more than hijab

Multi-culture, multi-faith, multi-inspired


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Lived in the Middle East for 4 years but I have never…….

IMG-20130115-00123Had a local friend. Is this normal? Apparently so. Friends who I gave spoken to have said the same. And yet, I feel a little disappointed.
I have lived and loved in the this country for 4 years and there is still so much I don’t know. A whole culture still relatively undiscovered. The habits significant to this nationality are still unknown to me.
Us long term Dubai residents may assume we “know” this culture but what is this assumption based on? Brief conversations in government offices? Short transactions in stores or restaurants? Flashes of sky high heels and vibrantly painted nails in shopping malls? How many of us ever took the time to learn about the nationals of this country culturally? Instead of merely visually?
In a country where pretty much all and any nationalities have been given a chance to make a name for themselves, and where you can bump into at least 15 nationalities in any given day, why are we so detached from the people who actually belong here?
Food for thought……more next time.
Noora xx


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Feeling bad about feeling bad

One of the things I’ve noticed since becoming a Muslim is that I now feel reluctant to say so if I am feeling a little down or just plain fed up. Why do I feel more reluctant now than I did before? I put it down to the expectation upon us as women – we feel perhaps that it’s wrong to complain about what Allah has given to us, and yet we are still human so why can’t we say so? Perhaps there is a lack of compassion in this regard in the community, or it is considered ungrateful to complain when there are others in worse situations.

Either way, I feel it’s important that I don’t lose myself – in my religion or in my family – so I’m putting it out there……today I feel horrible! My head hurts, my husband snored all through the night, I have a horrible rash on my legs and my unborn child is raging havoc on my body!!!!!

There. I feel much better. InshAllah things will improve. Make dua for me sisters. JAK, Noora xx

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Me (a mother to be insha Allah), my mother, and my mixed feelings on Mother’s Day

I loved this piece, as a mother to be myself. Beautiful words, Noora x

Between Sisters, SVP!

Anas (radi allahu anhu) reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu aleihu wassalam) said, “Verily, Heaven lies under the feet of our mother.”

mom and daugter

Assalamu aleikum dear bloggers,

For Muslims and non-Muslims that celebrate Mother’s day, I hope I don’t bust your bubble with this post about the upcoming and special event for you that is Mother’s Day. Everyone is free to do what they want but this is my opinion and no hard feelings or backbiting please ;).

How did this hallmark event start? Well, a woman by the name of Anna Reeves Jarvis decided to honor her mother after she died in 1905. It finally became an American holiday in 1908 after her many attempts to get to that result.

From this point on, it spread slowly throughout the world, and it is celebrated almost everywhere today.

The Sunnah tells us this below on mothers:

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said:…

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Its OK not to be OK – what I learnt from Maya Angelou

I read “Why the caged bird sings” at a very young age, probably around 13 years old. I remember the extreme range of emotions that I felt while reading it; a lot of which I didn’t fully understand given its graphic content. But I do remember the feeling of amazement – how had she managed to survive those things and still be able to write about it? 
As with most teenagers, I thought that i had it the worst, that my Mum was the strictest, that I had the biggest problems. This didn’t change after I finished reading Maya Angelous book, but it did put things in perspective for me and it did teach me one fundamental lesson – its OK not to be OK, and its OK to talk about it.

Thank you Maya Angelou xx


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Why aren’t we nicer? Social Media Blues…..

I recently came across an interesting conversation on a Dubai Forum website. The poster had asked what the guidelines regarding children (non-Muslim) are in Dubai in Ramadan as this would be her first time back in Dubai after a 10 year absence. This is a simple enough question, and a fairly respectful one at that, so despite these forums being well known as the hunting ground for a certain type of lady who take pleasure in arguing over the smallest comment….you would think that the replies would be polite and constructive to help the poster as she tried to integrate into life here. 

Wrong. As  I scrolled down the comments in which many regular posters veered off into their own personal arguments or even made derogatory comments towards the poster, I felt saddened that these people were representing the Muslim community here. Of course, this is not to say that  these are symbolic of the community as a whole, because Alhamdulilah we have a wealth of supportive and informative groups here, but the fact that the negative traits which we strive to control,  were being poured out on a public forum was shocking and I started to think – why aren’t we nicer to each other? What drives us, as women and as sisters in faith, to bring each other down in such an aggressive way?

We are well aware that there are stereotypes about our religion. So instead of proving those misconceptions wrong – by showing that we are kind, generous, support and respectful people as we have been taught to be- why do some of us seem to take pleasure in criticizing  and demeaning other? As Muslims, surely this goes against the very foundation of our religion.

