Tag Archives: religion

Veiled at 24

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Our first guest blogger Loulwa Kalache talks about her experience of wearing the veil at the age of 24.

by: Loulwa Kalache

On May 20, 2012, I was putting the first touches on my crown. It was a coronation for a new Loulwa.

I was putting the Hijab.

It wasn’t just about a piece of cloth that I merely put, it was an actual transformation of my state.

Why did I become a “Mouhajaba” at age of 24?

In 2011, I was going through a lot of personal hardships. Yet it was during this time, that I found myself kneeling to Allah. I found myself fully submissive to His will only.

Although, earlier I was pious in following almost all basic duties of Islam, praying, saying the Shahadah, fasting, believing in judgment day and the prophets…etc However, I wasn’t feeling Islam properly. I wasn’t actually submissive fully to the will of Allah.  I put a lot of worldly things before Allah.
Thus, I started feeling a tiny growing feeling in my heart that made me create a long forgotten relationship with my God. Until there was a significant day, I decided what I want from this life. It was a day that I asked and prayed for God to guide me through, to show me the way, and to find me a solution to end this dispute and get rid of the worldly attachments. Indeed, a spiritual revolution occurred inside of me.

In that year, I planned to be a better Muslim; to perfect my prayers, to wake up and pray fajr, to read Quran every day, and to deliver the right message about Islam to others. I did my best to do all these. But there was something missing that I was not following. It was one basic element that God asked from women specifically, which was to cover their heads and bodies.
But what was hindering me?

Despite I was raised in an Islamic setting where my parents always wanted me to wear the veil, they never forced it on me. They used to explain to me the consequences of not putting it versus putting it. I never listened to them and I refused to put it at a young age.
Deep in my subconscious, I was afraid of being labeled as mouhajabah. I wanted to be “free” and not chained by a cover over my hair.

I created this mindset believing that mouhajabeh can’t do anything. And that a mouhajabah  is perceived as a “shy”, “behind the man”, and not outgoing persona. And that she will be labeled differently. What was I thinking back then? Indeed, I was blind, and ignorant with these stereotypes. Excuse me for that.

So society or people were never the hindering agent. The only struggle I was facing was my own self. So as soon as I let go of this foolish mindset, I decided to put the veil. I wanted to represent Islam properly. I want to show them what it is to be a Muslimah that can follow religion and at the same time be an activist, a hard worker, and a sociable person …A veil can never hinder me, nor my ambitions.
When I put it, there were no remarkable challenges. I remember clearly the moment I put it: I was walking in Beirut, and I didn’t feel any less different. On the contrary, I felt more confident and proud.

Of course family and friends were surprised and happy. No one criticized me or told me to remove it…They did question my motives and reasons, perhaps out of curiosity. And even if some didn’t like that change, I didn’t really care.
Because it was not something I did between me and my society. It was something I did between myself and the Almighty. Because when someone is doing something purely for Allah, he or she doesn’t wait for the world to approve.

 

loulwa

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Tear Drops

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Every Thursday we go to the mosque to read a supplication ( Do3a2) called do3a2 Kumaeil . It is a beautiful ritual that I like to call the “cleansing of the soul “. It is almost like reading an inspiring quote that really makes you think except that Do3a2 is like reading a thousand inspiring quotes that make you think on a spiritual level and it is abeautiful source of wisdom. There is some sadness associated with Do3a2 because it reminds us of our sins and that we are not as important and powerful as we really think we are, I call this part of the of the Do3a2 “ The wakeup call“.

I have to confess that I do not always focus and enjoy the do3a2 as much as I would have wanted either because I am tired or occupied with work but I swear that there hasn’t been a time when I left the mosque after Do3a2 not feeling better and this in its self is a blessing.

The last time I was in the mosque there were two ten year old girls sitting next to me and in the middle of the do3a2 I began to cry. The two girls looked at me with amusement and I could hear one of them asking the other “Should we be crying as well? “ Her friend replied by saying that she has no clue “ How should I know , but I guess since everyone is crying we should be crying too “ At that moment I stopped focusing in the do3a2 and all my attention was at these two young girls who were trying to understand and to fit in what was going on. They both started to close their eyes and bow their heads hoping that a tear would drop and every five minutes they would take a sneak peak at each other to see if one them had succeeded in her attempt to cry. After 30 minutes of trying they failed, they looked at me to see if I was still crying and when they saw that I was they came up to me and asked me the most beautiful question “ Is it ok if we didn’t cry?”.

These two girls had put so much effort into respecting the do3a2 and had dedicated an entire hour to sit and listen to something they barely understood and by the end of it all they felt guilty that they did not cry. I was jealous that they had so much concern about something that was not even obligatory in Islam and I envied their pure spirit. I left the mosque that day feeling inspired by these girls. Sometimes we do not fully commit ourselves to reading do3a2 or to praying or to reading Quran but we can learn from those who do. I understood that part of why we go to the mosque is because there will definitely be someone who is fully committed to religion, someone who takes a long time to pray and who reads Quran slowly , someone who cries throughout the do3a someone who can inspire us even if they are 10 years old.

The Answer to my Prayers

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The fact that we are consumed with our daily lives sometimes makes our religious duties part of our daily routine  and we stop enjoying them .They are tasks we must complete before a period of time  and sometimes we might feel that they are a burden . I have felt like this for quite a while and I have struggled in finding answers as to how do I integrate religion into my life ? This question puzzled me and little did I know that I was to find the answer very soon .

In an attempt to free my self from this mentality , I forced my self to put a religious schedule , listen to Islamic lectures etc . At first it was so exciting and gradually the routine would catch up to me and I would have to start all over again. It was really depressing , at days I would feel paralyzed and I would constantly pray to God ” Make me closer to you ” ” Please God make it easy for me to become more religious” .

In a point of my life where I was merely an ” Islamic Robot ”  I traveled to Iran- ( for those of you that do not know ,Iran is considered as a holy land , a place where the graves /shrines of the Holy Prophet’s Grandchildren lie ) going there is a big deal , it is almost as important as going to Mecca although it is not part of our Islamic obligations) .

Unfortunately my intentions at the beginning were not to free from my self from this religious dilemma , instead I was going for business. I was to complete my work, visit the Holy graves and come back . No religious agenda was planned , I was simply going.

The moment where you see the Holy Shrine in Iran , your heart aches and tears will flow on your face whether you are  religious or not there is something magnificent that happens. At that moment I knew that God had answered my prayer , I had not come to Iran for business, God was bringing me closer to him as I had requested from him for so long. I was there , this was my chance and I was determined to live this religious journey .

We had a Sheik with us and we had a religious program that we followed . It was exhausting yet beautiful and I was beginning to feel that spirituality I had been longing for for years. Praying with thousands of Muslims , reading Quraan with so many people , the humming sound of people praying god  that you hear as you enter the shrine brought warmth to my heart .

I left Iran after 7 days , I was on the road to change and in my final prayer at the Shrine, I realized that I had found the answer to my puzzling question ” How do I integrate religion into my life ? ” The answer was that you don’t , You integrate Your life into religion. Because that is how I was living for the past 7 days .

Religious journeys are not for Muslims or Christians or Sunni or Shiaa , they are for Humanity because we are born with questions and we are looking for reassurances, we are looking for Faith  . And if you are ever lost or in doubt pray to God and he will answer .

I was lost , I am still lost but I have found my key –  I pray to God that you find yours.

With all my love and Prayers ,

Esraa