Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Inspires you?

Meet Mona! She is the beauty and the brains behind Modern Hejab

Hi Mona, isn't she pretty! Mashallah 

Mona doing her thing!

Mona and I got to chat about what inspired her to start her own business. You can read it for yourself in her own words. 

“What inspired you to do that?” A common question posed to the creators, developers and dreamers of the world.  I suppose I have been inspired many times in my life. Each time it stemmed from a different place. It was either, a deep place within me, force acting upon me or a combination of both. Wherever the inspiration came from, it was strong enough to influence a change in my life. I am often asked why I decided to start an online hijab store when I already had a career as an elementary school teacher.  Why would I step so far out of my expertise?

 Honestly, I did not realize I was building my business while it was happening. It was kind of an accident. In teacher terms, it is like starting an assignment with a pretty good idea. You work on it carefully but you are just looking at the functional concept of the assignment and getting it done on time; no extras. Then you keep working on it, adding a little here and there. Next, a friend or family member sees you working and starts to give you ideas and guidance. Finally, to your surprise you have this incredible A+ assignment that you cannot wait to show off to the world.  That assignment for me was Modern Hejab.

I should back up enough to tell you about what first got me to this “assignment”. I started wearing hijab in December of 2008. My decision to wear hijab came after a great deal of internal exploration. I had taken a great deal of time and care to understand where I belonged in the large Muslim world. I had begun to ask questions to understand my religion beyond its pillars. I wanted to understand what it really meant to be a Muslim. Although I was a born Muslim, it always puzzled me that the concept choosing to be a Muslim was foreign to almost everyone I knew. Why would you choose to be something you already are? My desire to be a Muslim or not was never a question. It was deeper than that. I wanted to make a conscious decision to be a Muslim so I would live it, breathe it and represent it to the best of my ability. I made sure I was 100% convinced of Islam and all that being a Muslim was. I was ready now to put my faith forward for the world to see. I was ready to wear my hijab as helmet as a proud and dedicated soldier of my God and my religion. I knew that I would be dodging words and comments like I had seen my mother do numerous times. I had seen her criticized and questioned about every aspect of her faith, yet she never wavered nor ever doubted what she believed in. I wanted to do the same.

Of course the choice to wear hijab was a journey on its own! I, like many other 22 year olds was vain. That’s the most honest way of saying it.  I liked my hair and I was not ready to cover it up. I didn’t want to change the way I dressed. Unfortunately, to add to my vanity, I hadn’t seen enough examples of mohajabat that dressed well and took care of themselves. I thought I had to be frumpy and I couldn’t have fashion and faith at the same time. “Fashion” and “Muslim” were not two words often, or ever for that matter used in the same sentence.  I simply didn’t have enough role models to show me that I could still be me, and be true to my faith. After spending endless amount of time, going into my mother’s room, putting on the hijab, walking around the house, then putting it back, I asked myself: “Why do I keep taking it off?”. Knowing the fears I had and the hesitation I experienced in starting to wear hijab, I knew that I was surely not alone. Whatever fears I had, other young women had too and I wanted to find a way to bring together fashion and faith.

Thus began the journey to start to Modern Hejab. Initially, it was just going to be a small basement business. I wanted to encourage and inspire other young women to wear hijab. I wanted them to see the beauty and freedom that hijab offers. I wanted them to see how their faces would glow when showcased in a lovely scarf. I wanted them to see how Allah makes us more beautiful with our hijab because all you can see is our faces, no other distractions. 

Like any assignment, it started small; very basic. Then, with some time, and passion and lots of help, it grew little by little to encompass more than I could ever have imagined. I never pictured myself making hijab tutorials, although I had watched hundreds of them. I never pictured myself doing radio or newspaper interviews, although I always admired the strong women who did.  I thank God every day for bringing me this assignment. For like most assignments; you learn the most when you least expect to. It’s a matter of keeping your heart and mind open for all the possibilities and remember to take a few risks too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Summer Detox

We are back at home from our week away. It was refreshing and relaxing but we missed all things Canadian. With the hustle and bustle of every day life one can easily forget the passing of this season. Summer is transitioning into fall and rain pours itself onto the trees, grass and roads. Today the clouds teased us but there was no rain in sight. We trek up a hill  and nestle into the freshly cut grass. We hear the birds chirp away, the crowd cheer for the soccer players below us. We pull out our brushes, paper and paint away for hours on end.

How does your family detox from a busy summer?

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