Monday 20 October 2008

Watching Oranges or Navel-Gazing

Okay so I am navel-gazing (again), so you may just want to look away. I was inspired to due to a kind of light-bulb moment, or perhaps a moment of self-awareness?

Fashionista showed me a picture of one of her friends’ collection of Swarovski jewellery which just took my breath away (my weakness for shiny things and sweet things is ridiculously childish), boxes and boxes of the stuff, all arranged by colour (I know, I am so anal). I felt a more than momentary pang of longing and my mind kept returning to jewellery, shoes and pashmina’s. I kept thinking about how I needed to buy that one more thing and I would look smart for work or for when I go out with my children or pretty for my husband.

Then I stopped and sat down and thought about the fact that if I were to go down this route of thinking, no-matter what I buy would be enough. Things do not give you confidence. I realised I need to take what I have and wear it with 100% confidence even if it is the same old abaya that is getting shiny with ironing and the shoes that my sister has kindly pointed out are very worn-down (I just can’t find a pair that doesn’t hurt that doesn’t look like they were made for my gran). But then I do have that giant mock-croc bag that costs £4 (and looks like it cost £400) and turns heads wherever I go and the velvet Next cost that costs me £2 that my manager loves. Anyway I digress; I just need to learn to value myself for myself rather than for what I wear or what work I do.

I also thought about all that money that I could waste on jewellery or shoes and how it could be better spent – on saving to help my brother and sisters pay for their weddings on day (soon Insh’Allah), towards Umrah for us as a family or a last hajj for my mum-in-law. It could be better spent as sadaqah (charity) in a million different places. The pair of pointy ankle-boots or the swarovski rayskin-look bangle suddenly didn’t feel as desirable; after all it won’t come near what we will get in jannah for giving it up insh’Allah. Plus sometimes you discipline yourself against having or getting something you want and Allah (SWT) just puts it in your lap – has that ever happened to you?

I probably need to get deeper to the real issue – confidence. I just need to remind myself every now and again to behave like a grown Muslim woman. To wear what you have and wear it with utter confidence, to walk tall and with a bounce in my step and energy in my stride. To just make peace with myself and just enjoy being who I am. Being vital is always better than being well-shod or bejewelled. As it is to be good, to be kind, to be modest, be still, be useful to someone, to be skilled, be confident, be joyful, be creative, be calm, be worshipful, be open, be healthy, be full of energy and love. There must be a thousand things to be that are better than being expensively-dressed (although if anyone is giving swarovski-studded abaya’s away that’s not a no from me) I think I just need to keep working on all of those other things.

One lady who seems to have got that message straight in her head and whose words have comforted and inspired me in the past is Sultana Yusufali whose article “A lesson to be learned” was published by Toronto Star Young People's Press when she was a 17 year-old high school student, I hope it does the same for others.

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