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Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Ambassador in Niqab

By Farah Rahim ( Malaysia)

I was going through a tough time in my life that I questioned Allah (SWT) about it, astagfirullah (I ask Allah for forgiveness). Trying to find the answers, I attended a parenting course by my daughter’s private Islamic preschool Dzul Iman. The Khalifah Parenting course changed how I view life on earth, 180degrees totally.

I learnt that life in world is borrowed. Time is borrowed. Even your children are borrowed. So what makes us think that everything belongs to us and should go the way we want it?

I was very successful before that tough time. I have avid followers as I promoted healthy living, healthy parenting. I was Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Ambassador for Selangor, Malaysia and even spoke to Jamie Oliver himself via Google Hangout on the launching of the day.

Little did I know, that on the event day in Malaysia, a follower had made supplication for me to adorn the hijab properly. In her own words, she said – “you have such gentle ways to be a da’ee (conveyer of Islamic message) – but I was sad that you were not a proper Muslim so I made supplication.

Masya Allah (Praise be to Allah)! I never knew how big the power of supplication until all this happened to me.

So, maybe it was the power of supplication that changed my heart to attend the course.

I cried during one of the teachings in the course: “Nothing belongs to you, not even your children. Your children are a loan to you by the grace of Allah.”

Then there was that story about the hijab: “Why bother about the colorful hijab you must have in this world, when in Jannah you can have all the colorful hijab you want?” The sale is 100% off and goes on for infinity.

Surely, everything belongs to Allah (swt). So, why do I think five times a day is enough for me to communicate with Allah? I felt that there was a huge barrier between me and my Maker and sought ways to close that gap. Then it came to my dressing. How will Allah take notice of me if I do things half-heartedly? More importantly how do I set a solid foundation in my daughter on the true concept of Haya (modesty) in Islam when I do not promote it to its full potential?

Haya isn’t just putting a covering on your head. The word haya’ is derived from the word “al-hayah”, which means life. Now, this got me thinking. If you do not have haya, you do not have life. You are as good as a dead person. Islam encourages and treasures al-haya’ or modesty. It is one of the most important characteristics that each and every Muslim should acquire and possess.

The following  are some hadiths which emphasize this great quality:

“Haya’ (modesty) and Iman (faith) are two that go together. If one is lifted, the other is also lifted.”
[Recorded by al-Hakim]

“Al-Haya’ is part of Iman.”
“Haya’ does not produce but goodness.”
[Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Abu Mas’ud ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amr al-Ansari al-Badri, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said: “Among the things that people have found from the words of the previous prophets was: ‘If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.’”

My niqab (face covering), my khimar, my dressing has faithfully kept me to not always do things as I wish. It is a constant self- reminder. A stop sign.  An U-Turn when I go astray. To always remember that I am trying to bridge the gap between me and Allah. A constant reminder that I am trying to gain extra points. It is my Haya. My life.

The first few months were truly a struggle. There were pitfalls. There were times I had gone astray due to my nafs (self-desire). Moments, I am not proud of. But as we learn from mistakes, it’s so liberating to know that when I go out into the world, I have something to constantly remind me of the purpose I am here: “Everything is borrowed and that the After Life is my ultimate goal. Everything I do is for Allah, and that pitfalls are of my own doing for not following the ways of Allah.”

I came across many interesting situations with my niqab. When non-Muslims questions, it gives me that urge to find an answer that will satisfy their curiosity.  When the Muslims question my niqab, I say: “aah I see! Let’s make the best of each day. I am just gaining some extra credits. It’s something I personally want to do.”

The best part, my children have never felt different for having a mother who wears a niqab.  In fact, it has been easy to mold my teenage daughter because she can better associate the feeling of “dressing inappropriately when my mother is dressed more appropriately.”

Five months after I adorned my niqab, that very same follower of my Food Revolution, emailed me saying “Masya Allah, my prayers have been answered. You inspire us so much kakak (sister). This really completes you and amplifies the love and guidance and positive affirmations we all need as mothers, as women, and as  Muslims and much more.”

I cried. I was born Muslim but fully understood my role. My niqab has been the pinnacle of where I feel that I am born again.

“By time, indeed, Mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Qur’an, Al-Asr 103]


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