26 July 2015

A Return to The Parlour for Sherry and Cookies: A New Path




For the time being, if there was such a thing, I'm drinking the non-alcoholic variety of sherry, or perhaps just a lot of milk tea. I returned to the Queen Anne two weekends ago, and I had my last few sips (with cookies.) I had technically stopped drinking before then, but I had to make a small exception for such an occasion. My life has vastly changed and is still changing. Incredible, terrible, and wonderful things have happened, and to have lived them, I am blessed.

I am returning here because there are too many things I want to talk about that don't quite fit into Frill-Ability, but I think are worth talking about. Apparently, you want to hear about them. That is very cool! I want this to be about you, too, like when we used to do Lolita a Lolita! I talk about myself too much, and it gets boring. When one is in her head and the majority of her time is spent with three cats and a chihuahua, she might occasionally forget her social graces. By now, it is entirely possible I am more cat than human.

Lolita is a very different role in my life now as you may well already know. I still love la vie enchanteur and quaintrelle and kawaii aesthetic, but right around the point where I stopped writing here, I realized there was a hole inside of me. I couldn't write here anymore because I had too much to work through on my own. When traumatic things occur, occasionally things that once were paramount no longer take even fourth priority. That was Lolita fashion for me.

Lolita was not what I lived for. It could not be my purpose. I think I was only so obsessed as the typical "lifestyler" that I was because I was extremely disillusioned. I felt blocked from ever being a successful person. I didn't think there would ever be answers to my health, and I was in a troubling relationship.

After I left the relationship, my life crumbled. It was all I ever knew since 18 years old, and I didn't know what to do. After some rides and crashes, I started having successful runs, but I had to knead the dough of my own trials, roll around in their mud, and let all the mess I created slowly cake in the sun before I could understand what was happening. (My romantic life is both fascinating and tragic. I could write a book.)

Coming a-ways down will be something that was already posted on Facebook. I'd prefer that blurbette didn't get lost in the abyss of disorganization and lack of ability to reference past posts that is that social network thus, a repeat. The decision this post is ultimately about that I'm zigzagging around is up there with my bigger life decisions, and it could not have happened at a better time for me as I have been experiencing significant personal strife lately.

I had been getting small inklings that this was something I had to do as I spoke to Muslim individuals I knew as friends/loosely as acquaintances for some time, or admired their lives from afar online. This yearning to make a change was kept it in the back of my mind because (1) major religion hadn't done well by me in the past despite being highly spiritual, and (2) more recently, I wanted to stick to my guns with the path I had [previously] chosen. However, sometimes old friends drift away, and by divine intervention, someone new comes into your life to teach you an important lesson. Resisting this will only bring you grief, sorrow, and a missed opportunity.

When I could no longer ignore it, I started to do research to discover if...Islam...was indeed the path for me. So that it wouldn't entirely be a surprise, I slowly (1) dropped (2) hints (3). Unbeknownst to the Internet, I made the decision to wear hijab in public on this past Tuesday, July 21. I was watching some tutorials on YouTube, and this one from HijabHills inspired me to be true to what I had been feeling for so long:






and here was my very first try:
"Allahu Akbar" means "God is the greatest" in Arabic. it is a very important Islamic phrase in prayer, as I'm learning.

The scarf I was wearing is something my mother gifted me some time ago as a "normal" scarf that happened to look nice. The underscarf I was wearing is less legitimate. I was crafty. I was concealing it very well because it's not a proper one at all. It doesn't match, but it does the job. (It's like this spandex neckwarmer deal that's roughly the length and shape-ish of an underscarf, but really not the right colours or material.)

If you're following the dress code, one must follow certain rules of modesty. This is something I am choosing to do. I am now choosing to cover myself to about my wrists, my neck, all of my chest, all the way down to my ankles, not wear form-fitting clothing, and of course, cover my hair. What does this mean to me? A little more than I can articulate, but I am going to try.

