Showcase how you wear Artizara with creative photos of your best looking ensembles, graphic collages of what the brand means to you, or even expressive word art. Anything goes… because only you know how best to “Express your Artizara.”
Become our fan on Facebook where more details on how to submit your work are provided. Receive your 10% coupon by entering your email on the website: artizara.com
We’ll be judging all the submissions the week of November 19th 2009, so be sure to express yourself before then!
3 talented winners will receive the following recognition:
-An Artizara gift certificate ($500, $300, and $200)
-Their submission showcased on the Artizara homepage and Artizara Facebook page
Click on this link to be directed to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artizaracom/49697738670
Contact email@example.com for additional information.
Gift-giving is a way to express appreciation, gratitude and love towards another. Gift giving is a part of many world cultures, though the items chosen may be different, and they may be given at certain times and also given for various reasons.
Gift-giving has always been a strong and meaningful practice in Islam.
Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) encouraged Muslims to both give and receive gifts. Here are some traditions of the Prophet (S.A.W) on this matter. These traditions come from Sahih Bukhari, an authentic book on Islamic Ahaadith.
The Prophet (S.A.W) encouraged us to accept gifts graciously, even if they are very simple and humble
The beloved wife of The Prophet(S.A.W),’Aisha (R.A), said that Allah’s Apostle used to accept gifts and used to give something in return.
Gifts are given during the celebration of Eid to express gratitude and give good wishes to loved ones near and far. Giving books, home made sweets and apparel are just a few among the many items that are appropriate for this most sacred holiday.
For Muslims living in the West, Eid is a wonderful time to express their identity and to share their love for their heritage with others, through uniquely Islamic gifts.
And of course, expressing modern Muslim identity in the form of cool products is our mission and our passion, here at Artizara.
Alongside our festive modest fashions inspired by Islamic heritage, we have a superb selection of hand-made one of a kind Islamic jewelry that is suitable for a wide range of people in your life, both guys and girls. Whether you are giving to your mother, grand kids, your wife, your best friend or just simply someone who is special to you, we have that perfect piece that speaks the voice of your heart, and connects you and your loved one to our rich Islamic heritage.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Mother,Wife, Grandmother – Show your appreciation by giving her one of these delicate and inspirational pieces.
” Heaven is under Mothers’ Feet” Necklace – Features the beautiful Hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W). Gorgeous sterling silver necklace hand-made by Egyptian artisans features two strands of raw amethysts or rose quartz, threaded together with silver links.
Sterling Silver and Aqeeq Keepsake “Protection” Locket Necklace – Exquisite sterling silver filigree decorates this oval keepsake box pendant, accented with a cabochon Aqeeq stone. The calligraphy on the pendant reads “Allah is the Best Protector and He is the most Merciful”.
“Beloved” Earrings – For that special someone! Striking sterling silver earrings hand made by Egyptian artisans, feature the word “Beloved”. Delicate fresh water pearls threaded together in a criss-cross design with silver links.
Father or Husband: Give your father or husband an inspirational piece of jewelry that they will treasure.
Sterling Silver Reversible “Protection” Necklace – Large, teardrop sterling silver pendant is engraved with the “Ayat-al-Kursi” (verses of protection) on one side and “Surah al-Ikhlas” (Oneness of God) on the other.
Modern Sterling Silver “Shahadah” (Faith) Cuff Bracelet – Contemporary, heirloom quality cuff bracelet crafted with polished sterling silver. Accented with a hand-engraved “Shahadah” (Declaration of Faith) for Muslims “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” .
Limited Edition Collectible Islamic Silver Coins – Minted in the USA, each coin contains 1 Troy ounce fine silver and features Islamic calligraphy with English translation.
Friends: We have pieces to suit every budget that are perfect for your special friend. Express your thankfulness and love to your friend whom you hold so dear.
“We Shall Never Part” Earrings – Sterling silver dangle earrings hand made by Egyptian artisans, feature the the inscription “La Naftariq”, meaning “We Shall Never Part”.
