Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hijab Swap

When I'm out shopping, and I pick up an item, this thought creeps into my mind. "What am I going to do with this when I'm dead." This thought always tempers whatever excitement I was feeling over the possibility that the item in my hand could be mine, but it also makes me think of all the stuff I have at home. It almost physically weighs me down.
By far, my biggest offense occurred several months before my surgery when I told my husband I was going to Target to buy a few essential items...and that's what I was doing, until I stumbled upon this giant wooden pair in the kitchen aisle. The little shopping monster in me (aka my nafs) ordered me to buy the good-for-nothing giant pair, and I followed the orders obediently. Needless to say, my husband had a ball teasing me about how "essential" giant pears are- I couldn't say anything because, as creative as I can be, I couldn't think of a single use for it.
I think for a long time, I took the habit of needless buying lightly, as if it was just a fun little quirk I had. But slowly, I allowed myself to be consumed with consumption. I was on a mission: I needed to find the perfect throw pillows, then I needed to find the perfect throw, then I needed to find the perfect luggage set. My life became a never-ending shopping list. Just as soon as I attained one "perfect" item, another shot up in it's place. How did I let this happen? How did I allow what I owned to become part of my identity?
“Doomed is the slave of the dinar, doomed is the slave of the dirham, doomed is the slave of fine cloth and doomed is the slave of velvet. If he is given something he is pleased and if he is denied, he is angry. Doomed is he!...” said the prophet (PBUH). I had allowed myself to become a slave. After reality came crashing down on me I saw what little good all my stuff had done for me. I looked upon most of my stuff with disdain, realizing how much time, money and mindshare it had all occupied.
It's so liberating now to go to the store and know that the nice things I see cannot tempt me. I try to make my purchases very deliberately, and when the new spring line at Pottery Barn rears it's pretty little head, I tell myself something Ali ibn ibi Talib (and one of my best friends taught me), "يا دنيا غري غيري " or roughly, "Oh world, go tempt someone else!"
So in an effort to simplify my life, and free myself of some of the "stuff" I felt was weighing me down, my friend and I organized a hijab swap. Most of my friends came to the event with an armload of hijabs, and went home with just two or three that they really liked. The remaining hijabs are going to an organization dedicated to serving abused Muslim women. (The organization was started by a remarkable Muslim woman http://www.wafahouse.org/).
My friend and I also pared down the food at our event, serving only foods that had roots in the Quran or prophetic tradition. We put little cards next to each dish, explaining the food's significance. It was amazing. The food was so simple, yet delicious and filling. I'm posting a few pictures of the event below.
Subhan'Allah, when you shift your focus to your ultimate goals in life, your entire scale of what's valuable changes. I want my good deeds, and not my stuff to speak for who I am.


  1. I'm finally getting emails sent directly to my inbox :)

    I loved the post - I think all of us have some form of consumption monster in us. There is a lesson here we can all learn from.

  2. This is such a good idea...and the post is a good reminder.

  3. Soufie, it's actually a pretty messed up system, you can only send the posts to only ten emails...I don't know what I should do, rotate?

    Thanks Mona, I'd love to hear if you have any ideas for other events.

  4. Rehab, can u please add a feed so that we can get it through readers?

    As always, incredible writing.

  5. Subhanallah Ra7ub,I had/have that shopping monster in me. I just recently started shifting my way of thinking when i walk down the isles of a store, whether it'd be clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, home essentials, whatever it may be I think twice to myself, do I really NEED or WANT this or is it like the other ones I have and own? Is this item that I am going to buy benefit me in any way? Other than the hadith that you'd mentioned I tell my self, there are others who can't afford to buy 1/8th of what I already have in my close, need I add more to it? There are those who barely have clothes to keep them covered or warm :-( Jazaki Allahu Khairan for the reminder.

  6. G.E&B- Thanks for ushering me into the 21st Century :) I think I changed the settings so you can receive a feed, but I'll need someone to check if I did it correctly.

    Nisrena- Very true. Subhan'Allah, I think because the prospect of death feels more imminent for me, not only do I think, "What am I going to do with this when I'm dead," I also practically think about how my husband and family will have to deal with all the junk I leave behind. It really makes me want to be a simple person, with a few, meaningful possessions.

  7. What a beautiful evening you arranged Rehab!!! As always I am touched and impressed by your posts. Inshallah you are doing well! Keep teaching the rest of us your wise, life lessons :)

  8. I learned that lesson through being a starving college student ;)

    I love reading your posts and I love you, see you soon inshaALlah!

  9. Fadiahjude, I love both of you :)

    Amoona, I love you too, and can't wait to see you insha'allah.

  10. That was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture mashAllah.
    I am working on getting rid of my shopping demons. My husband has finally given me back my card.LOL.

  11. do this again soon and I promise I will be in state!I love the food idea. thanks for posting sweetie. can't wait to see u soon isa.

  12. Rehab, I love you. Your writing is so on the head and always gets me thinking... Walla, its all true what you wrote. And what a great idea, it should be a tradition, a calendar holiday to combat the consumerism that has swallowed us all. Allah bless you and your awesome talent. xoxo

  13. Too bad rehab you are not here for me to make fun of your misspelling of "pear", I do love giant wooden fruit

  14. i love you rehab. MasahAaLLAH you are the most inspireing person i have ever met (=
    thank you for impacting my life and helping me become closer to my Allah (=