A large part of the tumblr female Muslim community revolves around one thing: appearance. And while we do spend a fair amount of time posting pictures of ourselves and commenting on others photos, we have accepted that there are certain aspects of our appearance that are haram or needing regulation. The question of the hijab, modesty, wearing bright colors, jewelry, makeup, plucking eyebrows and wearing nailpolish are all widely discussed topics. We sit here and discuss if it’s allowed, how to get around it, how to make it halal. Men have joined in on the discussion, but it’s not just tumblr talking about it. We discuss it with our friends, our families, we hear it at the masjid. While the men get to discuss issues of taqwa and iman, it’s nailpolish and eyebrows for the women.
Nushin Arbabzadah wrote in The Guardian that regarding women, religion has become trivialized. And that’s a sad truth. Intrude into the religious discussion amongst men, and you will hear topics such as importance of tawheed, being a leader and strengthening iman. Women? Appearance and how to be a good mother and wife.
And women are to blame for this as well. We accept the male subjugation of us to the realm of the “pretty”, while they are allowed to run off and deal with real religious issues. We propagate the eyebrow debate, constantly rehashing the issue of nailpolish when we should be moving on to discussion of the faith.
Women of course are allowed to discuss this, I myself enjoy fashion and related things. But we shouldn’t allow this to be the sum of our Islamic experience: debating whether or not eyeshadow is allowed. We can’t expect men to slowly hand us responsibility and leadership roles, history has proven that they won’t. We know the Qur’an, we know the Sunnah. It’s time to stand up, fight back, and stop letting our religious experience be trivialized to the sexist divide of makeup and clothing.
I absolutely agree. I have immense respect for any woman that considers issues of significance relative to her deen beyond what is relevant to her appearance. Women play a critical role in setting the tone of our social conscience, and if that is to be confined to just appearance, then perhaps that is a significant cause for the effeminacy that is pervasive in the western culture, and rapidly being adopted into the Muslim culture as well.