Hand Engraved Aqeeq and Sterling Silver “Thankfulness” Ring – Dramatic sterling silver ring features the Islamic expression of thankfulness, “Al Hamdolillah” (Praise be to Allah), engraved by hand on your choice of black onyx or brown agate (‘Aqeeq’).
Sterling Silver Contemporary “Flower” Allah Necklace – Bold sterling silver pendant features the word Allah (God) in stylized calligraphy, arranged in a circle in the petals of the flower.
“Tree of Life” Sterling Silver & Goldplate Necklace – The “Tree of life” is a metaphor for common descent and is a philosophy shared by various world ideologies and faiths.
Goldplate over Sterling Silver “Allah” Necklace (Small) – Gold-plate over Sterling Silver necklace features the word “Allah” (God) in fluid, modern calligraphy.
We received this email from a customer, that really touched our hearts. Words like this sister’s remind us to be grateful for all that Allah has blessed us with, and inspire us to keep pushing forward.
We wish only happiness for our sister and we pray Allah (SWT) grants this customer the gift of good health this Ramadan.
“Artizara, I’m sending you all this E-mail about my clothing. I really do Pendo (Love) them from the core of my soul & I really do mean this. Because, it’s what I’ve been in search of every since I’ve become Muslim. They are fashionable & beautiful. I am a Kaa (cancer) patient. I’ve been surviving since “2000” but, it has arrive again. I will be ordering again very, very soon so, look forward to my word. Thank you!!!”
We hope that Artizara products bring not just style to our customers but inspiration and the confidence to help one another grow in love and truly be who they are.This valued customer ordered a few items to reflect her modest lifestyle and stay true to her faith. We wanted to share her selection with you:
One piece that she ordered was the Natural Bamboo Hand-woven “Fair-Trade” Wrap Hijab which is a such a great lightweight and versatile piece to have in your wardrobe.
Fair trade is a social movement to bring about equality among the vastly diverse worlds of the developing and underdeveloped economies. Fair Trade relationships take account of all costs of production, both direct and indirect, including the safeguarding of natural resources and meeting future investment needs. The artistic traditions behind these products stem from indigenous cultures which value the earth’s resources and also value the discipline and wisdom inherent in these traditions.
By buying fair trade products, you help to:
* Preserve Indigenous Cultures
* Support Traditional Artisan Communities
* Invest in Community-Based Development Programs
* Safeguard Natural Resources
* Protect the Earth from Exploitation & Pollution
Another item was the “Mercy” earrings. These small, delicate earrings are hand-made by Egyptian artists and in sterling silver and turquoise. The calligraphy says “Rahma” which means “Mercy”, something that we beg Allah (SWT) for, and pray that He showers Mercy on our sister every single day!
Modern Muslim Clothing: Artizara.com Remains Creatively Modest and True to the Spirit of Ramadan
Artizara.com extends Ramadan greetings to all! The blessed month of Ramadan is a very important time in the lives of Muslims. It is a time of spiritual reawakening, reflection and renewal. It is a time of both inwardly and outwardly, striving to be your best self.
In line with the Hadith (Prophetic saying) “ Allah is Beautiful and Loves Beauty”, Artizara.com is committed to providing modest Islamic clothing that looks beautiful, feels beautiful, and reflects the spirituality and sanctity that permeate Ramadan.
Ramadan is about reaffirming one’s faith and devotion to Allah, and to the Ummah (community). It is in this exact spirit that Artizara also reaffirms its commitment to the Islamic community with their consistent offering of beautifully unique, contemporary Muslim clothing at affordable prices.
Artizara recognizes that Muslims living in the West are active parts of their communities. Through the fasts of Ramadan, they fulfill their ongoing commitments to work, to school, to family and to their communities. Each Muslim is an ambassador of Islam, and especially so, when they wear Islamic Clothing. It is Artizara’s mission to help them fulfill this obligation, and to be the finest ambassadors of their Islamic Faith.
Artizara.com is a pioneer in the field of Contemporary Islamic Clothing for Muslims living in the West. They were the first to introduce coordinated “hijabs” (head scarves) with all of their elegant, modest tunic tops, saving the well-dressed Muslimah the hassle of finding the perfect scarf to go with every outfit.
