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A Shade Less - Not Fair and Lovely

I remember when my second daughter was born with darker skin color than the rest of the family and I was made to feel as a mother that she was somehow less than my other daughter, less lucky, less beautiful, less.

As if she didn’t deserve to wear certain colors, and I shouldn’t rejoice in her adorableness, just because Allah had chosen for her skin color to be a shade between chocolate and caramel, instead of vanilla.

I am not ashamed of loving her a wee bit extra, she reminds me of myself. Earthy.

I have always emphasized inner beauty, and never thought I would have to teach a daughter of mine the ‘value’ of outer beauty but I have to with her. I have to remind her that dark skin is beautiful, just as lovely to behold as light skin. This is how Allah the Mussawir chose to color her.

I don’t want her to ever feel like she has to hold back and not follow her dreams because she is made to feel less.

She is a beautiful little girl, effervescent, funny and filled with love, with a propinquity towards the dramatic. Its only on days that she is made to feel less that she visibly withers. On days when a new family will meet us and say in front of her “My! Your other three look alike and she is so …. different”.

After I posted this on my Facebook page, I received many messages of people sharing their own stories, but the most depressing one was from a young sister who was told repeatedly by her own mother that she would never get married because of the color of her skin. Having to be consistently rejected by potential suitors, because ‘rang kam hai’ (trans: her color is less). That term doesn’t even make sense to me shouldn’t it be your color is more, but I digress.

I have a friend who is a make up artist. She recently had a client with dark skin walk out on her without paying because she didn’t make her light enough for her wedding day. I felt sorry for the client- imagine being raised with such self loathing that you can’t bear your own skin color. That on the biggest day of your life, the day of your wedding, you want to be painted several shades lighter to feel worthy enough to be your husband’s bride.

The micro-aggressions pile up. “If she is dark, she is dark, it’s not like I am lying,” said a relative when I asked her not to harp on my daughter’s skin color.

“Micheal Jackson,” teased a cousin as she tans easily in the summer and loses it in the winter. My issue wasn’t with her being called dark, but with the comparisons, the anti-Black innuendos, and the constant reminders of her skin color so much so that I would see her comparing her arms with her brothers, with her sister.  It became a topic in my house, in my house.

The negative effects of skin color bias were leading to self-hate.

Home remedies were suggested the day she was born. You would think that we live in the West where the typical social advantages of light skin would be a non issue but no, it is just as much a problem here.  I have had young women I know giving up on marrying anyone from their own ethnicity and have turned to non-South Asian men who appreciate their skin color. A stunning sister I know, sick of being rejected, is dating a person of another faith who thinks she is God’s gift to him.

The colorism has become a part of the language. In Urdu and Hindi, the words for light skin are saaf rang meaning clean/pure whereas dark skin to referred to as maylawhich translates into dirty. Light skin is so valued that it is the first ‘quality’ sought in a woman. Who set this standard?

Remnants of the Raj…

“Kali ho jao gi” You will turn black, like it is a something bad, is something every South Asian women hears. I am sure there are other communities who deal with the exact same issue. Don’t go out in the sun, you will get dark.

I just attended a mental health forum where the counselor said that not enough sun exposure can cause depression. She urged everyone to sit outside for a good twenty minutes every day, especially if you have dark skin.

Imagine that.

My daughter and I, we often read the Shamail Muhammadiyah together.

Regarding the Prophet Muhammad , Al-Tirmidhi, in his Jami’ al-Sahih (VI:69 no. 1754), reports on the authority of  Anas b. Malik :

The Messenger of Allah was of medium stature, neither tall nor short, [with] a beautiful, brown-complexioned body (hasan al-jism asmar al-lawn). His hair was neither curly nor completely straight and when he walked he leant forward.

There are many other narrations of RasulAllah’s  being abyad[1]. There is also much discussion on the meaning of asmar and abyad in Arabic [2] and on the color of the Prophet’s  blessed skin, but all I know is that reading this puts a smile on her face.

  1. Humayd said, he heard Anas saying:
    “And he was white (abyad), his whiteness leaning to be tan (bayaduhu ilas-sumrah).” (Dala’il al-Nubuwah 1/204)

2.Imam Shāms al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh al-Dhahabī (d. 1348), in his Siyar a’lām al-nubalā’

إِنَّ العَرَبَ إِذَا قَالَتْ: فُلاَنٌ أَبْيَضُ، فَإِنَّهُمْ يُرِيْدُوْنَ الحِنْطِيَّ اللَّوْنِ بِحِلْيَةٍ سَوْدَاءَ، فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي لَوْنِ أَهْلِ الهِنْدِ، قَالُوا: أَسْمَرُ، وَآدَمُ، وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي سَوَادِ التِّكْرُوْرِ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ وَكَذَا كُلُّ مَنْ غَلَبَ عَلَيْهِ السَّوَادُ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ أَوْ شَدِيْدُ الأُدْمَةِ

