, the elaichi and sawine added and sauteed, then removed from the heat, allowed to cool, and bottled until ready to boil on Eid morning. Ah ha – it is toasted, or braised!) This year, I had to check with my Trini sources on what to add as my trusty Naparima Girls’ High School cookbook (the staple of Trini cooks:)) suggested cinnamon sticks – I did not remember that as an ingredient my mother added, and she either forgets or pretends to forget her recipes since she has happily given up cooking since my father passed away. And neither of us could get to her recipes – handwritten from her two extremely domesticated friends who wrote down the recipes for her when she moved to live independently of her parents – and which are kept in a clasp purse in one of the kitchen drawers.

So this year, Mum brought up a packet or two of already parched sawine, and I proceeded to prepare one on Eid morning. So BD, NoS, Youngest and I, partook of the sawine, and probably Aunty D. too. I added strawberries (now you see the link between Sister H’ specials and my post, don’t you?:). Enjoy. (I see that some cooks add grated ginger to the parching process as well – may try that – and we use a thicker (as if that were possible) vermicelli than the rice vermicelli or mung bean vermicelli. Some trivia – vermicelli is Italian for ‘little worms’, is thinner in diameter than spaghetti, is sometimes referred to as angel hair. Some cultures include sago in the sawine mix as well.

2017-06-28 07.06.51