Allowing for a creative expression of Muslim identity and providing fabulously unique ideas for Islamic gift-giving for Eid and other special occasions, Artizara.com introduced its range of extraordinary hand made sterling silver jewelry, contemporary in design yet hand-crafted following centuries’ old jewelry making traditions. The collection includes necklaces, bracelets, rings and limited edition collectible silver medallions, featuring inspirational Quranic engravings.
Artizara was also the first to introduce Islamic Caftans, Modest Long Dresses and Islamic Formal Wear. Recognizing that western mainstream stores did not provide body covering options in formal wear and many Muslimahs were forced to wear traditional ethnic clothing to formal occasions at work or school, Artizara introduced a range of exquisite Modest Long Dresses and Islamic caftans, inspired by the richness of Islamic art and heritage, and finished with coordinating “hijabs” which are included with every style.
Many Artizara pieces are designed to go from work or school, to the mosque, or to the evening Iftar invite with friends and family. The Heba long hand-spun cotton tunic, for example, is an excellent example: cool, smooth cotton, modest fit, and neutral colors that coordinate with most bottoms – and, best of all, there is a designed to match hijab so that the look is completely put together. If you want to get a little more formal, consider the Elsie chiffon ruffle tunic, a lightweight, double-layer shirt-dress with beautiful metallic crochet detailing. The Elsie is a unique piece sedate enough for the month of Ramadan, but it can also feature prominently in a Muslim woman’s regular everyday wardrobe.
The next time you are shopping for Muslim clothing or Islamic gifts, consider Artizara.com. They have consistently proven their commitment to faith-affirming, modest Islamic ideals, expressed in beautiful Muslim clothing that is unlike anything available at other mainstream or online stores, and in a risk free shopping experience that will delight you with its simplicity.
In a world filled with too many unsuitable clothing choices, Artizara makes sure that beauty, comfort, and Islamic values can coexist harmoniously, and stands out as the perfect Islamic clothing choice for the socially conscious Muslim woman, who is the most wonderful ambassador of her faith.
I came across this article on islamicity.com and I found it to be very interesting and useful. It was written by Jennifer Kabir on 8/11/09. Would love to hear reader’s comments!
As a Muslim woman who wears hijab are you happy with how you look? Does your clothing match your personality and lifestyle? Perhaps you would like to improve your look but don’t know where to begin. Maybe you’re not sure what changes you need to make in order to feel better about your image.
Like many women who have reverted to Islam, I found myself faced with the task of changing my wardrobe. For me, it was a welcomed change, as my new modest clothing and way of presenting myself to the world honored my Creator and increased my self love and value that I put on my spirit and physical being. This modest essence of the Muslim woman is our eternal style and one I have been proud to adopt.
Determined to emulate the height of modesty, I parted with anything whatsoever that might denote frivolity or unwanted attention. I proudly limited my few pieces to full abayas, jilbabs, and square white hijabs. This decision had its value in keeping with my transition in dressing Islamicaly.
However, as the years progressed I began to feel stifled by my clothing and the discomfort caused by this inner conflict. I was not feeling comfortable in my skin and could not define what the issue was. What was it that was making me so miserable?
In order to solve this puzzle I had to retrace my steps. Growing up among artists and creative energies it had always been in my nature to express myself through patterns, textures and designs. Yet, when I looked in my closet, I had limited myself to solid white hijabs and black gowns.
I grew up with beach sand beneath my toes and running barefoot along the hot sidewalks of Southern California, yet every hijab I owned was heavy opaque polyester that I found to be too hot for my liking. I was going against my own grain and could not see it.
Color had always been a vital part of my life. My Mother and Grand Mother were both water color artists and I grew up posing for paintings and learning to frame artwork. Prior to my reversion I had worked as a Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist. Yet, when I discovered Islam I had not allowed myself any artistic expression.
Rediscovering my love of art and color have restored my sense of personal satisfaction. Incorporating these elements into my dress have allowed me the unique expression I was missing and have brought me a personal style that is genuine and natural for me. I am once again happy with my appearance- now am thrilled.
