Sunnah is Sexy

All day, I kept hearing this phrase. At first I tried to shut it out. How can sunnah be sexy? How can ritual, daily practice, etiquette and cultural traditions be sexy? In this day and age Muslims are considered uncool. I found myself praying in my office worried that my officemates may come in and see me draped in my black prayer outfit. It was not that I’m ashamed of it. But I’m sure it would freak them out. I remember in my first Arabic class, we had a field trip to the mosque. This sister in the class said she thought my classmates didn’t believe I was really Muslim, until they saw my transformation as I went into the mosque. When it comes to ritualized worship, I like to represent for Allah. I know I have a ton of stuff to work on, so I am not going to pretend to be self-righteous or anything. I just really dig that transformation. But clearly my non-Muslim classmates didn’t know what to do with that.

I used to wear hijab and fully cover my hair and body for five years. During that time I developed my intellect and character. When I used to cover, the sisters would dress up for women-only gatherings. It was like a miss America pageant. In fact, a lot of my friends used to joke and say I looked like a contestant. Underneath the abayas (outerwear), we’d have formal and semi-formal dresses. My hair would be whipped, make-up on point, jewelry blinging, yeah enough to catch the evil eye. Wearing hijab, however, did not mean that I was truly a modest person. Years ago, my boss told me that I was a full of contradictions: modesty and flamboyance wrapped up in one. It was something I struggled with everyday. I still do.

A lot of women I know are ashamed of their bodies. They are self conscious of some socially constructed flaw. Although I dont consider my body perfect, I enjoy mine. This is what Allah gave me. I find it aesthetically pleasing. I try not to be narcissistic but I have a healthy dose of self-love. I enjoy clothing that works with my curves, that highlights my strengths, that is appealing for either its shape, texture, and/or colors. But even as I love clothes, I like to be out of them. If I lived by myself, Id probably would walk around naked or maybe just in a thong and bra (Not very sunnah-like, I know).

Even when I did try to cover it, my sexuality was always apparent. Somebody told me I would have to conceal it all by making myself look overweight or wearing a burqa. But as much as the burqa is a symbol of oppression, my prayer outfits have a similar form (but bare-faced) offers a break from my sexuality. It is in that moment of transcendence, that I experience something extra-cool. It is an acknowledgement that embodiment is real and that in order to appreciate it, I must take a step back. That physical self is not really me, but the real me is my spirit. What people see is not really me, that is only my material self. Going through the process of self-negation in ritual worship, I find myself closer to myself. That process I find is intriguing and remarkably beautiful. Yeah, I find sunnah sexy.

Just as quickly as the thought came into my mind, it shifted into my tension filled love of Muslim men. I remember going to see Cornell West and Zaid Shakir, and my gaze was all over the place (Yeah, I have a problem lowering my gaze). It was a sea of beautiful faces. I’m close to a some brothas and I tell them they are beautiful. Their daily transformations, that process of self-negation and self-realization is inspiring. I pray for their success and hope to follow their progress and development. It is amazing to see someone grow and blossom. There’s so many beautiful brothas, and something is so captivating to me about them. It was something about the composure, the style of dress, the grooming, their smell. Maybe this is why I dont go to jumah (Friday prayer) much. Years after my divorce, I avoided being close with any Muslim men. But as time went along, I began to see them as the Other. I wanted to know what made them think, what made them tick. I wanted to know why brothas were so difficult. Why was it so difficult, when we shared the same love and worldview. I didnt want to see them as adversaries, as an Other. My friendships have helped me see them as an integral part of my identity. There is no Us and Them/ but only We. We meet our counterparts. After eight years, I miss having a counterpart, I miss being led in prayer, the late night discussions of this issue and that, the debates over fiqh (Islamic law), and working for the same cause. I look through the pain and I see how much I grew. Yeah, I love the way the brothas follow the sunnah it is sexy I’ll leave it at that, mashaAllah.


36 thoughts on “Sunnah is Sexy

  1. salaam,

    just recently found your site. Its real nice. Its funny during the last few years that I was in the Nation, whenever I saw a Muslimah fully covered I would be like, She’s hot! The bruthas thought I was crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    I don’t really have a comment, just that I thought this was a really nice post. Really thoughtful.


  3. Salaam Walaykum,

    Yes sister…I have never gotten more kind, respectful, but titilated attention from men (Muslim and non)than when I wore hijab. In fact, a drunk man on a bicycle peddled really hard to catch up to me one day as I walked down the street, covered from head to toe. He came to a quick stop, panted and said, “Sister, you are so sexy. I just had to tell you that.” And he rode off.

