When I mentioned to friends that my next trip was to Egypt, more often than not conversation somehow always turns to the uncomfortable feeling most westerners get with the way Middle Eastern women dress. Having lived for many years in Saudi Arabia, I always wondered whether I may be slightly biased in my acceptance of it. I’ve grown up surrounded by women in black abayas, in beautifully draped headscarves, some with veils across their faces… was growing up with it as the norm the reason I don’t understand their perception of them?

I’ve been thinking a lot about women’s rights over the last few weeks and I’ve realised that no, I’m not biased at all. I am simply in a position of better understanding. I don’t mean that in a patronising way, but simply that as a Muslim myself I have had insight alongside my life experience, so I thought maybe it was time I tried to dispel a few myths.


Modesty in Islam

Before we get cracking I want you first of all to push aside any preconceptions you may have regarding your opinion on certain countries, cultures or governments – what I am going to talk about here is the practice of modesty in Islam. And in its essence it’s really, really simple.

The book of Islam, the Qur’an, has written:

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their chests and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers…” [continuing list of others whom women are exempt from covering] Qur’an 24:30-31

I think the first thing to note here is that the mention of modesty applies to both men and women. There is nothing in this quote, or anywhere else for that matter that is implying in any way that women are to dress differently because they are the lesser sex. Because they are inferior. It’s nothing to do with them being pushed aside, being told to stay home or to be kept in the dark. In fact if you study the history of Islam there are many, many strong independent women who play crucial roles in the times of our sacred Prophet (Pbuh). In fact many of the women in his life were active members of the community and modesty was never confused with disappearing from the social, political, economic or even military departments.

All over the world there are millions of Muslim women who have made a conscious decision to dress modestly, not for their culture, not for a man, but for themselves. To feel closer to God. Many of these women have managed to excel professionally in many fields of work, whilst upholding their values of modesty. There are thousands of women in the UK alone who choose to wear headscarves and this number grows every day, women who are wanting to show their devotion to God and for some its as much an outwardly expression of their faith as it is an inner.

Now i’m not a religious scholar so I’m not going to go into the details of what modest dress entails and what its requirements are, because these are interpreted differently depending on the adherents school of thought. But the main point to note, is that modesty is something that is down to the individual. It is not something Muslims do for others – it is something Muslims should do for themselves.


A woman’s right to modesty

These days modest dressing is increasing in popularity, and not just for Muslims. In some instances modest dressing has become a way to empower women, a way of ensuring they are known for who they are, to not be judged by their beauty or how they look. In some cases its a tool to help them be taken seriously, a show of level pegging and a way of demanding respect. I’m not saying that not dressing modestly does the opposite of these things, but merely pointing out reasons why women I know who are not followers of Islam choose to cover their bodies. Their reasons for wanting to dress modestly are just as valid and just as powerful as women who choose not to.

‘Modest fashion’ is a growing market, it’s become increasingly popular over the last few years, with many female Muslim icons leading the way, such as Blogosphere cover girl Dina Tokio. Last year I attended the very first London Modest Fashion Week at the Saatchi Gallery, organised by Haute Elan – a great success and an event attended not just by Muslim women.



Some women interpret modesty not as a way of dressing, but as a way of conducting their mannerisms. Let’s not forget modesty is a character trait, one that is considered flattering and again not just exclusively for women. It’s a principle of being unassuming and moderate, but not invisible.

There are times when it’s an issue of self consciousness, what if a women does not want to show her body? What then? Do we automatically assume she is being forced to cover? What if it’s a fashion statement? With an intense spotlight cast onto our gender the reasons women choose to dress modestly are vast.


Respecting cultures and traditions

Because of the so-called ‘freedoms’ most of us believe we have in the West, it’s very easy for us to judge other places where the rules of what is and isn’t socially acceptable aren’t what we’re used to. But to put it quite bluntly, we cannot apply the principles of western european secularism to other countries whose entire cultural tradition is completely different. It’s simply not a fair comparison. And even where secularism is prevalent, there are still unwritten rules and expectations as to how women should dress themselves, when going for a night out for example.

If we aren’t citizens of a particular country who may expect modest dressing, then yes have an opinion, discuss your grievances but it’s not our place to be making a stand against their rules and regulations because we don’t feel it’s right. There are proper avenues to vocalise dissenting opinion and I encourage everyone to look into local organisations and groups that can help support causes where you feel women, or anyone else for that matter, are being oppressed or discriminated against because of an imposed dress code.