I may have traded in my modesty for today’s version of fashion with the faulty belief that somehow my hijab was restricting my personal expression. Realizing that many women fall into this thinking and some even mistakenly remove their hijab fueled me to write this piece.
Below are some elements of creative style that you can work with to ask yourself the important questions about who you are and what that expression looks like for you.
Simplicity, functionality, great fabrics, and a touch of personal style are the defining points of a successful wardrobe when it comes to dressing modestly and fashionably. When we think of fashion we tend to envision airbrushed models on the cover of Vogue wearing the latest trends and making it look effortless.
Feeling great about your appearance and pulling your own unique look together really can be that easy. Think of the following as classic fashion advice with an Islamic twist!
The ten essentials
Your hijab: Your headscarf is a big part of your wardrobe yet contrary to what we have been taught it does not necessarily have to be the defining element of your style. Think of hijab as an accessory to your overall look rather than the vocal point of your dress and see what possibilities might emerge. It should compliment you and be functional for daily living. Feeling overpowered by hijab is a factor that has lead many women to remove their veil. Finding balance is key.
The art of wearing hijab: Do not-under any circumstances pin your hijab at your chin and merely leave the ends of the scarf hanging over your bosom. This style of hijab does not work for anyone and can ruin even the most elegant of ensembles. Instead tuck the ends into your clothing or wrap them around to the back of your scarf. If extra coverage is the issue simply fan the ends of the scarf around your chest and pin at the shoulder with a stylish broach. Often more voluptuous women may try to wear an extra large scarf the same way some women would throw on an oversized sweater thinking it will camouflage problem areas. Instead of flattering this tends to look frumpy and in some cases can give the impression that you don’t care about your appearance.
Hijab colors, patterns, and textures: Some women look radiant in loud floral patterns while others of us end up looking outdated and dowdy. Another hard style to wear are hijabs with eyelet stitching at the hemline and corners. In some cases, these may only be appropriate for young ladies who are practicing hijab. I know hijabees who look elegant and fabulous in dark or all black hijabs that would appear depressing and heavy on others. Pass on unbreathable materials-even in the winter, and opt for hijabs with a touch of flair instead of overdone beading and sparkle.
Hijab fabrics: If you are still clinging to your polyester hijabs because you believe only those heavy, solid fabrics can give you full coverage then consider the following. Polyester, a completely man made fabric is widely sold in most Islamic clothing stores. For this reason, many women purchase them, not realizing what a draw back they may be. When it comes to your hijab you want to be on the lookout for materials that breathe such as rayon, linen, cotton, and even silk. While polyester hijabs may be more affordable-other fabrics such as rayon and linen shaylas are available at outlets such as TJ Maxx and Marshals. The scarf should be just heavy enough to give it some body and shape but not so heavy that it weighs you down.
The size of your hijab: The length and width of your scarf make a huge impact on how you look. A petite woman might swim in the same scarf that would flatter a statuesque woman. So where should your hijab hit you when wearing it? As a general rule the sides of your hijab should gracefully sit at the base of your shoulders while leaving some extra material to maneuver around your bosom. Petite women often have this dilemma. It’s easy to end up with a scarf that covers you down to your waist. This is overpowering and should only be worn this way if you want your hijab to be the vocal point of your look. There’s an exception to every rule and I have seen women who can successfully don a waist length hijab but not too many Muslimahs are going to feel their level best in that style unless they can pull if off.
Your clothing: A defining feature of a Muslim women’s style is that the clothing tends to be looser and avoids anything revealing in nature. However, this does not mean our clothes should be so baggy that there is no fit and shape to them. You want pieces that you can feel confident wearing and that will flatter you. Think outside of the box and take a look at classic pieces that can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. For example, a long dark pencil skirt looks beautiful and is a highly versatile piece. Pair one with a low wedge sandal for the summer or a boot for the winter. Long and flowing prairie skirts are great year round. Don’t limit yourself to one style.
