All day, I’ve been blocking Muslims on Instagram. Men, women, and children. Most of them from the Middle-East.
Why? Because a modest instablog, Modestroute, that showcases Muslim women around the world decided to repost one of my photos.
In the photo, I am fully clothed. I have on all black. A faux leather jacket because I’m poor. A shirt and a pair of jeans. I also have on hijab and black lipstick. My fist is balled and in the air and my eyes are closed. I originally posted the photo back in the summer to bring awareness to racial and social injustice. It’s a dope photo. I got like fifteen mosquito bites from standing in the tall grass that day during the shoot.
Instead of people liking the photo or just scrolling past my Black face and my fat body, they went into attack mode. Swarming not only the photo on Modestroute’s page but on my personal page. “This is haram,” a Muslim man posted.
“Sorry, but how is this modest?” another user asked.
“She’s gorgeous, but she can cover up more,” said a Muslim girl who hadn’t worn hijab in her profile photo.
“Muslim??? Feminist??? Make up??? Wallahi end of times is NEAR!!!” one person exclaimed.
One user argued, “Her clothes are more modest than many other Muslim girls out there. Trust me.”
“She doesn’t represent Muslims,” a girl said. If I hadn’t represented a real Muslim woman then who was I at all?
On my personal page, the jabs were worse. Users sought out photos and trolled in the comment sections. They said: I should cover my body for the sake of Allah (swt), what I wore wasn’t proper hijab, I was even called a whore and shaitan (devil), and that I couldn’t possibly be Muslim. The last comment hurt most of all. That my Islam was so deeply rooted by what I chose to wear…or not wear.
I blocked so many folks that I lost count.
I’ve written about this before, but I am so very tired of having to validate my Islam. I’m tired of the ‘are you Muslim’ question when clearly ‘Muslim Feminist’ is stated in my bio. I’m tired of Arab-speaking Muslims treating me as if I don’t know the rules of Islam because I’m Black, asking me if I celebrate Ramadan or if I know the Al-Fatiha by heart. Clapping like I’m some kind of circus monkey when I reply yes. Why isn’t just me saying that I’m Muslim enough? When did we move into an era where we have to prove our closeness with Allah (swt) or spirituality? And, why do some Muslims feel the need to be super-Muslim and correct every wrong and cross every T? I feel like we are in a time where everyone is an internet mufti accredited by Sheik Google.
Guess what? I know the rules of proper hijab as stated in the holy book, but I choose not to do it. I choose to wear tight jeans and leggings and turbans and lipstick and nail polish. That’s what I choose to do. And that is my ultimate choice how outwardly Muslim I’d like to look. That choice doesn’t make me any less of a Muslim. I’m sorry to burst your Islamic bubble. I don’t go around harassing Muslims who choose to wear abayas or niqab just because I don’t wear it. Nor do I judge them solely based on what they wear or how they wear it. Newsflash: there are bad Muslims who wear modest clothing. There are bad Muslims who have full beards. There are bad Muslims all around the world. Just like there are bad people all around the world.
When we get down to the root of Islam, there is a way to guide a Muslim to the straight path or correct a wrong. Bashing someone on the internet is far, far away from it. You are not helping me dress more modestly. You are not helping me strengthen my spirituality or faith. You are harming yourself, because who knows, you may end up dealing with a similar situation.
We are so worried about appearances of Muslim women and girls that we forget what Islam is all about. The outer appearance is only a small portion of our belief system. Islam encompasses all levels of spirituality from low to high, and we all struggle with different trials. I may struggle with dress and another may struggle with speech and another with greed.
Should we all just start calling each other haram? Should we all begin trolling one another? Maybe we should check our intentions and understand that there is much more to a Muslim than his/her way of dress.