beauty, ramadan, Uncategorized

A Day of Halal Self-Care w/ Bayance

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

With most of us around the world in lockdown, the topic of self-care has been more popular than ever. And with Ramadan upon us, now is the time to establish a solid, halal routine to be our best selves! To do this, I’m teaming up with my girl, the amazing Bayance, to go back to the sunnah and a few popular halal beauty practices. The glow up is real, y’all.

In Islam, beauty is so treasured and respected that we have been given a responsibility to protect and preserve it. As Muslim women, we’re encouraged to beautify ourselves for the sake of Allah (SWT), our husbands, and ourselves. It is said that beautifying yourself can be an act of worship if done in accordance with the sunnah. Check out the list below for my halal Ramadan self-care routine!

1) Hot Oil Treatments for Hair

“I heard Jabir bin Samurah being asked about the gray hairs of the Prophet [SAW]. He said: ‘If he put oil on his head they could not be seen, but if he did not put oil on his head, they could be seen.’” (An-Nasa’i)

“Rasulullah often rubbed oil in his head and also often combed his beard. He put a cloth over his head, which became like an oil cloth due to the frequent use of oil.” (Shamaa’il Muhammadiyya)

Oiling the hair was recommended by the Prophet (SAW), who did it himself. It nourishes the hair, promoting softness and shine and can protect against split ends. To do a hot oil treatment, you’ll need an oil of your choice (olive oil is highly recommended), an old t-shirt, water, a bowl, and a towel or plastic bag. Soak the t-shirt in water, place it in the bowl, and microwave for 30 secs or until hot. Make sure it’s not so hot that you’ll burn yourself. As you wait for the shirt to heat up, coat your hair in oil. Once done, wring the excess water from the shirt and wrap your hair in it. To insulate the treatment and get the full effect, wrap your head in a towel or plastic bag and let sit for 30 minutes or until the treatment goes cold. Then shampoo your hair and you’re done!

And full disclaimer, you will look crazy while doing this. Good thing we’re in lockdown, right?

2) Manicure

A’ishah said, ‘a woman gestured from behind a screen, with a letter to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in her hand. The Messenger of Allah withdrew his hand and said: “I do not know whether it is the hand of a man or a woman.” She said: It is a woman. He said: “If you were a woman, you would have changed your nails,” meaning, with henna. (Abu Dawud)

It is sunnah and hygienic to keep nails short and clean. But this doesn’t mean they can’t look pretty and feminine! To achieve this, you can file them to a nice shape, clean under the nails, and use a nail buffer to increase smoothness and shine without polish. You can also use any oil of your choice to moisturize the nail beds and promote nail and cuticle health.

3) Black seed oil massage for face and scalp.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:  “Use this Black Seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Black seed oil holds a number of health benefits both internally and externally. It is a well-known antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties as well. There have been some studies showing improvement of eczema, acne, and psoriasis for individuals using black seed oil. For skin health, you can use it to do an oil cleanse and massage for the face and scalp.

4) Rosewater

Rosewater is a very popular beauty product used in a number of households all over the world. It is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known to help balance the skin’s pH. This basically means that you can use it to soothe redness and irritation in the skin and also to protect the skin from damage. It can be used in place of normal water for clay masks or as a toner after cleansing the skin.

5) Clay

You can use rhassoul clay (or bentonite or green clay) to treat the skin and clear pores. You can also do a Moroccan-style hammam bath at home. This helps to draw out impurities from the skin, combat redness, soften the skin, and make it radiant.

And that, my lovelies, is my 5-step Ramadan self-care routine!

Bonus: make sure your everyday skin and hair care products are halal! One of the sneakiest ingredients is collagen which is often derived from beef and/or pork. Also watch out for wine and sake extracts. Funny story, the first 2 months I was Muslim I didn’t think to do this with my skincare routine. You would think I would have found the collagen products questionable with the cute little piggies on their packaging, but no. I continued to slather my face in it right before maghrib. Don’t be like me. Check the ingredients!

Be sure to check out Bayance’s post here for more genius halal beauty tips! What are your favourite self-care rituals? Tell me all about them in the comments below!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 14

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It is day 14 of our Ramadan Countdown which means it is officially two weeks till Ramadan, insha’Allah! Woop woop!

Today’s goal is to clean out and organize those playlists. I’m talking about music, TV, movies, audio books, YouTube videos, etc. Whatever media you are consuming, it’s time to make it halal for the holiest month of the year. Insha’allah by the end of today, I’ll have mine done and ready to go. I like to start off with Spotify. No judgment towards anyone who listens to music because I still listen to it sometimes as well. Alhamdulillah, I don’t nearly as much as I used to and I’m getting a lot better at listening to podcasts but it’s still a process.

So, since last year some songs have creeped up in my playlists that I’m thinking I don’t need in my life anymore. Instead, I’m going to be deleting them for good and creating brand new playlists comprised of nasheeds and educational Islamic and development-oriented podcasts. If you haven’t heard of them before, nasheeds are the Islamic equivalent of “worship music.” They are a Capella and most of the time sung in Arabic.