Rediscovering your style: Sometimes we reach an impasse and we don’t know what we like. For some women, we are so busy taking care of everything outside ourselves that as time passes we forget what it feels like to take time for ourselves. Or it may feel like too much work to invest so much time into our appearance. I always advise women to visit a mall and check out the accessory section to break the ice. Many times we tend to dismiss something that appeals to us because we assume it’s too risky, won’t fit, or too expensive. Yet, a piece of costume jewelry seems more accessible. You might find yourself attracted to designs, colors, shapes, and elements of style that surprise you.
Accessories are a must: A flower pin, a rhinestone broach, a stack of bangles, a big chunky ring, a stylish bag, and a long necklace not to be worn all at once but still essential elements of style that can be reached for to celebrate any mood or occasion. Having a few different pieces to work with keeps your options open and let’s you explore your own fashion sense without making a long term commitment. Want to feel more demure? Reach for innocent pearls. Maybe you’re in a daring mood, the perfect time to sparkle!
Shoes, shoes, shoes: Every girl loves a good pair of shoes. Even Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had the fabled red ruby slippers that drove the Wicked Witch mad with envy. The right shoe can compliment and set the tone of your appearance. A shoe should be practical to fit your lifestyle and I advise women to keep at least four different pairs in her wardrobe. These include a simple pair of flats, a summer sandal, dress shoes with a heel no higher than 3 inches, and casual loafers or Mary Jane’s. For cold climates a pair of ankle of knee length boots in a classic style are timeless. Avoid heavy or chunky shoes as they are hard on the feet and less feminine. The style will depend on your personal taste and your specific needs. A woman who works outside her home where she meets with clients on a regular basis might opt for a dressier shoe while a full time Mother may want something more casual and on the go.
Your abaya: I think it’s essential that a Muslim woman who attends the mosque regularly for Jummah have at least one full length abaya she can pull on over her clothing and just go. There are times when an outer garment such as an abaya is absolutely necessary and going to the masjid is one of those occasions. Jean, linen, and cotton jackets may be worn as outer garments but nothing compares to the abaya when frequenting the House of Allah.
Insha’Allah, these ten essentials will spur some inspiration for you and encourage you to retrace your own steps towards a more authentic you.
As we make our way into the fall season, I am sure you start to wonder what type of trends are going to be set and how you will be able to incorporate these pieces into your everyday wardrobe. Here are a few tips and sneak peeks at the up coming season:
Capes, Capelets and Ponchos: These key pieces are truly making a come-back this year on the runway. There are various ways to wear these and still keep the modest look. The most popular look is to wear long sleeved tops or dresses underneath. This adds layers to your look and creates a more refined appearance.
High Neckline: At almost every fashion show this season, high necklines seemed to be the choice of style. High mandarin collars and boat neck styles which we all know and love will be back with more embroidery and culture inspired motifs to add. These types of tops make for great layering pieces which can be worn fall and spring.
Sheer Fabrics: This trend has been carried over from 2008 to 2009 and 2010! With this type of fabric, whether it be silk or chiffon, wearing this in a drapy style adds the feminine touch and timeless elegance.
Hats: Berets are going to be seen as the main trend this season. Coming in all sorts of sizes and colors, this type of hat is perfect for anyone wanting to cover their hair. There is enough fabric where the hair can be tucked up inside and still look adorable and fashionable. There are way to dress up a beret by simply adding a baroche or feather detail for that touch of femininity. Scarves are being transitioned into fall and have more then one way to wear them. It seems as though Audrey Hepburn is still making an impact when it comes to fashion and wearing a scarf tied underneath your chin is something that will be seen for fall.
We would love to hear your feedback and find out what you are expecting this fall and holiday season. Your great ideas will be incorporated into Artizara designs for the fall, Ramadan and Eid season!
Have a wonderful week,
Here is a heartwarming email we received from a sister who browsed our site. Comments like these keep us going, keep us energized and remind us why we are in business.
Thank you Vivian from everyone at Team Artizara… You made our day!
I want to personally thank you all for offering such beautiful products that still honor the principles of modesty. I am currently studying the Muslim faith and Islam and will probably convert soon. One of my concerns was losing my identity, femininity and sense of style by wearing modest clothing and a hijab. Your site proves that one can be modest, stylish AND feminine. I look forward to shopping with you all soon! Again…THANK YOU!!!