    It is a pleasure to have found your blog, since recently I found my way back as a believer.


  4. salam.. you were at on time an inspiration to me…yes a recent immigrant to the americas i ended up way past plymouth rock…then one day i saw you and others like Allah used to wake me up… i heard many of things about you and I am very happy to read your words…




  5. This post rang hard for me. I have/had similar problems in that hijaab had to be extremly drab for me to look like crap.Im tall and slender(ish) etc tec. Masha Allah. I dont wear abyaa anymore.Im the sista that wears whatever I feel good in and a hijaab and I know it aint right but its what I like and right now thats enough….Im loving your blog. What were you thinking about looking outside of that window? Waiting for that special “Other”?


  6. salaams sis,

    i’ve been reading a couple of blogs lately and I feel I’ve learnt a lot about my bro/sis, and how diverse they are mashaaAllah. if you don’t mind me asking, are you from NOI and what made you give up the hijaab in public?


  7. Salaams,
    No, I’m not from NOI. Is there anything that indicates that I’m in NOI, besides my ethnicity as an African American woman?

    I had multiple reasons for taking it off. The first and foremost was that I had to work to support myself after my divorce. I struggled for years wearing it and I couldn’t have worked at most of my jobs as a waitress, as a receptionist, and retail sales. I worked those jobs and put myself through school. I know sisters who hold it down with hijab. But I was just plain tired and burnt out. Second, I found myself feeling more pressure from outside than inside to wear it. It felt like shirk wearing it in order to gain the respect of others who focus on outward actions. I don’t believe there is compulsion in religion, so while certain things are obligatory if one does not fulfill them because of weakness or lapses I do not believe that invalidates one’s faith. I personally believe that few yards of cloth is a minor struggle when compared to those giant inner battles. But I respect sisters who wear it for the right reasons. Even for those who wear for identity politics or to gain praises of others, I support them because I know it’s hard.


  8. salaams sis,

    no you said nothing that indicates you might be from NOI, it’s was just reading what muhammad said above that made me ask you, sorry about that. please forgive me for asking but bcause you commented on the hijaab, and not wearing it accept for prayer made me want to ask, forgive me please.

    nice blogg very intellectual


  9. A salaamu aleikum Sister,
    One of the earliest forms of da’wah i ever received was simply the sight of a Muslimah in modest clothes and hijab, while waiting on a subway platform. It made such an impression on me. A few years later I decided I wanted to be a Muslim (without really knowing what that meant). A few years after that, I found myself dressed just as she had and alhamdulillah I came to that state without any compulsion.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog, sister ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’d love it if you visited mine!


  10. Salam Sister,
    wow, this post really got to me. mainly because, i know many Musli women who wish to not wear the hijab. that’s fine with me. though, i cover fully and circumstances make it easy to do, alhamdulillah, i agree with you when you say that not following something that is obligatory does not nullify your faith.
    the fact that you say that hijab is obligatory indeed sets u apart from the sisters i know who do not wish to obeserve hijab and at the same time go around telling everyone that it is not necessary to cover. that is just blatant ridicule of the religion!

    for waht is worth, i’m happy you’re building up your inner strength and beauty. that’s important for any Muslimah. insha’Allah one day u will be ready to observe hijab again. it is really beautiful, it really is!


  11. It’s a second post I read from you. Unfortunly I speak not good english; I would like to understand all words and all idea you want to communicate; i agree with you that sunnah is sexy. Now we can to see all part of woman body, we feel any thing, but if she wear hijab, woman save her beauty;
    Good luck


  12. a womans beauty is something from within. if a woman is beautiful inside it will show on the outside by the blessing of allahs noor! embrace ur body and luv it and allow urself 2 be sexy, but sunnat is not sexy it is pure, beautiful and flawless. just as every woman is!! may allah bless us all!!



  13. This is a really honest post and thoughtful. It must be hard to be so honest with yourself. Many of us have not reached this place. MashaAllah. I commend you for that.
    May you go far in your spiritual journey. Amin.


  14. Some of what you said really resonated with me. I don’t wear hijab myself (well, hardly ever) but I love to see the beautiful sight of other sisters who look so fine in hijab, and I’m always filled with respect for them. I feel drawn to their company and want to be their friend, but a certain alienation, brought on by fear that they’ll reject me because I’m not pious enough, gets in the way of sisterhood.