Alhamdulillah, (Praise to Allah,) I am liberated. Many would think me oppressed. Instead, I am my own, and I am of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). While I will always be a sex-positive (definition: in support of enjoyable, consensual sex) person, I am pretty tired of being objectified, and I am loath to put myself in situations where I will catcalled, hit on, groped, or worse because of the way I am dressed. 

Am I the problem? No. Do I feel like other people need to make my decision? Absolutely not. Dressing modestly in this way and wearing hijab, however, makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like I have a better chance that someone might see me as a person as opposed to an object of sexual desire. My past makes me very frightened to exist in this world. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) is my knight, and my hijab is my shield. Everyday I go into battle, for my modesty, for my dignity, for my life. This is all I have.


There are those who hold beliefs that Islam is naturally oppressive towards women and anti-feminist. If you were one of those people, I hope this has helped dispel those feelings. If not, you can also read these articles (1) (2) (3) and watch the following poignant video surrounding the topics of Muslim Feminists and the hijab as a sign of feminism itself.




It wasn't very scary coming out as lesbian for the first time. (The second time to my Muslim friends, YES, but that's another story.) Coming out as Muslim and a hijabi when I barely know what I am doing. Absolutely terrifying. Allahu A'lam. (God knows best.) Luckily, there is a large Muslim population here, and plenty of resources. Right away, I ordered my first "real hijabs" online, and I went to an Islamic bookstore. There I bought books, my prayer rug, prayer beads, and one hijab and one underscarf to hold me over until the rest of them arrived.

When I went to the bookstore, the sister who worked there, ("sister" and "brother" is how Muslims refer to others within the faith,) was even more kind than I could have hoped for. She was a good teacher, a hard worker, very complimentary, and so willing to be my friend. I can't wait to go back. She even had the coolest galaxy-printed hijab. Mashallah, I'm so happy we met.
the hijab I bought that day--it's a chiffon material with roses and sparkle detail. the underscarf has multi-coloured lace.
A couple days after this, on 7/24, my package from UniqueHijabs.com arrived. By that time, I had been getting in prayer practice daily, researching more and more everyday, and I felt very secure. There was no way I was turning back. I think what solidified my faith the most was beginning to read this book that I am still working on:


It claimed that the following are the major sins. Now, some are pretty basic that one would expect out of an ancient religion, i.e. Sodomy., but others were pleasantly surprising.


By this account, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) commands you not to speak poorly of others, not to lie, not to cheat, not to be deceitful, and biggie--NO ABUSE OR FEELING HURTING. Oh, and, of course, God is your one and only homeboy; there is absolutely no cheating on Him. If you're a believer, why would you need any other deity? He has no partner, and His gifts are great! We owe Him everything. I digress, I knew that kindness and high code of conduct are what I needed to hold myself to, and now I understood why the Muslims I have met are so amazing.

I needed to be honest with the people I share pieces of my life with on a daily basis and tell them what was going on:

"...Before everything hit the fan recently, as I talked about in a previous post, I started investigating a new path religiously. This must have been divine intervention. I have needed God in the past two days very much. It seems to be perfect timing. Yet again, life turned itself upside down. It seems to be righting itself, and I think everything is going to be okay.

I used the last bit of personal money I had apart from what is set aside for monthly bills to go towards purchasing learning materials and other materials that I need to participate in this religion. It's one of the only things I'm holding onto right now.

Today, I have hope, I found a local center, and Brie and I are going to go together in the next few days. (She is not participating, just accompanying.) I'd like to see if they have adult classes. I'm currently learning how to pray properly, the proper way of dress, the core tenants, basics of language and pronunciation, and general things one must know about the way of life.

I've talked to some local Muslims in person and have been met with much warmth. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy. There is a local book store with all of the things one would ever need at very low prices, and they are very beautiful. The people who own it are wonderful.

According to sbia.net:

'One becomes a Muslim by saying, 'There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.' By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of God’s messengers.'