May your success be multiplied beyond measure!
Came across this really interesting piece by Fatemeh Fakhraie, July 7, 2009, on altmuslimah.com. Welcome our reader’s comments!
While the defense of the rights of Muslim women from all faiths and from all corners of the globe is laudable, it’s important to call non-Muslims out on their privileges and prejudices about Muslim women’s lives and manifestations of faith, and the arrogance in how they speak about and interact with Muslim women.
I recently wrote a piece for Double X in which I highlighted the fact that many non-Muslim feminists do not understand Muslim women or Muslim feminists accurately. Last year, I wrote “An Open Letter to White, Non-Muslim Feminists” for Muslimnista, which was a more acerbic version of the Double X piece:
“I notice a lot of condescension and arrogance when you talk to us or about us. Let me be clear: you do not know more about us than we know about ourselves, our religion, our cultures, our families, or the forces that shape our lives. You do not know what’s best for us more than we do.”
The letter was an unburdening. Yes, I wrote it while angry, after hearing yet another non-Muslim person believe that they held the key to female Muslim liberation because of the summer they spent in Dubai or the Muslim friend they had in college. But while my anger may have exposed readers to a rawer expression of my beliefs, I still stand by what I wrote, I still feel my anger is and was valid, and I still feel that it’s important to call non-Muslims out on their privileges and prejudices about Muslim women’s lives and manifestations of faith, and the arrogance in how they speak about and interact with Muslim women.
The recent statements on Aasiya Hassan’s murder from NOW director Marcia Pappas highlight what I’m talking about. Despite the fact that Aasiya’s murder was a cut-and-dried crime of domestic-violence, Pappas insisted on racializing it and “Islamocizing” it by calling it a “terroristic version of an honor killing”. Her continued support for her statements, in the face of disagreement and point-by-point dismantling of her views by Muslims, Muslim and non-Muslim domestic violence workers, and other feminists, personifies the arrogance and prejudice my letter aimed to call out. Pappas, through her statements and actions, sends the message, “This is what I think of Aasiya. This is what I think of Muslims and Muslim women, no matter how many people prove me wrong.”
When I published my Double X piece, which was admittedly more measured, it received a fairly receptive response. Though I know change is more often generational than radical, I believe more people are willing to listen to strategies for change in the dialogue between non-Muslim and Muslim women.
So I think it’s time to revisit the underlying arguments my letter implied but didn’t flesh out.
My difficulty with Pappas and those like her (whatever gender, color, or creed) is made up of several complex issues:
1. Arrogance and ethnocentrism
The arrogant-but-sometimes-well-meaning “I know what’s best for you” attitude that flies in the face of respect for others’ lifestyles, worldviews, histories, and differences, and ignores or disrespects Muslim women’s personal agency. This is a major barrier and has been dubbed neo-colonialism for a good reason. Decades ago (even centuries), when the British colonized India, Egypt, Algeria, and other regions, the “I know what’s best for you” attitude was what enabled them to oppress men and women (Muslim and others) in these regions.
The idea that another person outside a Muslim woman’s communities and situations knows better about the issues she faces as a Muslim woman or as a woman of a certain ethnicity is impossible. While someone from outside my communities can offer an outsider’s perspective, s/he cannot understand my issues authoritatively enough to know them better than I. And, in constructing strategies for change, assuming someone else’s way (“Western” or secular or “progressive”) is better often ignores the fact that the secular way may not fit into a Muslim woman’s life, or a certain Western feminist model may not offer a Muslim woman constructive way to demand for the changing of laws that hurt her and her family. Refusing to believe that working within an Islamic or cultural framework can help me achieve the liberation I’m looking for isn’t fair to me—this isn’t cultural relativism, this is taking into account different forces that shape and have shaped a Muslim woman’s circumstances, and the different issues that she faces.
Furthermore, speaking for me when I did not ask you to actually takes my voice away. It is oppression just the same when a feminists does it as when, for example, a man speaks for a woman without her consent.