I’m doing this so that I only fill my head with halal and educational things as opposed to some guy talking about how much money he has and what he likes to do to women in his spare time. Thinking about it like that, I’m realising how trashy it all is.

Next, I like to set up my YouTube playlist with educational Islamic and self-development speeches and videos. This gives me something visual to turn to in my downtime. I love cartoons and it’s so tempting to sit back and chill with an episode or two when there’s nothing else to do, but Family Guy isn’t really going to keep me focused on deen. I’m not saying you can’t watch movies or TV during Ramadan, but I think it’s good to be mindful of the quality of the stuff we’re watching during the month. If it’s got a lot of haram going on, it feels kind of counterproductive to be watching it.

I also like to go through my phone and delete any memes, photos, videos or apps that might distract me from being my best, most productive self. This could be Snapchat or TikTok or any dirty joke memes someone keeps sending in the group chat. Anything that you feel addicted to or that puts unnecessary thoughts in your head can qualify for the bin.

What are you taking a break from this Ramadan? And what are you listening to/watching instead? Let me know in the comments below!

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Halal & Haram

We see these two words a lot online and in books but what do they mean exactly? For all of my new Muslims who aren’t familiar, it’s pretty straight forward. Halal means permissible and haram means forbidden. Doing something haram is committing a sin while doing something halal or more commonly referred to as fard (obligatory) or sunnah (recommended) is doing what we’re allowed or required to do. If something is fard it is basically the standard and what is required of us, so we don’t necessarily get any extra rewards for doing it. Doing something that is Sunnah or mustahabb is doing something that is highly recommended and you can receive reward for it.

Common examples of something haram would be drinking alcohol, eating pork, gossip, and zina. Things that are fard would be eating halal-certified meat (meat slaughtered according to the will of Allah and in His name; more on that here), keeping one’s gaze down around the opposite sex, dressing modestly, praying five times a day and paying zakat.

Sunnah directly means “The way of the Prophet (SAW)”. So the things that he did consistently are considered sunnah such as praying the extra rakats of prayer or starting on the right side of the body when getting dressed. Sunnah actions can also be referred to as mustahabb or naafil. There is also another category called makrooh which means something is disliked and not encouraged. Eating shrimp is considered makrooh as well as giving to someone with your left hand. These are actions that are best left undone but if you do them, it’s not a sin.

When we take an even deeper look into each action that falls under these categories we can see why they have been allowed or forbidden. Alcohol is forbidden because it is toxic to our bodies and also causes us to lose our inhibitions, do bad things, and get ourselves into bad situations. Lowering one’s gaze around the opposite sex is obligatory because it keeps our minds from wandering and prevents us from potentially lusting after someone and acting on that feeling. This is good to keep in mind if we begin to miss doing certain things or if we question why we have to avoid these things. And remember that Allah has only forbidden what is harmful and what will lead us to wrongdoing. This means that there is so much more to a fun life that Islam allows us to explore!

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Halal Food

Salaam, everyone!

Today I want to talk about what halal means.

If you live in America and did not grow up in a Muslim community or know any Muslims personally, the word “halal” may be completely foreign to you. If you grew up anywhere else in the world, you may be slightly more familiar with the term. Halal is the certification of food that is fit for Muslims to consume. It’s like the kosher label for the Jewish. Pretty simple. So what makes a food halal? Eating halal goes beyond abstaining from pork and alcohol. Most people have a misconception that as long as what a Muslim eats is not those two things, they’re all good. But it’s more than that. We are forbidden to consume any meat or byproduct of meat that is not certified as halal. Halal meat means that the animal was killed in the name of Allah by a cut to the throat and the blood completely drained. This way the animal is killed instantly rather than having to suffer through the process and it is said that the meat is safer to eat because of the absence of blood. Halal food regulators say the animals should be healthy and treated well before they are killed. For example, “the animal must never see another animal being slaughtered nor must it ever see the blade being sharpened,” according to The Halal Catering Company.

Halal also means that there is no alcohol or any intoxicating substance present in food or drink either. So jello, gummy bears, bacon, and Bailey’s are off the table. But that doesn’t mean that we have any less fun with our food. There are so many things we can eat so we aren’t missing out. In fact, the things we are forbidden to eat are forbidden because they are dangerous to our health. Anything that risks our health is wrong to eat or drink like eating too much and only eating junk food. Islam calls for us to eat in moderation, without greed and to eat things that benefit us because we are supposed to eat for nutrition not pleasure.

There are a lot of people out there who try to paint halal meat as unethical. But when it’s a process that specifically calls for animals to be treated well and to reduce the pain and suffering they experience during slaughter, I think it is the most humane way to go. Certainly much better than the mainstream meat industry which chooses to prolong the death of these animals by shocking them before hand. This way the animal is forced to go through a long and painful process before they are blessed with death. Not to mention many of the animals raised for our consumption are mistreated their entire lives. And also (I don’t even want to glorify this crazy claim with a response, but…) there are so many people who believe that the halal meat industry funds terrorism. You guys, we are not obsessed with terrorizing the entire word like certain news outlets wants you to believe. We just want to eat. The halal meat industry is a business like everything else and it doesn’t fund terrorism, that’s a malicious rumour started by scared people.