(http://sbia.net/about-islam/)

This is something best done in Arabic, something like the following (which I have already done in daily prayer...I need to work my way up to 5x ):

Ash hadu al laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lah,
wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh
Allaahumma salli `alaa Muhammadin wa Aali Muhammad

Bear witness that there is no god apart from Allah,
Who is unique and without partners.
I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Prophet.
O God, bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad.

so I've read, but I think the most important part is your intention, your heart, and your full submission and devotion to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala).

My choice is to convert to Islam and wear hijab. Many call it reversion because:

'Muslims believe that all people are born with a natural faith in God. According to Islam, children are born with an innate sense of God, which is called the fitrah. Therefore, some people see conversion to Islam as a 'return' back to this original, pure faith.'

http://islam.about.com/od/converts/g/revert_gt.htm

Use whichever term you wish; I honestly don't know which is better. I only know that I've been led here, and that I need to do this. I hope you support me in this decision. I cannot continue to feel sorry myself because Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) would not give me something I could not handle. His blessings are infinite, He is kind, and with boundless mercy. By following His guidance through the teachings of His Prophet, Muhammad, (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) I will come out stronger. As long as I have faith and continue to be my best person, everything will be okay."

So what is all this about? Why Islam? It has to be more than about the modesty. Don't worry, this isn't a fashion statement. (Fashion will always be fun to me, though, and I will not stop enjoying it.) This isn't a hashtag or a social media stunt. I am aware what some people think of me, but I can't worry about it.

This is the first picture that I posted on my Facebook of me in my hijab, wearing my first new jersey hijab with gold sparkles and pink "ninja" underscarf from UniqueHijab.com. They have a very large selection, low prices, and I love everything in my order!

This is about my relationship with the Divine, and Islam is how I feel most connected. I finally have a community now as well, and interestingly enough, with a blend of cultures, none of which match the two of my blood, I feel like I fit in. (There is a consensus from my new friends before they knew my ethnicity that I look Lebanese or Syrian.) I see people who look like me, and I am welcomed by all I have encountered thus far. 


I pray, and I feel love. I feel hurt. I feel everything. I let go. I surrender. When I am done praying, I am calm. It is truly magical. I used to scoff at people who would talk like this, but honestly for a little while, my anxiety goes away. When I speak to sisters and brothers and we can connect on a level that I cannot with others, I feel a joy that is indescribable. I have to hold back tears. 

I went to a social event this Friday evening at a local Muslim community center, and already, I feel like I have yet another family. They remind me of my family back home. Walking in the door, I was greeted with many smiles and "Assalamu Alaikum" or sometimes a simple "Salaam" by the passing sisters and brothers who met my eyes. Immediately after entering the main event hall and wandering towards the food area to set down the pastries we brought from the bakery, (they were devoured in seconds,) a gentleman spotted us, pulled a plate of sweets out of a bag, offered us some, and asked if we wanted to meet some good people. We gladly accepted.


This is everything I received from UniqueHijabs.com! Hijabis, I like them! Have you ordered from here before?

He led us outside, and along the way, he chatted jovially with several of his friends. It was clear that he was well-liked, and that here, most people mingle. There are many different areas inside including a workout room, prayer halls (mosques), rooms for children, classrooms, a bookstore that sells all sorts of Islamic goods, a community board with a plethora of events, an outside area with plenty of benches plus playground equipment for the children, (or adults who like to have extra fun!) and more!

Upon arrival, I felt right at home, as if in my parents' or Aunt and Uncle's kitchen. If you were sitting at the table, you were getting a plate of food, and it was delicious. There were not one, but two kinds of soup, and the most delicious tea, rice, a type of meatball, an amazing hot sauce, fresh watermelon, candy...that's just what I can remember. I tried a little bit of everything, I think, and it was amazing. 

The best part was the company. We learned about each others' lives, talked about things that mattered. I missed that. I have missed feeling connected to people. It was so refreshing to see people not holding back as much and just being family. I felt more accepted there in the first hour than I have in over six years participating in the Lolita community attending meet-ups.