    I do wear it to pray salat, and just like you said, when I’m enveloped in a long loose dress and a big shawl, it helps so much to calm my mind and focus on salat– I experience it as enclosing a private sacred space where I can be alone with Allah. Those are the best moments of my life. Even if other Muslims don’t accept me as I am, I feel happy knowing that Allah is always there to comfort my loneliness. For me, wearing hijab means a special private time with just me and Allah.


  15. As Salaamu Alaikum,

    I’m another African-American woman, that converted to Islam last year. I’m not fully convinced on hijab yet – but Allah knows best. In the meantime I wear it to be respectful and not cause distress in the Muslim families I visit – who are mostly immigrants and are VERY strict on the matter. I feel confident in it, and also “sexy”. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t mind wearing it until I find the truth for myself. I want to be respectful of the immigrant families that are helping me learn the basics of Islam. May Allah bless them.

    Thanks for blogging – I kept searching online for ANYTHING that was African-American muslimah, and not NOI. There sure are slim pickings.. I subscribed to Azizah magazine and noticed that there were black women that didn’t cover their necks, and it got me thinking, “There must be Something Else out there…” But it’s hard to find.

    Thanks again.


  16. Sister Salina, if you are referring to African style headwraps, that is your heritage and why not be proud to dress that way, why does everything have to be all Saudi Arabian? Saudi ain’t Islam, it’s just Arab!


  17. Its funny when I think about it I stopped wearing hijab and I did it for a while but I really started feeling naked I couldnt belive I accually missed it so after a while I started back wearing it and then I felt like I was finally being me again I love how it shows people Im a Muslim and people who are Muslims recognized me and they salaamed me when they saw me and then people give me free stuff too because they recgnized me as being one but I think If more people knew Islam was the truth and more woman wore hijab then we wouldnt feel so funny about wearing it because we seem to stick out like a sore thumb and all but I did notice even though I wear it, It still didnt stop me from getting play but just the opposite now men feel Im what there looking for modesty and woman really think if there naked they get the attention but yea they do but the men dont keep them cause they cant trust them but me they want me bad cause Im muslim and Im like wow but anyway let us slip away to the subject one fully covered veiled woman told me that I was too beautiful so I must wear the face veil and I told her my husband he too beautiful and I thought if I wore the veil then he should wear the veil too what do you think about the veil? I told her the lady if she could tell me where at in the Quran that it said we absolutely must I would but she couldnt do it cause its not there and futhermore if woman having problems just covering their heads such as you they dang sure aint covering their faces
    but some do dont get me wrong I think thats beautiful too but I feel personally Im covering my body and hair but face uhhh I deffinately aint feeling that one. But My advice to you is this its your body do what makes you comfortable cause I know I sure do and I thought I read in the Quran maybe ill check exactly where and come back and tell the sura but anyway it went a little something like Allah Swt is going to judge us not by our outter but our Inner and our Devotion to salah and if whe truly
    were faithful with our love for him and that we were the believers and that we were good and didnt do evils so any way I might not have quoted that exact but you get the message and since your not wearing the hijab just remain Modest they can look but they cant touch thats whats important anyway right?


  18. we should please our lord and follow the rules of the quraan and sunnah and our sister should be like the umm ul kitaaab who were the best women of mankind, you may feel that you are comfortable with your body, but isnt this just shaitans whisper telling you this? we as muslims should pledge allegience to allah and not to our desires and the whispers of shaitan. if i am wrong pleaase correct me inshallah

    jazakallah khair


  19. whatever Allah has decreed and His slave and meesenger the noble prophet Muhammed (saws) did is NATURAL for humanity and best for the believers.
    this is why it might be ‘sexy’ to us, only because this is is our natural feelings and how our fitrah makes us feel.
    Regardless of what any female thinks, i will never shave off my beard INSHA’ALLAH, and i will never have my pants below my anles (isbaal) as long as i can help it, INSHA’ALLAH…
    and so long as she is living, a woman should NEVER uncover her head, unless she is with her direct family, husband, sons, and father, etc.
    for a muslim woman to have covered for five years and then uncover herself is an ABSOLUTE SHAME, you should really find ways to increase your imaan and have more taqwa…
    i suggest GAINING MORE KNOWLEDGE, this always keeps us humble to the Decree of ALLAH swt, as soo many of our pious salaf sisters have done in the past, seeking knowlegde is obligatory, for one cannot act unless he/she has proper knowlegde


  20. ‘ONLY NATURAL A MAN WEARS HIS BEARD’, Mate, you know, most of the people that say that are always stumped when you ask them of men who NATURALLY don’t have facial hair, what are these guys supposed to do, and then you kinda realize, hey maybe the world aint so black and white


  21. Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rahim
    Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu
    Nice article sis, Mashallah! … Though I don’t understand something: Why do u have to use “black woman”? We are all brothers and sisters in Islam, the colour of our skin doesn’t matter. All converts have the same problems, no matter if they are black or white.


