The 3 Second Leap: How to Take Off the Hijab in 4 Steps

Step 1

This is the ice breaker. Have a chat with your siblings (if you have any) and complain about the hiijab. Let them know that you don’t like it.  The tone is super important though! You need to sound sad and frustrated…. they’ll sympathize with you that way.

Step 2

Have a chat with your friends: tell them the absolute truth… you are probably going to lose a couple of them, but fuck ’em they weren’t your real friends to begin with. I have had lots of my “friends” ditch me but who cares as long as I get to stand in my own truth right?!

Step 3

PREPARE A RESPONSE. Once you take off the hijab, your extended family are going to keep asking you why you took it off and you can answer them in 2 ways: a) it’s not mandatory or b) I’m not ready. I highly suggest the latter because boy can debating a) go on forever, and when they start analyzing the Arabic in all the verses……

If they keep pestering you about it, try ending the conversation with the good ‘ol: “God Help Me.”

Step 4

Announce to the world that you will be taking off the hijab the night before. YES the night before. Taking off the hijab is like ripping off a band aid, it’s going to hurt for a bit and then everything will settle in. The hardest part about taking off the hijab is the first day. You’re probably going to get a lot of dirty looks from a few of the religious folks in your community and you might be the topic of many kitchen-table talks, but after 2 weeks everybody will have forgotten about you.  It’s sad that it took me well over a YEAR to muster the courage to take off the hijab when the action in of its self took only 3 seconds.

Taking off the hijab oddly enough, is probably going to feel like one of the most selfish decisions you will ever make. You have to be callous about it because you will be hurting so many members of your family. Taking off the hijab is about YOU.  If you want to take it off then you have to ignore the tearful pleas from your parents begging you to not sin; hence, the need for callousness. The night before I took off the hijab, my mother came to my room and sat on my bright orange rocking chair. She then began to cry when she saw my hijab-less back to school outfit spread across my bed. She begged and begged me no to do it. Each tear was like a stab to my heart but I did not budge.  I knew what I wanted and I was going to have it. As callous as it might be, I basically told my mom to get over it; mind you, this woman sacrificed everything for me and this is how removing the hijab can be pretty selfish. But here’s the thing, if you don’t take that 3 second leap, you’ll find yourself wearing the hijab for the rest of your life (or being an ex hijabi in secret which is no way to live).

So I leave you with this one piece of advice: JUST DO IT.  It’s been 2 years now and my family simply chuckle whenever I refuse to wear the hijab. How odd that just the year before, all 11 of my uncles and aunts were pestering me about my decision.  For some of you, this may not be the case. Perhaps your parents will disown you; perhaps you will have to run away. But you have a decision to make. Do you want to live your life in freedom? If so, take that three second leap. The hijab is not just some fabric, it is a statement; because let’s face it, wearing something you do not believe in whenever you are outside is depressing as hell.  I wish you all SAFETY and success in your journey xoxoxoxox

The Mukhannathun: Islam and Transgenderism


Retrieved from:

The “effeminate ones” or the “Mukhannathun” in classical Arabic are usually described as trans women; some, however, confuse them for Eunuchs .   The Mukhanatun , according to many Islamic scholars, are people born as males but identify themselves as women by dressing, talking, and carrying themselves in more feminine ways.  Muslim women do not have to cover up around the Mukhannathun since they are considered to be free of sexual desire for women.  Islam as a whole is surprisingly progressive towards the Mukhannathun if you compare it to its stance on homosexuality; it is no sin to be effeminate if you were born that way, but if you act as a woman for monetary gains such as engaging in prostitution, then it is a sin. The hadith talks about the Mukhanatun but not in a positive way in my opinion; apparently they were banished to a region near Mecca by the prophet (it’s important to know that the he forbade the killing of them):

Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 41, Number 4910:

Narrated AbuHurayrah:

A mukhannath who had dyed his hands and feet with henna was brought to the Prophet. He asked: What is the matter with this man? He was told: Apostle of Allah! he affects women’s get-up. So he ordered regarding him and he was banished to an-Naqi’. The people said: Apostle of Allah! should we not kill him? He said: I have been prohibited from killing people who pray. AbuUsamah said: Naqi’ is a region near Medina and not a Baqi (in other words not referring to Jannat al-Baqi‘ cemetery.