The only thing I was hesitant to reveal to them is the nature of my relationship with Brie. We had been telling them we were just friends because it is very looked down upon to be LGBTQIA+ in Islam. Daughters and sons are disowned. Even in this young woman's case where her father accepted her, the rest of her family disowned her. However, the fact that organizations such as Muslims for Progressive Values exists, gives me hope. It has a comprehensive LGBTQI section here.

I could not continue to tell them we are "friends," however; that is outright lying and completely goes against my nature. It felt so wrong to be doing this. I can't keep living a lie. It's the first time in my life I've ever hidden myself since I've come out. After some solid advice from a friend and self-reflection, I began contacting the people I met. It was nerve-wracking, but I am happy to say the responses so far have been positive. All I need to to is have faith, and Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) will guide the way.

There was a special sign, even, when we first entered the building. A sister began conversation with us, explaining she was new to this particular community. She was so full of light and love. Eventually, she asked how we were related. (Many people think she is my mother or aunt...we got sister once yesterday!) My heart sunk a little when I answered the way I had been. She said nonchalantly but in this wise, matter-of-fact sort of way, "You should become one." I guess we are bad at disguising it. ;)

From now on, I'll take it interaction by interaction and see how it goes. I'll tread carefully. I realize the world is not ideal, and to survive I might have to be silent. However, perhaps as I meet people I trust, I can confide in them just as I did to my friends, and that will feel good to my heart.



Yesterday was also wonderful! Subhanallah! Brie and I had a peaceful day. We took our time getting ready, went to a music store, and went out to eat. It was a real treat because we aren't able to go out to eat as much anymore, so it's even more special when we can. There was just a sparkle in the air I couldn't explain that I'm still riding which is strange because I should be neck deep in grief.


Babby's first snow ice!I loved this place so much!
Posted by ElleJay Volpe on Saturday, July 25, 2015

I had briefly had an idea this morning to use these little sponges I had to make tiny buns in my hair to make buns in my hijab, and it worked out very well! Now I can live out that mahou shoujo life in a whole new way with a much deeper meaning. This path, I couldn't think of a better way to carry out Frill-Ability's goals as well as my own personal and spiritual goals. I'll be the Odango Hijabi, working hard for love and justice, and praying for closeness to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.) 

Let me stress one more time: getting donned in frills, rolling myself around in sparkles on pastels, and shoving tiny sponges in my hijab, while fun, is not the point. Doing good by others and myself is. I must be the change I wish to see in the world.

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has given me the power to:

-Enact positive change in the communities that are important to me. 
-Not give up until I've exhausted every possible option. 
-Create a more sustainable planet in any way I can, even if it's just in my home. 
-Hold myself accountable for my actions. 
-Learn how to be a better spender. (maybe one day actually save) 
-Learn how to be a better listener and friend. 
-Be as independent as possible, or reducing my dependence where I can. 
-Want less and love what I have before I decide to consume
-Be mindful and self-reflective 
-Step outside of my own perspective to experience things with another's senses
-Enjoy my talents and passions while sharing them with others
-Be kind and compassionate to myself and others
-Love unconditionally
-Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray

While I am now wearing a hijab, I hope this very long story lifted the veil of confusion if there was one lingering. If you still have questions, I am nearly out of words. All I have left in this moment is Peace Be Upon You, my friends. Whether or not you have faith, I hope your journey is full of love and light. 

3 comments

  1. I am so glad that you are finding something new that you can truly enjoy in the rough times you've had! And I want to add that you look absolutely adorable in your Lolita coordinate, the colors compliment each other so well! I myself have started a new path, whether or not I will decide to go the religious way is another story, but I have recently been very interested in Paganism. Best of luck to you, and I look forward to reading more of your adventures!

    Sydney xo
    Stellar Dolly

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    Replies
    1. Dear Sydney,

      Your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. You are very kind and warm hearted.

      Best wishes on your new path! When you are ready to share, I look forward to reading about it. If Paganism is right for you, I hope it brings love and light into your light. 💕

      Your style is so cute! I'll have to catch up on all your blogging!

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