However as visitors to a country where the customs are to dress in a certain way, out of respect for the citizens it is our duty to comply. This is purely an issue of common human decency and respect.

Take Indonesia for example, a Muslim country where there is no dress code but there are many beautiful women of all ages who choose to wear hijabs and cloaks. They’re different to those in the middle east, known as jilbabs but nevertheless they do the same job. What they wear doesn’t stop them being who they want to be. They’ll still be all over facebook, they’ll still want to take and share selfies, they still find ways to demonstrate their individuality, it doesn’t stop them being themselves. I even noticed it here in Egypt, I watched a group of young girls some with bejewelled burqas, others in jeans and tshirts with long hair left loose and perfectly styled, dancing along the banks of the Nile, laughing, playing and having just the best time together.

In 2015 a story hit the headlines about a group of backpackers who stripped naked atop a Malaysian mountain, going against the requests of their guide not to do so. I remember feeling incredibly sad for the local communities there, who held this site as sacred and probably felt they were being mocked, what an offensive way to treat your hosts. I’ve heard all the arguments for their cause, but the bottom line is there was a specific requirement to wear clothing and this was purposely disobeyed for no other reason than entertainment. To be quite honest, I can’t understand why individuals would go out of their way to upset others just because they believe in something you don’t. I’ve previously discussed how the ultimate definition of specifically targeting someone with intention to hurt them, either physically or emotionally is in fact an act of terrorism.


The concept of freedom of choice.

Ah yes, freedom of choice. Before you assume that I am naive in my outlook on the world, I one hundred percent acknowledge that there are countries where women are not given the right to choose what they wear out in public. And I mentioned above that there are organisations and local groups around that you can speak to regarding helping to change these issues, only if change is necessary of course.

My whole reason for writing this post is to bring to light that although many, many westerners choose to judge and criticise these countries on their treatment of women, if they look upon Muslim women in their own countries they are treating them with the same level of disrespect. Banning headscarves in public buildings, schools, bullying those who wear them, outlawing burkinis (modest swimwear – basically a wetsuit) on beaches and at swimming pools.

I’m often faced with the ironic argument that we are not an Islamic country, we are Christian, yet there are members of the Christian faith who also cover their hair and where modest dress, orthodox, coptic, nuns? Some jewish women also follow certain criteria for dressing – again that includes hair covering. Sikh men wear turbans, Buddhists ask that you cover arms and legs before entering temples… and these are just a few examples of other religions who believe in the principles of modesty. Ever seen a painting of the Virgin Mary without a headscarf for example? There’s very few. Royalty are also advocates of modest dressing, they may not wear long cloaks or cover their hair but there is a certain standard of dressing they are expected to abide by as a mark of respect to the establishment they represent and it applies to both men and women.

So why has the problem of dressing modestly all of a sudden become a problem when its Muslims? When it comes to clothing, is freedom of choice here in the West purely for women who are not Muslim?

A few years ago I watched a scene unfold on the news which I never believed I would ever see. A group of armed policeman on a public beach in Nice, standing over a Muslim woman who was there with her children, modestly dressed in a long sleeve shirt and leggings being asked to remove her top. The beach was full, there were plenty of people around and the majority of them supported his decision to make this woman strip against her will. Right there with everyone watching.



I don’t care what you believe. I don’t care what you think of Muslims or any other religion for that matter. But for this woman she had chosen not to show her arms, she was being forced to strip against her will and fined too. Forget everything else you know about her. I ask you to just think as a woman, as a person, how would that have made you feel? How is that freedom of choice? Where’s the liberté and egalité in that? In this instance she wasn’t even wearing a burqa, she just happened to be wearing long sleeves, so was it the headscarf that was against the rules? It’s funny that oppression is frowned upon in a religious country but it appears secular oppression is perfectly acceptable.

Yes I am fully aware that I’ve mentioned this before, but the image of this scene is burned into my memory, as it should be with every person who believes that the West fully invests in women’s rights. The thought that this woman, a member of our global sisterhood, was put through public humiliation, bothers me deeply. And this is not an isolated incident by any stretch, there are many examples of women being forced to remove clothing and headscarves in public, I know of instances where its happened where I am in the UK.

There is plenty of discussion about the degradation of women in society, the whole Hollywood harassment fiasco and even men in politics and now charitable organisations are being pulled up on their treatment of women. So why is dressing modestly as a Muslim woman such an issue? Perhaps if we’re all completely honest, maybe it wouldn’t be, if we removed the word Muslim?? It’s very easy for us to sit here and point fingers at other countries for their so-called treatment of females but I would argue that the problems we face here are simply the other side of the same coin.