The Quran, on the other hand, seems to be very clear in the existence of only 2 sexes as can be seen in verse 75:93 : “And he made him two mates, the male and the female.” Some Muslims believe that Transgenderism is an anomaly, a sin, and that Allah does not make mistakes. However; more progressive Muslims believe that the sex of the soul and biological sex can be different. You see, according to the Quran, Allah would breath the soul into the fetus after it is created; perhaps the sex of the soul and body are incompatible and that is why we have transgenderism?  Many Muslim countries have in some ways taken a compassionate stance to transgenderism namely Iran and Egypt.  Iran carries the most sex reassignment surgeries in the world and the government covers half of the expenses; they also change the patient’s sex in their birth certificate.  This progressive attitude occurred after the revolution of 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on transgenderism. Egypt also followed suit in 1988 with the renowned Islamic institution of Al Azhar also issuing a similar fatwa on sex reassignment surgery:

“As for the condemnation of [men] who by word and deed resemble women, it must be confined to one who does it deliberately, while one who is like this out of a natural disposition must be ordered to abandon it. … The rulings derived from these and other noble hadiths on treatment grant permission to perform an operation changing a man into a woman, or vice versa. … It is, however, not permissible to do it at the mere wish to change sex from woman to man, or vice versa.”

Despite Iran having a more positive attitude on  Transgenderism, homosexuality is still a crime punishable by death. To avoid the death penalty, many gay people under go SRS so that they can resume their relationship in a safer, and most importantly, heterosexual way.

The Mukhannathun don’t fit in any one gender or sexual orientation category; the story of Tuay and Al Dal recounted in the hadith  are classic examples. Tuay was a Mukhannathun that ended up marrying a woman and having children, as for Al Dal, the story goes that he had intercourse with a bride on her wedding night and then moved on to the groom. It is clear that the Mukhannatun are very fluid in their gender and sexual identity.  Regardless of Islam’s more positive stance on trangederism, we can still see some intolerant behavior among the Muslim community. For example, we hear many stories of Trans women not being allowed to pray at the female section of mosques, they are usually forced to be with the men. I believe that such intolerance stems from ignorance, despite Iran and Egypt’s progressive attitude towards transgenderism, the Islamic community as a whole is not discussing the topic enough. I was always taught about the sodomites in Sunday school, but never once had I heard the term “Mukananthun.” It is on this note that I end this post: to make Islam more sexually positive and inclusive, there needs to be more dialogue about LGTBQ issues and the concept of Mukhannathun should be added to our Sunday school curriculum.

Becoming an Ex-Muslim: My Journey to Liberation

Lately I’ve been discussing with some of my Muslim friends on why I left Islam and I began to muse about how much I’ve changed over the last 4 years.  For starters, I was an ardent follower of Islam and most importantly a hijabi. My world view, my life….everything was tied to the religion and now it’s like I’m unrecognizable;  I feel reborn in a liberating sense but it’s still a lonely feeling having to leave everything you believed in. My journey to becoming an atheist and feminist is a long one filled with excitement, confusion, anger, happiness, and a whole bunch of other emotions that have made me a tad bit wiser in life.