“When Arabs say; So and so is ‘abyad’, they mean a wheatish complexion with slight darkness (hintiy al-lawn bi-hilyatin sawda). And if it is the complexion the People of India they say, ‘asmar’ and ‘adam’. And if it is of Toucouleur Negroes (sawad al-Takrur) they say ‘aswad’ and likewise everyone whose complexion is overwhelmingly black; they call, ‘aswad’ or ‘shadid-ul-udmah’.” (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubula 1/39 & 3/448, Darul Hadith, Cairo 2006)

Source article: http://muslimmatters.org/2014/05/07/shade-less-not-fair-lovely/

2 months ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

Modesty in Modern Muslim Beauty

By Jennifer Dawson

Preparing for a date can end up being a stress inducing activity most of the time. Fixing up hair and makeup alone takes up nearly forty minutes of a woman's time on an average day. As new trends in fashion continue to pop up, it can seem overwhelming trying to maintain a consistent style and routine, while still being current with today’s fashion. Here are a few ways to enhance your beauty for contemporary styles, while remaining true to the fashion that makes Muslim culture one of the most beautiful.

Hijab and Fashion

Dating can be intimidating, and our own insecurities can creep up, preventing us from putting ourselves out there to meet someone special. But those fears can be overcome. We should take pride in the modesty of our culture and commitment to Allah, especially with how we wear our hijabs. It’s fine to cut loose and outfit your hijab in a way that expresses both your beauty and inner devotion. Muslim fashion continues to develop side by side with contemporary fashion, letting diverse appearance flourish within modern fashion.

Styles such as the “casual chic”, which involve letting both sides of your hijab hang loose over both shoulders, are great for pulling off an effortless look that emphasizes your natural elegance and modesty. As long as you stay true to the core principles of modesty found in the Quran, then the elegance of your fashion sense will also shine through.

Beauty in Makeup

Make-up is the most powerful way for a Muslim woman to express her beauty while staying true to her faith. Whether with or without a hijab, cosmetics offer the chance for women to emphasis the facial qualities that make them beautiful. Women like Asha Hussein are excellent examples of how beauty conventions of both contemporary culture and Muslim tradition can fuse to create a captivating and popular look. Taking the time to learn eye makeup application and trends, such as having bold colors or strong brows, can be completely complimentary to your visual appearance and upstand the Muslim code of Modesty.

Embrace Muslim Modernity

Modern culture is more than prepared for accommodating the belief that supports the styles that support and validate Muslim cultural practices. The fashion world is embracing the empowering virtue to be found in Muslim modesty. Whether through makeup or clothing, the diversity and energy put into your wardrobe should be expressed with pride and confidence. The principles found in our faith are wonderful and should be recognized as such. Claim your style as your own and embrace the beautiful principles that enchant your dress and appearance.

The world around us continues to diversify in ways that are supportive towards the beliefs and attire of our faith. There’s no need to place unnecessary restraint on your wardrobe, as long as you adhere to the principles of modesty which already come so naturally us Muslim women. Trust in your faith and your own uncompromising beauty.

2 days ago

Inspiration for Muslims Aged 50 And Above

Finding Love After Divorce

By Jennifer Dawson

‘Grey divorce’  has come to be a catchphrase of the millennium, largely because in contrast to general divorce rates (which are declining), the divorce rate among people over 50 is on the rise. Longer life expectancies mean that those who are in their 50s or even 60s can look forward to many decades ahead of a healthy and happy life and for many, this is a quest they would not like to undertake in their current situation.

As noted in a study by Z. Mohamed, Muslim divorce rates, particularly in Western countries, have been on the rise in recent years, with a dramatic increase in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia.

Divorce can be liberating but also bring fear and anxiety. If you have been through a divorce and you are fearful about what the future holds, find inspiration in the Quran and consider online dating as a way to ensure those you date have the same life values as you. When you are ready, know that you can find love once again online and begin a new path in life.

Divorce Involves Going through Many Changes

Divorce is one of the highest entries on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale. In a way, it involves saying goodbye to many things – including (in some cases) one’s home, extended family and social circle. The Elisabeth Kubler-Ross model on the different stages of loss are also applicable to divorce. You may have to go through many stages – including sadness, anger, and regret, before you are ready to move on.

Cuando quieras ponerte triste,sonrie,aunque sea con lágrimas en los ojos.
Photo by Luis Galvez / Unsplash

You will probably know you are ready when you feel that you need to be out and socialize. Positive ideas may pop in your head, such as the thought that you are young and have retired or have free time on your hands, you would love to try out a new hobby or sport, or you feel like dressing up in your finest garb and feeling appreciated as a man or woman once again. Check out what other singles are up to on muzmatch; what starts out as a friendship could develop into something very special.