As we celebrate 100 years of women having been given the same rights of suffrage as me and all the freedoms they have fought for and won, I want to highlight that the struggle isn’t completely over until we act in the interests of ALL women, and not just when it serves a hidden political agenda.

This years International women’s day campaign is all about #PressforProgress: to not be complacent, to press forward and to progress gender parity. A strong call for us to act and be gender inclusive. I hope by defining the religious reasoning behind modest dress, by reminding us of our ability as humans to be inclusive and respectful, I have helped change the angle from which Muslim women are usually portrayed and to shed a bit of understanding on an issue which causes controversey from both sides.


I stand proudly with my sisters today and every day. Of all faiths, of all colours.

I stand with all of womankind.


Dedicated to all the strong women in my life, who have at some point been attacked either physically or verbally for the way they dress.






I love taking part in blogger story type posts, as it always nice to take a step back and write about something different. So when Eventbrite started Hometown hunt and asked people to talk about their favourite local gems well it got me thinking about mine. Most people who took part in this project spoke of quirky little restaurants, cafe’s, tea rooms… but when I think of my local haunt, well it’s a little different. A little bigger.

I am fortunate to live in the wonderful region known as Greater Manchester. Fortunate enough to live no more than 15 minutes from the city. And a mere ten minutes from Trafford – home to Old Trafford stadium (not so lucky about that one), Old Trafford cricket ground, The Trafford Centre and Eventcity.

And it is Eventcity that I choose as my favourite spot. I know, it’s a large brash exhibition venue plonked right next to the one of the busiest centres in Manchester but its on my doorstep! And these days, I find myself there on a regular basis. As a venue it is so versatile.

If you’re ever looking for something to do over the weekend, the chances are something is definitely happening there! I wrote some time ago about the problems I sometimes have when thinking of things to do in the city, there are times when I seem to draw a blank. That’s the best thing about Eventbrite, it provides a comprehensive list of what’s on, and it doesn’t just advertise the really big headliners. It gives smaller businesses a platform to organise ticketed events without having the drama of setting up online ticket sales. And for us ticket-buyers, it collects said events into one spot.

For example in just two clicks I can pull up everything that’s happening in Manchester this weekend!



Have you got anything planned? no?

Well holding top spot on the list for Halloween weekend is the amazing Muslim Lifestyle Expo being held at yup, you guessed it, Eventcity, Trafford Park. This is the UK’s biggest event showcase of the Muslim consumer market and is expected to attract thousands of visitors this weekend.

Don’t be fooled by the name, this isn’t just for Muslims, the show is open to everyone and is a great insight into one of the most peaceful and beautiful religions of the world – one that gets a LOT of bad press!

This event is a fantastic opportunity to meet and shop everything from fashion to holidays. The event will feature over 100 exhibitors from sectors including finance, food and drink, health and beauty, media.




Manchester Art Gallery will also take part by providing a workshop on Islamic arts and showcase Islamic artefacts over the weekend, which sounds incredible! The interactive Expo will also feature a live catwalk and comedy by British Muslim comedians like Aatif Nawaz and BBC Three’s very own Guzzy Bear.

Safe to say, there’s going to be a lot going on!! There are some top bloggers attending – look out for them! I believe they’ll be wearing a bloggers pass, and you know how friendly us bloggers are 🙂

Word of advice, get your tickets online before you go, the price on the door will be more expensive (standard).

hmm ok I seem to have side tracked… basically with websites like MEN, Manchester Confidential, Whatson Manchester. there really is no excuse to miss out on things, but I would definitely add Eventbrite in there as you will find some truly amazing intimate events being held right on your doorstep. And if you’ve got ants in your pants like I do, there’s nothing worse than not finding something fun to do!

This weekend I’ll be back at my usual spot at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo and then in a few weeks I’ll be returning for the Ideal Home show (more on that to come! check out my tips from the last one). I’ve been to gaming expos, baking shows, renovation exhibitions, they even have almighty fitness session when Les mills comes to town.

So if you’ve got tickets for this weekend, awesome! might see you there 😉 If not, well there’s still time to buy some and then awesome! I’ll see you there 😉


What’s your favourite hometown spot?


As always all opinions and views on here are all mine and mine alone – but the Muslim Lifestyle Expo pic is not!