  22. Pingback: Burka Uncovered: Because Less is More When Blue-Toothed Enabled — HeyBeUs

  23. As Salamu Alaiqum,

    Sister, Thank you for your candor regarding wearing the hijab. Much of what you said resonated with me. I wear hijab, but I must admit that I bristle at the emphasis some sisters or communities placed on wearing abaya, or jilbaab. Since when did such styles become the mandated “islamically certified” dress. The beauty of Islam is that it spread across many countries and each has it’s own interpretation of modest islamic attire. I tire of seeing new converts pushed into jilbaabs, abayas and shalwar kameez, all are lovely fashion traditions but may not be the right fit for sister from other different ethnic backgrounds.


  24. as asalaam alaikum!

    Hey sis!!!! I just came across you blog, this is the second piece I’ve read from you. I really enjoy it! I’m not a “practicing” Muslim right now, don’t know if I ever will be, but I still love to read/hear from/talk to muslimahs from all over the world. Look forward to reading more from u!


  25. Sunnah is sexy! that sounds immoral, but to be frank I am always delighted when ever I saw a sister in complete jalbab, it makes her look very decent and not having a chance of been molested. keep it up may Allah reward you.


  26. Assalaamu Alaykum , Sister I wanted to comment on this post for a while, I just did not have time to think about what I needed to say to you. When I reverted to Islam I joined a Muslim comunity where the majority of women covered from head to toe and wore a veil where onle the eyes were shown. When I first became Muslim I did not go to the Masjid at first it was not until I was married that I went. I so loved going to the Masjid but I did notice that on Juumah sisters who did not cover were looked at with suspicion and because of my association with some sisters I felt that I could not be friends with someone who did not cover as I did. My family and I had conversations about this. I realize that I was wrong for acting that way, now when a new sister comes to the Masjid I don’t shun her or look at her with suspicion I embrace her and introduce her to other sisters. Covering as I do does not make you more righteous. However it is a protection for us women in this dunya. I actually had a sigh of relief when I first put on my jilabab and head scarf, Men did not look at me as much, my body anyway, then when I married my husband asked that I wear the veil, at first I wore it because I wanted to be a good wife but as I learned more I wear it to please Allah. I found that men looked at me less with the veil, I really feel covered and I would feel self conscious not wearing it. I will make dua for you, may Allah make it easy for you to cover, you are an attractive woman and I want for you as I want for myself. I never liked to be looked at I was and I am still shy about my beauty Meshallah. I am aware that many sisters feel that they have to abandoned their hijab to earn a living. Our Lord orders us to cover if we do otherwise we are following our own desires. Aishah may Allah bring peace and blessings upon her would slide against the walls when a man would pass her on the street. Subhanallah I pray that Allah makes me as righteous as her. Please ignore the whisperings of the Shaytaan. Here is a video link I am commenting to encourage you that is my intention. I love you for the sake of Allah. May Allah make us better than we are and may Allah increase our knowledge, may He increase our taqwa Amin
    Wa Allaykum Salaam Wa Rahmantu Allayhi Wa Barakatuhu


  27. how can you possibly refer to islam and sunnah as sexy. do you even know what your saying? you are contradicting everything the sunnah teaches about sexuality and hijab and these imbeciles are posting blogs thinking you are so pious and honourable. i am not perfect but i wouldnt try to brainwash the sisters that ARE on the right path i think i agree with Abu Abdur Raheemo, what a shame-


  28. Subhanallah, as muslims we should really try and think and investigate about what another person is saying before we tear them down and condemn them. When I was a teenager and went to the masjid, although I was completely caught up in this american teens dunya of television, music and movies…there was one thing that I thought was so sexy and that was seeing muslim brothers praying or reciting quran. When you grow up in the west and evil is everywhere, you become fascinated with purity and good which is the sunnah…so when sisters are saying sunnah is sexy, it can be misinterpreted….I dont think watching a dirty movie sexy is the kind of sexy the sister is talking about. Your words and what comes out of your mouth is all you have and it can be very powerful, you never know how negative comments might affect another person….you might make someone who is coming closer to Allah run away….and yes that is a sign of weak imaan, but why contribute to that? compassion people, look it up


  29. As salaam wa lakium,
    You say a lot of things that sisters are thinking.
    I can always respect a person when I know where they stand. You took a real stand.


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