For many years I never thought much about the religion, I was Muslim simply because my family was too. I wore the hijab at the age of 9 much against my father’s will; he felt that I was far too young to make such a rash decision and he was right. Girls are supposed to wear the hijab when they begin menstruating/hit puberty because they are now being judged by Allah.  In reality; however, they wear it when they are much younger. It’s a good way to practice what awaits you. I was attracted to the concept of the hijab when I went to visit my mother’s family in London for the summer at the age of 8. There, I saw many girls my age wearing the hijab and my aunt never hesitated to remind me about how special they were and how I could be like them. I began to equate self worth with wearing the hijab. To be a respected member of my family, to make my family proud, to make especially my mother proud, I had to wear the hijab. And so I decided to become a hijabi. My mom was so happy but my dad saw right through my decision and knew that it was not something I should take lightly; the hijab is a lifetime commitment. Stubborn, I pleaded with him until he allowed me to wear it (my grandpa kind of forced him to let me wear it too). I never felt more excited as I wore my one piece hijab with my green T-shirt and jeans as my back to school outfit. I was looking fly as ever for a third grader. As soon as I walked into school; however, I could feel many stares on me. La Fontaine was very small and everyone knew each other. Wearing the hijab for the first couple of weeks was embarrassing and awkward but I persisted and it in the end became part of my identity.

7 years would go by and I would act in plays and sing in choirs with my hijab in defiance of the constant discrimination I would face for choosing to veil myself.  Whether it was the lady at the gym ordering me to remove my hijab or Mrs. K. calling me a towel head in front of everyone, I moved passed it and thrived in the name of Allah. It wasn’t until I went to a Catholic high school that I started to question the hijab; after all, many of my Christian friends would ask me why I wore it and my response would always be the same: “it’s a religious prescription ordained by Allah.” Here’s the thing, I never knew the history behind the hijab nor the verses in the Quran that discussed it, and one day I was debating with my World Religions teacher about the hijab and he mentioned that the Quran does not really discuss the covering of hair. I was taken aback by his statement and the seed of “what if” was planted in my head. I remember that my High school trip to an Islamic school in Toronto made me notice the gender dynamics of my religion. My friends began to ask me all sorts of questions that I could not answer such as why women pray in the back; visiting that school made me uneasy the whole time, perhaps it was because I began to see the religion from the perspective of my friends and I did not like it one bit.

A couple of months later, I stumbled upon a website called; there, I learned about the hadith as well as the sexism that exists in Islam.  My discovery of this website led me to research about all things pertaining to women in Islam and I realized that we were  oppressed. Everything was a sin when it came to women; we could not dress as liberally as the guys, wear nail polish, wear too much makeup, pray when we’re menstruating, sing or dance in front of men, become Imams, divorce, and the list goes on.  I realized that much of these restrictions originated from the hadith, a collection of sayings by the prophet narrated by fellow Muslims 250 years after his death; upon learning that, I rejected the hadith and began to solely follow the Quran. I was a Muslim that followed the message of Allah, which was the Quran and not a collection of sayings privy to Chinese whisper. The Quran in of itself was not as restrictive against women; it preached modesty but not the covering of hair for example. We could be imams, sing, dance and do whatever we wanted. Becoming a quranist made me feel free. It’s important to note that my family is Sunni, meaning they follow not only the Quran but also the hadith. As a quranist I followed only the Quran.

Rejecting the hadith gave me the opportunity to interpret Islam in a more female-positive way and  after completing my first semester of university, I found the courage to take off my hijab for good (this is a whole other story that deserves another post). But even then, I kept finding more and more sexist verses in the Quran and there seemed to be no other way to interpret them. My mind was filled with questions ranging from why men can marry girls that have not began menstruating, to why it is necessary to stone the people of Sodom and Gomorra. What’s so bad about being homosexual anyway? They’re happy Allah. And why must we flog/imprison people for committing lewd acts? How is it that the Quran mentions repercussions for lewdness but not rape? Speaking of rape, is having sex with your slave consensual? Why are slaves allowed in Islam but alcohol and pork is prohibited? I had so many questions but so little answers. In hindsight, I was ripe for de-conversion.

I never found any answers and by my second year of university, a good friend of mine left the religion all together. I was stunned. Yes we have so many questions about the religion but we have plenty of time to study it and find our answers!  Despite all my efforts to bring her back to the religion, she changed my life. She gave me a way out. She showed me that leaving the religion was an option. A scary one, but nevertheless it was still an option.  I don’t  remember all the steps involved in my de-conversion, but I can tell you this much: I gradually stopped praying and caring about the religion, I wasn’t an ex-Muslim but I was on the edge of the cliff, as my friend called it, about to fall into disbelief. One April night, I made the jump after watching this video:

It was like a fog in my mind cleared up and all I saw was clarity. Leaving Islam gave me dignity; I was now free to face the truth about who I am as a woman: I am equal to man. My mind was now able to wonder free and critique the gender binaries in our world, I could now explore my sexuality, and I could now be fully accepting of everyone especially my gay buddies without having to feel like I was sinning. As of right now, I consider myself atheist simply because I don’t believe in any kind of deity and I guess it’s because there’s just no evidence. My life has definitely become more complicated, my parents don’t know that I’ve left the religion…it would break their hearts but I know that in the near future I will have to come out. But that’s a long time from now; right now I’m just going to live.

Aisha and the Prevalence of Child Brides in the Muslim World

In my many years of being a Muslim, the one thing that always surprised me was the silence around the discussion of Aisha, the Mother of all Believers. Aisha Bint Abu Bakr was one of muhammad_aisha-253x300the many wives of Prophet Muhammad; what makes her a huge controversy in Islam was her age when she married the prophet. See the thing is, Aisha was married off to 53 year old Muhammad at the age of 6 and had it consummated when she was 9. The age of her consummation is hotly debated among Muslim scholars, was she 9 or 10? To me, both are equally messed up. Aisha was basically a political offering meant to strengthen Muhammad’s ties to her father, Abu Bakr, a powerful man who ended up becoming the 1st Caliph (ruler) of the Muslim world. It’s important to note that Muhammad and Abu Bakr were best buds. I think that as rational and decent human beings, we can all agree that a 53 year old sleeping with a 9 year old is an absolute crime. Aisha was a victim of patriarchy, stripped from the right to having a childhood. One of the most common excuses that Muslims give about her age is that people during the prophet’s time aged differently; she was considered a woman at the age of 9 because (and this is also fiercely debated) she began to menstruate. It is in my (and many others) opinion that her menarcheal status has nothing to do with whether or not she was too young to get married. The fact that she played with toys ( as can be seen in many historical accounts) is already indicative of her psycho-developmental status. What does a little girl playing with dolls know about marriage let alone sex? Can you just imagine how terrifying (and PAINFUL) it must have been during her consummation? Also, physiologically speaking, a girl that young is not fit for sex or reproducing and this can be summed up in 2 words: obstetric fistula which according to the United Nations Population Fund is defined as “a hole in the vagina or rectum caused by labor;” most victims of fistula are young girls.

 I love howabc_12_child_bride_yemen_2_ghada_8_and_majed_25_nt_111214_ssh many Muslims talk about the sexism that existed within Arab society before the rise of Islam, specifically when they choose to mention the practice of female infanticide while ignoring child marriages. Both were atrocities. Both deserve to be criticized. Some of you may ask why the age of Aisha matters today. Her age matters because in many Muslim countries (especially Yemen), girls as young as 8 are being married off to grown ass men. Let me be clear: the notion of “consent” does not exist in such transactions. The issue of obstetric fistula is rampant in these countries! In some cases, increasing the minimum age of marriage is deemed un-Islamic. For example, when a motion was passed to move the minimum age of marriage to either 15 or 18 in Yemen, the Sharia Legislative Committee blocked it. I feel as though there isn’t enough discussion about this issue within the Muslim community because in some ways, condemning child marriages would also be a form of condemning Muhammad for his actions. It is; therefore, critical to look at Muhammad as a human not free from imperfection, because that way we can have real and critical discussions about Aisha. 

Imamhood and the Sexualization of Power


An imam, the leader of prayers in a mosque, is someone that holds great power. The imam is the all encompassing guru/judge/teacher that you go to. The imam is, in essence, the leader of the Muslim community. There is one big problem with the concept of imamhood; however, and that is that women are not afforded the opportunity to lead their community through this position of power. Essentially, women cannot become imams (except in all female settings which I will get to later in this post). For me, going to the mosque was a constant reminder of my subordinate position within the religion; being led by a man while confined to the back of a room can take a toll on one’s pride. What I hate even more about it all is the reasoning behind why women can’t become imams. Basically women are told that they can’t lead prayers because their bodies and voices are awra (something immodest that should be hidden). If a woman was to lead a prayer, her beautiful voice would be so distracting to the men that those poor souls wouldn’t be able to concentrate on their prayers. And just think about what would happen when she prostrates….her ass would be in full view! I believe that this excuse is out right bullshit. Men know damn well how to control themselves but we are using their apparent horniness to limit women’s access to power.