Last night, many Muslims all over the world received the exciting news that Ramadhan had started. I had spent the majority of the weekend having a spring clean in preparation; Mo went and braved the supermarket to stock up the cupboards and we spent an evening discussing plans and goals and catching up with friends, knowing that once fasting starts, our priorities will be elsewhere.

So, now its here! And every year without fail, we get asked pretty much the same questions… which by the way, is great, people should always ask questions! Muslims have a pretty hard time in the press these days so the more people ask questions, the more we can help change the perception of our religion.

I thought I’d try and answer some of the most common:


What exactly is Ramadhan??

Ramadhan is a month in the Islamic calendar, its the ninth month and considered to be the holiest one of them all.

The Holy Book of Islam, the Quran, was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and its a time when every good deed is multiplied and every prayer is that bit more special.


What is fasting?

As a Muslim, there are five pillars of our religion which are compulsory – fasting is one of them.

The word Fasting in Arabic, “sawm” means to refrain. So during daylight hours, between sunrise and sunset, no food or drink is to be consumed. Not only food and drink, but any actions or behaviour that is bad for you or your soul such as smoking, back-biting, foul language etc.

For those of us in the UK, we stop eating at about 3am and we break fast at half 9 at night (there are exact timings but it differs very slightly depending on your region). So that’s around 18 hours in total!


Why do we fast? What’s it all for?

Although the act of fasting is physical one, it’s actually a mental challenge more than anything. Fasting shouldn’t mean you retreat from daily activities, lock yourself at home and sleep all day. The whole purpose is to understand patience, endurance and through feeling a small sample of what the less fortunate in this world have to go through, it should increase our generosity.

It’s a month of reflection, one to discover yourself without having to travel anywhere and a time to share and celebrate with others. Every night the mosques will host the Tarawih prayers, which will see them overflowing in most cases as men and women take advantage of spending more time as a community, praying in congregation.


When is it? Why does it change?

As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the date shifts slightly every year. The month of  Ramadhan starts on the sighting of the crescent moon.


No food and no drink?!? Surely that’s bad for you?

Well no, not really. We are still eating and drinking every day and so as long as we eat healthily and drink plenty of fluid, its all good.

In fact, many doctors have spoken about the benefits of fasting. After a few days your body starts to break down toxins, so the whole process is like a detox (provided you’re not feasting on unhealthy dinners).

Anyone who is sick or has medical issues is not expected to fast, in fact it is discouraged. Our religion is all about looking after yourself physically, mentally and spiritually – so if fasting is somehow doing your body harm then you shouldn’t be doing it.



Today, is day one and although the hunger and thirst has not been an issue, the small task of trying to stay awake has been very challenging, especially since this heat wave decided to drop in! The last part of the day was pretty tough, but I’ve survived.

Luckily, I managed to get a number of blog posts finished beforehand, but you may find the blog looks a bit sparse this month, not just because working full time whilst fasting will have me pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but I’d also like to savour my free time and use it to learn more about Islam.

So if you’re a brother/sister who is fasting this month, stay strong! And embrace it – I’ll be trying my best to.

If you’re not, but know someone who is, wish them a Happy Ramadhan or say ‘Ramadhan Mubarak’ – translates as have a blessed Ramadhan, it’ll mean a lot to them.

I know a lot of people feel bad eating, drinking, even discussing food in front of someone who is fasting, but the majority of us Muslims have been doing this for years (I started when I was early teens) so yes our tummies might be a lot more vocal over the next few weeks, but this is the one month where our minds can overpower it. So don’t worry, personally I still like to talk about what I’m having for dinner (albeit my dinner will probably be four hours after yours!).

You will find some of us don’t like getting too close this month – one word – halitosis. We know it, we get it, we can’t help it. I usually find my hands get a lot busier when I communicate to try and minimise the amount of talking I do.

It’s now getting pretty late and I’ve only got a few hours before I’m up again so I suppose I should try and sleep.

Once again Ramadhan Mubarak! I wish you all the best in this blessed month 🙂


Please feel free to fire any other questions in the comments below, I’ll try my best to answer, or at least find someone who can.

If you’re a Muslim blogger, let me know if you’re writing about fasting, I’d love to read how you’re doing!


After 30 days of fasting, today Muslims all over the world will be celebrating Eid ul Fitr.

Ramadhan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and is a time for Muslims to purify body and mind. With Islam constantly being referenced in the media at the moment, it’s been all the more important for us Muslims to show the right side of our religion. View Post