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Mask of Virtue


Bism-illah irahman nirahim

In the name of Allah, the beneficent and most merciful

Ramadan: the time of prayer, reflection and divine forgiveness.

This month is a mirror that shows us the reflection of how we should be living compared to how we actually do. Men are resolved to keeping beards and many women go through virtual makeovers as the make-up kits, hair dryers and so-called ‘fashionable’ clothes take a well earned break. The hijab is taken out of the closet, the cobwebs are shaken of it and it is this humble cloth that is the flavour of the month until the next Ramadan comes around.

When I was going to university, I had a friend whom like so many of us British Muslims liked to dress in western clothing and at one of our oft held aftaris, claimed quite boastfully that during Ramadan, she went to her lectures without makeup and she always covered her legs. Well sister, I want to ask you and so many more of you out there that why are those legs on display in the first place?  Ramadan is not similar to the Christian month of Lent in which Christians sacrifice one of their pleasures such as chocolate for a period of forty days to seek the pleasure of God and to show him what a grand gesture and sacrifice this is. We can not “mark” this holy month by donning the mask of virtue with these hopeless hoaxes. Islam demands that we seek the pleasure of Allah (swt) by praying five times of a day the whole year round not just during this holy month. Our great religion asks that its faithful shows gestures and sacrifices every day of the year, which do not have to be grand but the day that any girl decides that her jeans or skirt is too revealing and that skirt, no matter how coveted is thrown to the scarp heap, that young lady will have made the gesture that truly pleases Allah (swt).

It is very amusing to see how during this wonderful month, all the pop stars churn out Hamds and Naats - religious poetry, and all the sleeveless shirts of the Pakistani actresses give way to scarves, even if they are arranged in such a way as to not to ruin the carefully made up hair styles. The Asian television channels as a whole have a resounding “Allah Hoo” to it. However once the month is over, the “Allah Hoo” turns into “I love you” and Muslims as a whole jump back onto the bandwagon of love triangles and over exposure. Why this hypocrisy?

We may not be able to change what is on our television sets but we can change what is within. Why can’t that beard or hijab stay in place? We know what is right because we instinctively follow it during Ramadan – the diligent reading of Salaat, the utterances of the Qur’an, the simplicity of dress, the lack of showmanship, so why after the Eid festival is there a feeling that the ‘difficult’ or ‘religious’ time is over, and we can go back to how we were. I am not saying that makeup or looking nice is wrong, as Islam is based on hygiene and cleanliness but there is no place for exposure of the skin or hair. We make an effort during Ramadan but turn back to the tight jeans and revealing clothes. Even the scarf - dupatta if used correctly is fashionable and modest, but sadly spends most of its time thrown over the shoulders to hide precisely- nothing.

It could and should be so different. Islam is the most modern of religions giving women unprecedented rights but it does not give women the right to flaunt themselves unnecessarily. Looking good and fashionable is one thing, which can have a place within the Muslim lifestyle but following the wrong fashion which exposes oneself in the incorrect way should be outlawed- Ramadan and beyond. We should follow a lifestyle regardless of the date and month. It is true that some days are holier than others and one makes a special effort to pray more during those days. Prayer can be increased but virtue and modesty should remain the same. There should be no need to cosmetically improve ones modesty or dress to mark certain days- that should be our lifestyle not merely a symbol.

Ramadan is a month of prayer, reflection and divine forgiveness- it is not the time for makeovers and false pretences.

Mrs Alia Aurangzeb


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