I am not singing the chorus of that T.I. and Rihanna’s hit single. I am basically reiterating how I wish my wonderful sisters lived their everyday lives. The headlines are filled with negatives of being Muslim and being a hijabi; this is not for the faintest of hearts, especially people living in Muslim minority areas. It makes sense understanding what the tension is all about, and most importantly there is need to understand that the war is between good and bad people. Islam is wholesome, it explains to humankind how to live and deal with grievances.

Someone just joked about women like me being used as suicide bomber and how  I am not excused; I told the person that I’m a well educated and knowledgeable Muslim woman with  career goals and aspirations like every other human being on earth. Just because I choose to identify with my religion, I get called the B word? I am inundated by the day with similar tales of how being a Muslim and even hijabi is being stereotyped negatively, and I have come to the conclusion; my dear sisters - LIVE YOUR LIFE!

1. Live life and live it in the most exemplary way. As a woman, I never see any other human being as better or more opportuned than myself. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, but I have chosen to mint a platinum spoon for myself and with Allah’s rahmah, Alhamdullilah. There are some things I cherish and I’ll like to offer them as advice to my fellow sisters. Have absolute faith in Allah (SWT), seek knowledge, practice Islam meaningfully, be well educated, and if it’s a vocation you wish to pursue, aspire to be the best around. No mediocrity. No half measures. Develop yourself professionally, and in all manners possible, even if you end up in the glorious school run rut, it’s all for the better.

2. Live well and be good to all around. Be compassionate, aspire to look good, change that hijab, be smart even with your veil, do not make it your excuse, I hear a lot of ‘I can’t work in the corporate world because I wear the hijab’. So untrue. If you are exceptional, work will find you, opportunities will seek you In Sha Allah. Be a loving spouse, nagging does nothing to any relationship. It most definitely pushes men away. Learn to be understanding and compromise.

3. Marriage is a whole lot of compromise. Adore your husband, be a good friend, a confidant, a companion to him. There so many couples in this day and age living together out of habit, for financial security, because of the children, or just to be a ‘Mrs.’ I say it clearly here: it isn’t right.  I am not just an empty idealist, i'm dealing with the very basics of any relationship. Some marriages are all about plots, schemes and counter schemes; just like scenes from Desperate Housewives. Negativity is nothing but toxic. It personally wears me out. Why not spend quality time feeding each other’s intellectual curiosity? The Quran says ‘Enter Paradise, you and your wives, in happiness’. (Quran 43:70).

4. A marriage is a loving union, togetherness, and oneness. Forget that yesterday’s argument and move on. If you carry squabbles for too long, it translates to bitterness and resentment of your partner over time. My father tells my mum, ‘if we don’t end this quarrel on time, when do we get to start another round of quarrel?’. She’s always forced to smile. It’s his own way of breaking the ice and ending any feud. Am sure there’s a special place for all our mums in Jannah, so aspire to be a great mum too. Be peaceful, open minded, charitable- we need to learn to give. A girlfriend tells me always ‘get over yourself’. We sometimes get so carried away with the ‘me and my family’ syndrome in Nigeria that we fail to acknowledge other people around us in need of genuine help. With all the preoccupation about that latest Hermes bag, the new Christian Louboutin pumps and that Dubai holiday, we forget about some people close to us that might be in dire need.

5. Charity can be a smile, your time, a phone call to say salam, a listening hear, a shoulder to lean on and of course forgoing some luxuries. When last did you reach out to that friend whose husband lost his job? Have you found out about that associate that got ejected from his apartment? What about the gateman whose kids were sent home from school? Be that wonderful, dependable and trustworthy person. Add value always. Don’t make false promises, learn not to lie (very tall order for most Nigerians). Be that exceptional woman of integrity. Be Muslim. Live your life! Salam.

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