Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Islam began as a something strange and it will return to being strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers. (Sahih Muslim)

While browsing social media this week, I was intrigued by the title of an article that read: “Does representation lead to empowerment?” I was intrigued, because this has been something that I personally struggle with on a daily basis as a Hijab wearing Muslim mother of a Hijab wearing Muslim daughter. How do I help her understand that all the hype surrounding the Hijab recently is not representative of her reality or the reasons for why she should choose to dawn it?

The article is very thought provoking and has voiced the concerns that I have with Muslim women attempting to “normalize” our image or play into the obvious political agenda at play. We seem to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of all the flashing lights and billboards forgetting what our purpose is or why we chose this path in the first place.

The fact of the matter is we chose to submit to Allah (SWT) and His Commands. This is why we pray five times a day, why we fast, why we pay zakat, and this is exactly why we wear the Hijab. Simply, it is a command and we obey it. Yet, when we play into this attempt to make a trend of our faith, we lose that higher vision and that clear path to submission. We begin to look lower, on a worldly level for validation and belonging. We overlook the failures and blatant prohibited acts that are perpetrated by the very corporations we become ambassadors for.

We do not have to give in to these degrading “politics of normalcy” just to fit in or be accepted when Allah has made us for a higher purpose. We are not smiles, faces and bodies to be sold; we are the women Allah (SWT) calls “peace”, the holders of “reham” (Mercy), and those who bow to Him and Him alone.

As my 14-year-old daughter put it, “Ma, I’m a Misfit” and that’s okay. She knows that she can be unique, she can express herself, and she can be whoever she wants to be, but she also knows that her worship, her submission, and her Lord come before all else. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone except Allah and ourselves. Islam is not a pick and choose faith, it’s a way of life, it’s pure submission. So we may not fit in with the mainstream, but our goal in this life is not to fit in or to belong here. We belong to the world that comes after this, Insha’Allah.

We may personally struggle with our faith and this submission, but we shouldn’t compromise it for a few passing nods or some fading applause, Insha’Allah. Muslims are the hot topic these days and this isn’t about acceptance for these big box brands, it’s about business and influence. We need to stop falling for this same song and dance again and again. It just isn’t worth it and it only plays with our focus and drive to reach Him.

They like our fashionable Hijabs and our cute dresses, because it’s safe and it can fit into their way of life, but our beliefs and our Islamic worldview is not welcome. It’s dangerous, Subhan’Allah. We should keep quiet about our faith and integrate. We should walk, talk, and behave just like them…in a Hijab and they promise to give us fame, fortune, or at least what we all crave: acceptance. Yet, true acceptance never comes from compliance or mimicry. These are just distractions to make it easier to control and silence us. Allah (SWT) reminds us in the Quran:

“And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, “Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance.” If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper.” (The Noble Quran 2:120)

We don’t have to be accepted. We just need to have a voice and that will only happen if we come as we are and have an open and honest dialogue with those who want to have a respectable conversation or debate on the matters at hand. The statement: “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu” seems to fit well here. We need to stop serving ourselves up and pull up a chair, Insha’Allah.

If you look deeply at this strategy, this isn’t anything new. This was the same strategy that the Quraish used to convince our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They offered him riches, women, fame, and leadership if only he would compromise on Islam and give up his path, but at that time he is known to have said: “Even if they place the sun in my right-hand, and the moon in my left-hand in return for giving up this matter (Islam), I will never give up this Mission…”

We will never give up…

Glad tidings my “Strange” Sisters and Brothers.

May Allah make it easy for us and help us to recognize Truth and Justice, Ameen.

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