“The believer does not slander, curse, or speak in an obscene or foul manner” (Al-Tirmidhi)

I’m sure everyone has also witnessed the onslaught of abuse that vloggers and posters receive on social media platforms as well – youtubers in particular seem to get the brunt of it. My question is – if we don’t like what we see/read/hear, then why can’t we simply ignore it? Regardless of whether or not we agree with what is being posted, being different is what makes the world interesting. 

Of course, its human nature to gossip and we all know that spreading bad news is far more interesting than spreading good news – but even if this is a natural human trait, we are still expected to overcome and control this.

Finally, who has the time to abuse people negatively? Surely this time would be better spent on any other activity – be it career, family, Ilm or charity. 

“And why did you not, when you heard it, say – “It is not right to speak of this: Glory to God! This is a most serious slander!” (24:16)

Make Dua and keep hope – Noora xx


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Awkward Encounters – Skin Colour Convos Part 2

Marble Beach, Sri Lanka

Following on from my piece “Skin Colour – why does the world still care” I thought I would share some of my own experiences from my marriage and my integration into my husband’s family during our first year of marriage. 

Having converted only a little while before my first visit to Sri Lanka, I was still very unaware of the traditional family systems and procedures that they would have as Muslims, and I was even more unprepared for the overload of attention that I would receive given that we are the first mixed nationality couple to ever be married in his home town. I had never before been in a situation where I was considered the “local celebrity” and I found myself thrown in at the deep end and struggling to swim. I have never been comfortable in the spotlight but I had spent many years travelling and working with lots of different nationalities so I suppose I thought I was prepared. I was wrong.

I was chastised by aunties for not saying Bismillah (I didn’t even know what that meant at this point), questioned over my mahr (again, no idea I even had to receive anything, I just wanted to get married), received shocked looks at the lack of gold I had (I have never liked gold, either real or fake, and I thought it looked cheap on me), and lastly I was promptly told that I was one or all of the following by numerous ladies – old (I was 27),burnt, chubby,badly dressed, hair like sweetcorn and shockingly enough – that my English wasn’t good. I had neighbours walking into our family home literally standing staring at me and children would run down the street screaming ‘white lady white lady”. I became so uncomfortable that I cried every day for the first few days. My new family were, and still are, very good to me and did their utmost to ensure I wasn’t upset or uncomfortable, but even they couldn’t control the whole neighborhood!

I couldn’t get my head around it. Why was I such a commodity simply because of my skin colour? 

The fact that skin colour was such a big deal made me very uncomfortable and I tried to fade into the background. That didn’t work. I had to visit neighbours out of formality so I was forced to deal with it. After a few days I managed to laugh it off and I became slightly more adjusted to being gawped at everywhere I went. I also adjusted to the brutal questioning regarding my background and financial situation. I have never once as an adult discussed my salary with my parents and they would never ask, and now suddenly I had strangers questioning my financial status and plans for my savings. It was automatically assumed that I was “rich” because I am white. When my husband casually mentioned that I had worked as a house maid during my teenage years, he was met with looks of disbelief, as thought this wasn’t even feasibly possible.

However, as the days went on, I adjusted to the warmth of the family unit in this new culture. I started to like the 3 hour breakfasts with the whole family; the fact that they all knew everything about each others pasts; the deep rooted sense of “doing the right thing” and the overwhelming sense of community. I gradually realised that I was being smothered only because they didn’t know any other way to help me fit in. I realised that the problem wasn’t with them as such, it was also with me because I felt embarrassed by the attention I was given. I noticed that when I relaxed and let them fuss and take care of me as they would have for any new bride, everyone was much happier. 

On my last day I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness that I was leaving, and even though the staring and questioning still irritated me I also appreciated many things about this community. I admired the strict family hierarchy and the respect that the children showed their elders, something which I rarely see in the western world, at least not to such an extreme. I liked the fact that there were always people around and that there was always a hot meal for anyone who came to the home, at any time. I enjoyed the fact that I saw a new side to my husband as he made sure to visit every possible family member or friend in his town so as to ensure that no-one felt offended.  

I have visited Sri Lanka 3 times now , and while the country as a whole is booming with tourism, my husbands town is still relatively undeveloped and I am still a commodity. I have however made some progress with not being waited on hand and foot – on my last trip I made tea for the family (tea is a big deal in Sri Lanka. A very big deal) and I firmly insisted on being allowed to clear up after dinner as I would do in my own home. This may sound like a very small thing but I consider it a triumph!

So while skin colour might not be relevant or important to me, sadly it  is, and will continue to be, in many parts of the world.  I for one will keep fighting my own battle against this (and making my own tea) one step at a time.