So, that’s it, that’s all the halal certification is. I hope this explanation was helpful and please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!

Nahlah

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Dining Etiquette

Assalaamu Alaikum!

I wanted to write an article that plays off of yesterday’s. One detail about the Islamic lifestyle that I don’t believe is transparent enough to reverts is dining etiquette. It’s simple and straightforward but if you are not surrounded by other Muslims who are willing to take the time to point these things out to you, how are you going to know?

There are quite a few details so I will write them all out as a list so nothing gets lost in translation.

  1. Before you begin eating, say Bismillah Irahmaan Iraheem. This means “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”. This essentially blesses the food and is equivalent to a Christian’s prayer before eating. If you forget and have already begun eating, say “Bismillahi Awwalahu Wa Aakhirahu”. This means “In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end.”
  2. Only eat with the right hand as it is the most honoured hand and it is seen as very rude to eat with the left. A full explanation can be found here.
  3. It is very common in Muslim households to eat with one’s actual hand, no utensils. I have found that my new Muslim friends and family are very considerate and always provide me with utensils to eat with. But honestly, I prefer eating with my hand now too. It’s more efficient and after awhile, you get used to it and utensils become a burden. Ever forgotten to grab a fork? No problem now.
  4. This one is pretty common sense and you probably already practice this one: wash your hands before eating!
  5. Eat the food that is directly in front of you. No reaching in front of other people to grab a bite or taking from your neighbor’s plate.
  6. Once you have finished eating, say “Alhamdulillah.” This means “Praise God.”
  7. Wash your hands and rinse your mouth after eating.
  8. You should always eat whilst sitting. This is sunnah and also recommended by scientists as it aids in fully digesting one’s food. This should also be done when drinking liquids. There have also been some studies that claim standing while drinking is bad for the joints.
  9. Take what is offered to you (unless you suffer from a severe allergy or insensitivity) and do not criticize the food.
  10. It is preferred to eat in a group and to converse about subjects all across the board, as long as they are halal.
  11. Eat in moderation! This keeps you from feeling sick but also takes pressure off of your digestive system which can cause issues along the way if not done. One way I make sure to do this is to take half of the portion I believe I need. I also avoid empty calories and stick to meals that are primarily vegetables and protein. Also another reason to eat with other people and to talk to them is so that you give your body time to digest what you are eating and this allows you to feel full faster.
  12. Obviously, eat only food that is considered halal. I am currently working on an article that gives all the details of halal food and debunks some of the myths people believe about it. It should be up within the next week, insha’Allah!
  13. It is preferred that you do not drink water with your meal as it can mess with digestion.
  14. And lastly, avoid gold and silver dishware as it is haram.

So, there you go. The 14 rules of Muslim dining etiquette. I have a feeling I probably missed something so if I did, please add the missing rule below and I will add it to the list! If you would like a more in-depth explanation of the above bullet points and the Hadith that support them, you can find it all here.

I hope that this post was helpful and that these tips will come easy to you. Bon appetit!

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Lonely?

Assalaamu Alaikum.

Today I want to address a more emotional topic: loneliness. As a revert you experience this in a way that is so completely different from any other. I’ve lived alone in a new city, so I feel like I have a pretty solid foundation to compare this feeling to. Loneliness as a revert Muslim can isolate you even when you are surrounded by loved ones. It can be scary and frustrating, it can eat away at you and threaten to take you down. Being alone in this way most commonly means that you find yourself living in an Islamophobic area with very few, if any, fellow brothers and sisters in Islam.

It’s an isolation that is all-pervading and can be almost impossible to explain to anyone who was blessed to grow up in a Muslim family and/or in a strong Muslim community. How do you even begin? It’s as simple as this: it’s just you and Allah (SWT) and it can make or break your iman (faith). When you are lonely like that, the only One you can rely on is Allah (SWT). Your family may not understand you, you may lose friends, you may receive dirty looks in public, you may face harassment, and you may know no other Muslims in your area. You are tempted at every turn and it is easy to lose control of doing the right thing. Often times I find it far too easy to slip up with very little positive influence in my life. If I am not making a conscious and self-disciplined decision to study Quran and Hadith and practice what I learn, I don’t stand a chance. I HAVE to pray five times a day or it won’t happen at all. I have to structure my life in a way that pleases Allah (SWT) in every way, or temptation will take control.

Alhamdulillah, I have an amazing husband and family in London who I can talk to at any time and who have already taught me so much. I just joined a writing group called Hijabies Hood that I am so blessed to write with and learn from as well. And I was born in the age of the internet so I have almost unlimited access to information on Islam. When you are feeling this loneliness creep up, look at what and who you do have. Check with your local masjid to see if there any women’s groups or classes you can join. Look for ways to give back to the community that will also bring you in contact with potential friends. And above all else, cling to your iman! Dedicate yourself to sincere prayer and study. Don’t let up even when it gets difficult. I can promise you that it will get difficult and you will question everything, but that is only a sign that you are going in the right direction and you must keep pressing on. And if you have no one else to talk to and you desperately need someone to listen, drop me a message. Your sisters in Islam are not going to let you down, we’ve got you.

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