Saturday, 3 January 2009

London Muslimahs on the Hijab

I recently came across this video by a group of Muslim girls, as part of a selection of short films which were commissioned by the Government Office of London to supplement the third issue of On Road magazine, which you can read more about here.

In this video, the girls take us to Yasmin Safri's Arabian Nites store in Whitechapel and model a selection of her abayas. They also talked to people on the street about various issues to do with Muslims, and finally had a short discussion between themselves about hijab and it's implications on employment. I'd love to hear everyone's views on the video:


Anonymous said...

Salaams Sisters,
This is a very important video, since these Sisters are facing the same discrimination that we in the U.S. are experiencing. I am a new revert to Islam and just started dressing modestly and wearing the hijab to work. I live in a small mid-west, Non-Muslim community where there are many stares and questions, especially at work, where i am at risk of losing my job, insha Allah.
If the sound was better on this video, it would have been more effective, but overall, a great video on the issues women face in the workplace, while conforming to Islamic code of dress for women.
Thank you for showing this,
Maryam Hajar

yaseerah said...

Salam alaykoum

As a revert sister I am quite disturbed at the use of music in this video as it is plain and clear that music is haram in Islam, how can one encourage Muslims to follow the straight path using haram tools. As a revert Im very sensitive and trying my best to be on the straight path and we should be encouraging and suporting each other instead in matters of deen.
Do not forget we shall all be held responsible for all what we do so we should fear Allah. Having said this I really enjoy the fact that sisters in UK are taking an interest in hijab and islamic fashion.

Anonymous said...

Nice video. I like the 1st outfit. About that little discussion... Unfortunately women who wear hijab are facing kind of difficulties in society. But it's our responsibility to give the right impression about what hijab is all about & has nothing to do with our intelligence, hardwork, & professionality. Hijab is simply obeying Allah's order, PERIOD. But we have to work on how to deliver this message to them that we muslim women who wear hijab are no less intelligent & hardworking than other poeple. Personally, i started to wear the hijab only YESTERDAY :) & i'm a physiotherapist here in the UK. I'm on maternity leave at the moment but i'm not afraid to get back to work with hijab cause i'm sencere to Allah, confident, & educated. So anyone has an objection...... Bring 'em on.

Jana said...

Please can we keep the discussion on topic? I was rather hoping we could discuss some real issues that were brought up in the video.
Regards difficulties at work or in public in general, I think *sometimes* those of us who do wear hijab (especially the younger girls/teens) can get stuck in the mentality of blaming these problems on our hijab, when in reality the problem is with ourselves. That’s not to say that blatant hijab discrimination doesn’t exist (all of us have probably faced it at some point), but we need to be wary of getting into the victim mentality of oh ‘he/she didn’t employ me because I wear hijab’, when in reality he/she didn’t emply you for other reasons such as lacking in communication skills, professional attitude, knowledge, etc. So before we are so quick to put the blame on others and jump on the prejudice excuse, it would be better if we worked towards improving ourselves. Again I’m not saying prejudice and racist attitudes don’t exist, but we shouldn’t let that deter us from doing what we can to improve ourselves.

Anon: congratulations! Just walk in like nothing's changed :D

Anonymous said...

Me again (physiotherapist in UK)..
Thanks alot Jana! :D
Now i'd like to comment on the above comment (music is haram...). See this is the problem. We muslims are concentrating on details that are not important to non-muslim society. That non-muslim society DO NOT understand what the harams are all about. In my openion, these little details should be kept to ourselves as us muslims are free in how to approach Allah, elhamdellah we have lot's of options of good deeds. The non-muslim society doesn't need our openion such as music is haram. The non-muslim society needs our good personality in public & good professionality at work. Those little details can be applied at home. Our beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: (Al-Din Al-Mo3amalah), meaning that Islam is treatment/dealing with/behavior. Hence, when being good in the streets & at work it's also a great "Ajr" insha'Allah.

bulbul said...

i personally dont think music is haraam and i never saw or read about things like that said directly in Quran. If music as such gives you pleasure and does not bring any haraam thoughts to your mind, why would it be haraam? We all know in Prophet's saaw. times people used to play drums and stuff. We have many wonderful nasheeds, etc. that's out of the topic, anyway.
I am a revert as well, I was wearing hijab but not at the moment, i do feel very bad about it and inshaallah i will put it on again soon. I live in ireland and there are very few muslims here, especially in small towns, there are almost no muslims where I live, no mosque, nothing. And again the problem is that i have to work in a place which does not permit wearing hijab. I am thinking of changing my workplace so that I can again start wearing hijaab soon, inshaallah.
And thanks for this wonderful blog, I always read it, though never commented on anything, it's my first comment :)

Anonymous said...

why they got nancy ajram in the background lol?

Anonymous said...

Hello and Salaams Again,
I agree w/physiotherapist Sister regarding the music...these young women were in a non-muslim restaurant and it would be highly impolite to request the music be changed for their benefit..let's look at the big picture on how we would like to be preceived by non-muslims for the sake of Allah--as gracious, modest, and Jana a good employee, and a good example of Muslim ethics/character and most likely your boss or co workers, etc will find that Islam is not the scary thing the media makes it out to a social worker for over 15 years, i am very aware of the 'victim mentality' and how counterproductive it is to growth..and is what i try to help my clients, who have this view, to recogize in their therapy sessions. Once again, i wish that i could have heard what the women are saying..the sound is not good and i'm sorry to say i missed a good portion, therefore cannot comment sufficiently on it.
Maryam Hajar

silhouette said...

Jana - I Completely agree with your comments on 'victim mentality' and Muslims. And I think that it reflects a much larger problem among Muslims. Unfortunately I think as an Ummah, we have taken to the victim status because it's easier to cry oppression and blame others for our problems and avoid looking hard at ourselves and what We are doing wrong. That's not to say that injustices do not occur in the Muslim world, but like the beatiful Quranic verse says - Allah does not change a people until they change what is in themselves. We should be more objective and look at both sides of any issue, looking hard at ourselves first. Related to that...

I wasn't going to comment on the music thing at all but I can't help it - all I have to say is that it was completely off-putting to even bring that up. To each his/her own, Please. If we truly care about fixing our own faults (ie the big picture), we won't even have time to look at the perceived "faults" of others (ie petty picture).

silhouette said...

i just watched the video. i didn't care much for the conversation at the end, they didn't say anything i didn't already know. it was weird how the hijabis were on one side of the table, and the two non-hijabis, along with the girl who wore it differently than the others, were on the other side. only the hijabis really spoke.

i think it would have been much more interesting for these six women to discuss prejudice vs. privileges for hijabi and non-hijabi women in both muslim circles and mainstream society. no doubt the non-hijabis would be able to talk a lot about how muslims negatively judge them. that can be just as hard to deal with as job discrimination for hijabis.

i just really want to see people step it up and get into more depth with these issues, discussing complexities, contradictions, and to be more critical of muslims too. we're ready to move beyond these simplistic talking points.

Anonymous said...

i disagree with the girl who said that retail places rarely give you jobs! i have always worked in retail and most places that I've worked I have been working on the shop floor. I have also worked in River Island and I wear the hijab and I was working in all parts of the store not just the warehouse/stock room

Anonymous said...

I worked in retail so i disagree with the first statement. However i do agree with the remark at the end with regards to female graduates unable to get jobs and being asked questions about their marital status as i was asked this (i'm sure this is not allowed legally anyway). I recall in September 2006 sky news announced that Muslim women graduates from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds were more likely to be unemployed because of prejudice and misunderstanding- i can't recall which organisation conducted the study.
Still an insightful video for those who don't know.

Marian said...

'Arabian Nights' in Whitechapel I will be heading there soon inshallah :D
Thanks ladies!

Anonymous said...

I am a muslim revert living in UK. Since the first day I accepted Islam I've been wearing hijab, in one form or another(not necessarily in a traditional way, but always making sure that everything that should be covered is covered). It is true that sometimes we(muslims) face discrimination in UK, often when applying for a job. Still, I think, saying 'I'm not going to wear hijab because I don't want to be discriminated' is not right. It is very easy to make excuses and blame our failures on discrimination. One of the things I find particularily true about muslim women who do wear hijab and have a good job is that they don't let the hijab to be a reason to be considered a worse candidate for a position. They're confident about their identity and beliefs, they don't care about strange looks that people might be giving them. It is often the attitude that we consider proper that stands in the way of us getting what we want. If you can convince your employer that you're not a shy pushover women( a stereotype), but a confident and responsible woman that knows what she wants, then you will probably get the job. If you don't then try again, not loosing your confidence. Even if you are discriminated because of hijab, think about it in a different way: would you really want to work for someone who has no tolerance for your beliefs? I don't think so. After all, if someone doesn't like muslims he is going to discriminate them based on many factors: whether its a muslim name, skin colour, nationality or even the fact that you're taking a break to do salat, or you're fasting. Remember that they're going to be judged by their deeds and not going to be judged for your deeds- hijab is your responsibility and you can't blame not fullfilling it on others. Not unless you fought for keeping it with all your strenght and all your heart.

Anjani said...

Assalamualaikum Ukhti,
Nice to see discussions from muslimah in all over the world. I am from Indonesia, and I see nowadays hijab become popular and many muslimah realize their obligation to cover their body with hijab.Alhamdulillah

As a matter of fact, some of us may have anxious feeling regarding wearing hijab especially in professional environment. This is abit difficult for muslimah who live in non muslim majority countries.

What i am suggest is just try confidence with your hijab and show ur intelligent as muslim woman that offer u value added compare to other women.And if you are rejected to be accepted in work, do not ever think that it's because of your hijab, except the case that the company says directly to you.

Anonymous said...

I wish your comments rang true Jana but they do not. Unfortunately there is discrimination in North America for jobs. I have seen Muslims quit and leave well paying jobs due to the problems caused because the Muslim employee does not drink, smoke and join in the usual partying that goes on with particular jobs. Sisters have been told to remove and have even gone as far as to take the hijab off.

Even though this is a fashion blog the ramifications of Muslim identity and the impact of the head covering are relevant.

If the situation did not exist then the victim mentality would not exist. Look on the bright side, push your limits, focus and makes LOTS OF DUA and Allah SWT will change the sitution inshaAllah.

At the end of the day, Rizq is with Allah SWT and His Bounty to bestow on the Muslim.


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