Why the Internet?

Online dating has been a big boom for singles who may not have a huge social circle. Muslim men and women who do work and have a good professional network may not necessarily have a wide social one. This is especially true if most of your friends are couples that you only saw when you went out with your ex. As noted by the BBC, online dating is big, especially among Western Muslims.

In Islam, marriage is considered equal to half your religion. It holds great importance, so it is important to make the right decision. Online dating allows you to ‘test the waters’ beforehand, so to speak. For instance, if you are a Muslim woman with a firm believe in feminism, you can ensure the people you date think along the same lines. Because devout Muslims of a mature age may be reticent to go to bars and other establishments were others enjoy meeting,

online dating gives them the safety, choice, and discretion that is unique in the dating sphere.

Inspiration from Scripture

You are indeed never too old to love or be loved. Muslim scripture espouses the importance of love and marriage in many passages.

“We not see for those who love one another anything like marriage,”

says Sunan Ibn Majah 1847, while Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1322 notes: “When you love someone, you become infatuated like a child.” These and other words may inspire you to experience the beauty of love and marriage once again.

If you are a Muslim who is aged 50+ and who has just been divorced, you certainly are not alone. So-called ‘gray divorce’ is rising in numbers the world over, but that does not mean you need to be lonely.

Internet dating is booming for Muslims, especially those who don’t want to have to seek love in clubs and other establishments that can seem more about casual encounters than long-lasting ones. If you’ve never been online, sign up on muzmatch and go into it with a view to simply meet others. In time, friendships can unexpectedly bloom and you may find the love of your life.

21 days ago

muzmatch x My Big Fat Halal Blog

Hey everyone, it’s Ayesha from My Big Fat Halal Blog (MBFHB)! MBFHB is one of the UK’s biggest halal food platforms where I share halal restaurant reviews, recipes and travel guides! You can find out more about what I do on my website or Instagram.

Today, I’m collaborating with muzmatch to share some of my top Ramadan recipes. We hope you try them out and we would love to see any of your recreations.

DATE SUHOOR SMOOTHIE BOWL:

Here’s a simple recipe for this delicious, filling smoothie bowl packed with nutritious dates… the only dates you should be having this Ramadan! ;)

Suhoor Smoothie Bowl

INGREDIENTS

1 banana, plus extra slices to garnish

5 pitted medjool dates, plus extra, chopped, to garnish

250ml semi-skimmed milk

2 tsp cocoa powder

1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ground nuts, to decorate

METHOD

Simply put all the ingredients in a blender, and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl, over ice, if you like, then arrange the nuts, extra banana and dates over the top to serve.

POTATO CUTLETS:

Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be Ramadan without fried treats! Below is a recipe for my spicy, moreish potato cutlets.  They’re always a hit with everyone!

Potato Cutlets

INGREDIENTS

750g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

11⁄2 tbsp garam masala

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp ground coriander

Handful of coriander, roughly chopped

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

60g breadcrumbs

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Chutney/spicy salsa, to serve

METHOD

1.Put the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 18-20 mins, until tender. Drain and set aside for 15-20 mins, until cool enough to handle.

2. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, ground coriander and fresh coriander to the potatoes. Season, then mash until smooth.

3. Wet your hands, then shape the mixture into 10 round patties, about 1cm thick.

4. Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs onto separate plates, then dip each patty first in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs to coat.

5. Heat the oil to medium-high, then fry the patties in batches for 2-3 mins on each side, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with a chutney/ spicy salsa for dipping.

UM ALI:

A feast would not be complete without dessert! Try out this delicious Egyptian bread pudding known as Um Ali. It’s made with croissants, nuts and condensed milk and it’s absolutely delicious!

Um Ali

INGREDIENTS

850ml semi-skimmed milk

1⁄2 x 397g can condensed milk

1⁄2 tsp ground cardamom

1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to serve

1 tsp vanilla extract

100ml double cream

1 tsp unsalted butter

4 all butter croissants, roughly torn

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 tbsp flaked almonds

2 tbsp unsalted pistachios, chopped

2 tbsp seedless raisins

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4.

2. Stir the milk, condensed milk, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla extract together in a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2mins, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and carefully bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat.

3. Using the butter, grease a round baking dish, roughly 22cm in diameter and 5cm deep, and cover the base with half the croissant pieces.

4. Sprinkle over half each of the coconut, almonds, pistachios and raisins, then pour over the milk mixture.

5. Top with the remaining croissants, nuts and raisins, plus an extra pinch of cinnamon.

6. Bake in the oven for 20-25mins until golden and bubbling, then leave to stand for 10 mins before serving.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and will try them out! You can find more of my recipes at mybigfathalalblog.com.

29 days ago