Often in the form of racialized Islamophobia and sexism. The refusal to listen to me or believe me when I tell you that Islam has given me wonderful things. Painting a Muslim woman’s issues as religious when they may really involve class, or patriarchal manifestations in her culture, or race. Demonizing my religion or culture in order to paint me as a victim that must be released from both of these things, no matter how much I love them or how they have positively shaped me.
3. Pity and victim construction
Specifically, the constant victim narrative that Muslim women are forced into. Assuming I am brainwashed because I identify as a Muslim, assuming every woman who wears a headscarf didn’t choose to.
Looking at a woman who involuntarily underwent female genital cutting as a victim does not empower that woman; it is often demeaning because it assumes that she can never be more than what happened to her. Pitying her because of what happened to her doesn’t empower her, either.
Looking at a woman who escaped an abusive marriage as a victim of her religion does not empower that woman. Not only does it mischaracterize the situation (it was her husband who abused her, not Islam), but also it doesn’t get her on the road to rebuilding her life.
Looking at an Iraqi woman as a victim ignores the agency she may exercise; constructing her only as a victim of war erases all her individual personality traits, her memories, and her humanity, leaving her to be nothing but part of a wretched aftermath. No human should be a wretched aftermath.
Pity doesn’t help anyone. And pitying me is just another type of oppression—just another way to construct yourself as better than I.
4. Using the wrong tools to measure liberation
Liberation is not a cookie-cutter deal. It looks different to every single woman in the world, and Muslim women are no different. There are Muslim women for whom liberation looks like a miniskirt, or a headscarf, or a university degree, or a well-paying job, or a husband, or a house, or debt wiped clean, or a divorce, or a reliable source of clean water, or opportunities for her children, or different combinations of these, etc. Forcing one model of liberation on anyone isn’t liberating; it’s just as oppressive as other paternalist or patriarchal forces in a Muslim woman’s life.
The best example of this is clothing, and the symbolizing of clothing as liberation, oftentimes equating choice of clothing with liberation. While I personally believe that women should be able to wear what they themselves want and face no cultural, religious, or other repercussions for it, assuming that changing clothing brings liberation is misguided. Clothing is a symbol of repression for a reason: it is not the cloth itself that oppresses, but the complex legal, social, and economic issues that enforce the cloth. Campaigning for Afghan women to have the right to remove their burqas will not change the issues that stand in their way and enforce a dress code.
Now a framework of “Don’ts” has been established, let’s move on to the “Dos”. Strategies for change:
1. Changing arrogance and co-option of voice
If I ask you to speak for me because I am unable to speak for myself, make sure you’re doing it right: keep my concerns in mind, keep my circumstances in mind, and reflect that. Don’t reflect what you think is best for me.
If a Muslim woman doesn’t ask you to be her voice or speak for her, don’t. If you wish to help a Muslim woman you feel is voiceless, help her get a voice. Never assume you have the right to speak on someone else’s behalf.
2. Changing prejudice
Recognize that I might not view Islam or my culture the same way as you do. Don’t accept information about Islam from unqualified sources, especially those who don’t have my best interests in mind. Realize that my Islam will be different from others’. Don’t demonize my faith or my culture or the men in my life, no matter what I say about them, no matter how bad my experiences have been or how I complain: they are my experiences to sort out, and no one else’s. Keep in mind that patriarchy is a worldwide phenomenon, and it will manifest itself differently for me than it will for others. I may experience very patriarchal forms of Islam, while my sister may not.
3. Do not pity me or construct me as a victim
Recognize that no matter what has happened to me, good or bad, I am a person who is more than my labels or experiences.
4. Let Muslim women define liberation for themselves
Help only if I ask for it. By help, I do not mean co-opting my liberation and planning it out for me; I mean helping me get where I want to go, wherever that is. If a Muslim woman wants to leave an abusive relationship, don’t tell her that marriage in Islam is (insert your opinion here), help her find a divorce lawyer and safe shelter.
Being an ally is the same as being a true friend: respecting my wishes, even if you may want something different for me; helping me when I need it, without thinking me helpless; and viewing me as an entire person.
(Photo: Friends for Peace)
Fatemeh Fakhraie is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah