Recently, some women and girls on Instagram began a challenge where they would post a picture of themselves to their “stories”. These stories had captions, that in summary, were for girls to raise each other up and accept each other, an “empowerment” exercise of sorts. They then would tag ten of their friends to also complete the challenge. Many Muslim Sisters jumped on this bandwagon, so I ended up getting tagged in some of these stories and could not help but notice a number of factors. I would like to share these thoughts, so that girls and parents can be aware (many of these points apply to brothers as well, so please hear me out), Insha’Allah.
First, in the majority of the stories that I saw, the girls have some sort of filter or special affect applied to their face. Here I saw girls using filters to modify their faces to look slim, smooth, and unnaturally bright. How is that empowerment? If we don’t feel beautiful in our own skin without having to modify our faces with filters and photoshop, then how is that empowering? It truly disturbed me. In fact, I found it heartbreaking. How is approval through deception and illusion ever going to fulfill us? Especially when Allah SWT made us beautiful just the way we are and that beauty can only be elevated by our chastity, piety, and our submission to His Will and Pleasure, Alhamdulillah.
Yet, these Sisters were seeking the approval of each other instead of their Creator. Do we work as hard to get Allah’s approval and for His pleasure? While we doll ourselves up for the public to feast their eyes on, do we remember the One Who is always watching us, aware of all we do even in private when our parents and loved ones can’t see us, and knows each and every intention and motivation? When we seek approval and validation through these passing trends and what everyone else is doing, we set ourselves up for disappointment and rejection. But, you know Who will never reject us or humiliate us if we turn to Him with all that hope? Allah SWT. He will always Love us and Cherish us. He will keep His Promises. He will Praise us in the best of gatherings, He will put happiness and satisfaction in our hearts, and He will put genuine and sincere love in the hearts of the people for us as well, Alhamdulillah.
Our modesty is our greatest responsibility. It is not just about dawning a hijab. It is about how we behave, how we interact with each other on and offline, and what we expose about our lives. In the age of trends, stories, and toxic feminism (movements that go against our Faith and Allah’s Commands), this commitment to modesty can become difficult to swallow not just follow. I know this and this isn’t about shame. It is a reminder. It is about empowering ourselves and practicing self love in the right way. All Good comes from Allah SWT and the way of His Messenger SAW. The way of Islam is true liberation and the ultimate road to respect, strength, and the right kind of love and attention. It all begins with us and what we are willing to do for it. We all know that posting pictures, showing off our beauty, clothing, and blessings is not permitted in Islam, then why is that we make excuses? Why do we try to find loopholes in the rulings to try to do it anyways? Why are we so desperate for superficial attention? Why do we want to follow the way of the non-Muslims so diligently, but find ways to get around or delay the things that Islam calls us to? When it comes to Islam, do we never have enough time? Are we always ready to snap a picture of our most mundane activities, but fail to remember or rush through our Adhkar (du’a and remembrance of Allah in our daily acts and prayers) most of the time? These are things to think about deeply, Insha’Allah.
Looking at all the pictures, I just kept thinking of what the great women of Islam, such as Khadijah RA, Fatima RA, Aishah RA, and all the other Sahabiyat RA, would think if they came across this. Would they participate if they were tagged in these kinds of trends? Would they post their pictures online? I suppose they would be disappointed in us. Their idea of empowerment did not come from their looks or what people thought of them. Their empowerment came through their relationship with Allah SWT, the commitment they made to the Prophet Muhammad SAW, the knowledge they sought and taught of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the support they gave to their Deen, how they treated the people around them, and the legacy they would leave behind them to motivate and elevate the generations of women after them. I wonder if these girls even realized the gift they hold in their hands and how we are wasting our time and efforts chasing lowly opinions and motivations. Honestly, are we as interested in Islam and gaining more knowledge than social media sites like Instagram and popular culture? What do we spend more time on? How can we be examples for others and invite them to Islam if we look and behave just like them? Ask yourself: Are you a leader or just another follower?
I know some of these women and girls personally. They are my Sisters in Islam. I love them. When I meet them, they want to know why I am the way I am. The question of why I don’t post any pictures of myself on social media is a common one. I tell them the reasons I have mentioned in this blog. They would then tell me to create a “private” account, so that I could control who would be able to see my pictures and posts (and some even tell me to keep it a secret from my parents). “Then what’s the point?” I ask. Why post a photo that no one or a few can see? What is the motivation behind that? Although, I would like to point out here that “private” accounts are not actually so private. With this trend, I saw many girls sharing each other’s stories on their accounts, even from “private” accounts. If I could see stories from the accounts of girls I was not following, then are they really private?
Lastly, I would like to mention one of the most unsettling factors of all this. One that I don’t think many people think about when posting their photographs online. No matter if you have your pictures on a private or public account, anybody could take a hold of your pictures and do whatever they wish with them. I have read articles where pictures were saved or screenshots were taken and were used for cyber bullying to the point that the victim was so distraught that it affected their mental health, some even committed suicide. I have seen news of some evil people using these pictures to make obscene or even pornographic images/videos through face swap/deepfake softwares. Lives can be ruined through the evil of some people, so why take the risk? Think about your future, about your parents who work so hard to keep you comfortable and safe, and above all think about Allah SWT. Besides, why would we want some creepy person to have access to our pictures and look at them for hours on end (I can’t even link some of the studies I found, they are that disturbing and disgusting). When we put something on the internet, it stays forever and we cannot control what happens to it or who is using it for what purpose. I have even heard stories of Sisters’ pictures ending up on “Muslim” dating sites and in advertising, hijabs and all! And, if that isn’t enough and if you really have the heart for it, click this link and see what some people with the wrong intentions do. Here you can see what they have done with innocent peoples’ pictures. Do we want to be a victim of magic and evil eye? This might scare us, and it’s okay to feel that way, but what steps will we take to avoid this, to protect ourselves and our families?
I am asking, begging, please my Sisters, delete your pictures, and be careful of what you post. You don’t know the true intentions of people, people that you may even trust. We have to stop this, “it won’t happen to me” attitude. Who begins these trends, who are they targeting, and what are their intentions? Who knows what evil is spread through a hashtag that anyone can look up and collect data from. Think about it. Something that seems innocent, could be the beginning of a nightmare in our lives. Take a look at the story of Barsisa below and see how subtly Shaytan works in our lives and how he deceives us. With everything going on in the world today, please rectify this now before it’s too late, Insha’Allah.
Set yourself apart from the mainstream crowd. Be outstanding in your Faith and be proud. You are not just another hashtag, you are a Muslimah. Your beauty and dignity is not for everyone to look at, lust after, or judge. It is a treasure from Allah that you must protect and cherish, Insha’Allah. This technology can be a blessing if it is used in the right way by gaining knowledge through all the online resources available at our fingertips and spreading the Message of Allah SWT and Islam. We don’t need to share our pictures to raise each other up, we can do that through motivating one another to be better Muslims and stay on the right path. True empowerment comes through our relationship with Allah SWT and anyone who helps us make that link stronger is a true friend and Sister, Alhamdulillah. Many of us are examples for the little sisters of this Ummah, for their sake, we have to be careful with how we carry ourselves and what we put out there. We will have to answer to Allah for all we said, what we did, what we posted, and even for the ones who followed us and copied our ways. Are we ready for that?
Live your best life…Live for Allah SWT.
I know this is a hard post to digest, but I just wanted to get this out there, because I truly care about the Muslim girls of this Ummah. Please take some time to contemplate this ayah from the Noble Qur’an, Insha’Allah.
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not…” (The Noble Qur’an 2:216)
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