Like I previously mentioned, the imam is not just someone that leads a prayer, he is the leader of the Muslim community. People listen to whatever he has to say. After every Friday prayers, he gives a khutbah (speech/lecture in Arabic) to a large portion of the Muslim community. Could you imagine how much influence he has? Now imagine a woman as an imam. Think about all the things she could say in the khutbah. Think about the power she would have within the community. Now some of you would say that women are technically allowed to be imams but only if it’s in an all female environment. Yes I agree, but that means she only has access to 50% of the Muslim community. How is this fair? Ask yourself this, who is more powerful: the man that can be an imam for both genders or the woman? I think it’s time that Muslim women step up and take back their right to lead. It is time that they refuse to be sexualized and denied access to meaningful power.

50 shades of Hijab

If there is one thing that makes you stick out like a sore thumb in the Muslihijab0m community, it would be not wearing the hijab. Not a single week goes by where I don’t get stared at judgmentally by family members or asked the repetitive “sister why don’t you wear the hijab” question by the guy with the Gandalf like beard on the off campus shuttle. The most annoying thing; however, would be that most Muslims immediately assume that I don’t wear the veil  because I am ignorant of the religion or “white washed” (I hate that term). Not only is this infuriating, it is also condescending. I’ve noticed by observation that many Muslims (especially the women) don’t know THAT much about the hijab. If you asked them why they wear it, they would tell you that it is commanded by Allah in the Quran or that it is liberating. Most of the time, they don’t know what specific surahs/hadiths mention the hijab. In short, many wear it because everybody says its mandatory. They follow the status quo. I would argue that the hijab is perhaps one of the most misunderstood thing among the Muslim community.
First of all, the hijab does not actually mean “veil”. The word “hijab” in Arabic means barrier. For example, there was a hijab between Allah and Moses when they were conversing in the mountains (surah Taha 20: 9-21). I always interpreted the hijab as something spiritual that barred you from sin. It is a constant reminder of your faith and keeps you in check from committing haram acts. The khimar would be more of an appropriate label for the veil. The word “Khimar” means to cover and it is an absolutely importanSomewhere In Americat term to know if you would like to understand the origins of the hijab. The main reason why the hijab is an islamic act is because of the following verse from Surah An-Nur (24:31):

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.”

Before the arrival of this verse, women would cover their hair with the khimar but would expose their breast1438014720820920812121686021665176165137169s. This verse commands them to draw their head covers (khimar) over their bosoms and to not show anything except what should naturally appear. As you can see, this verse does not necessarily order women to cover their hair (it’s all about the boobies). It is unquestionably vague, so why is it that a lot of Muslim women cover themselves from head to toe? The answer lies with this hadith:

“Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: Asma bint Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma’, When a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. ” [Sunnan Abu Dawud 32:4092]

Like usual, the hadith clarifies the Quran except this time there is a huge problem. This hadith is inadmissible since there was a missing link in the chain of narration. It isn’t even weak! Its honestly shocking that millions of women are covered head to toe thinking it is mandatory solely based on a vague verse in the Quran and an inadmissible hadith…….
Let me take it a step farther, nowhere in the Quran is the word “hair” mentioned. If any mufti/ sheikh, Imam, or overbearing aunt out there talks to you about covering your entire body, then know that it comes from the hadith. It’s ludicrous that so much of the lives of Muslim women are governed by the hadith even though it came 250+ years after the Quran! Isn’t the Quran supposed to be the last message from God? I leave you with one question: could verse 24:31 be purposefully vague to allow women to interpret modesty according to changing times and cultures?happy