On emulating the four perfect women of all times: Asiya (foster mother of Moses), Maryam (mother of Jesus), Khadija (wife of Muhammad S) and Fatima (daughter of Muhammad S). May God's peace and blessings be upon them all. This chronicles one imperfect woman's vicissitudes on that most ambitious trail.
I knew I had to pay closer attention to my appearance when my daughter, who decided to be a mom for career day this week, layed out her costume like this:
"I can wear my pajamas and a robe and wear my hijab like this (motioning dishevelment with both hands). I'll put a baby here (one hip) and another here (the other hip)," she continued as my eyes grew buggier. Was she talking about me?
"I know! I can take [my younger sisters] with me to school!"
Admittedly, between watching a pot on the stove and tending to someone or another sitting on the pot, glamming it up has not been a priority for me for some time.
But it should be.
To strengthen our marriages, women (of all ages) are supposed to dress up at home when our husbands are around. This means being consistently neat and clean while wearing clothing, jewelry and perfume attractive to them.
"There are some women who [think] 'I don't want my children to see me dressed up so when I'm around the house I'm going to wear house clothes,'" says scholar Usama Abdul-Ghani. "But, unfortunately, the husband always sees you in house clothes."
According to God, the best of clothing is the "raiment of righteousness." (Quran 7:26) For women, righteousness includes beautifying ourselves at home for our husbands while adorning ourselves with modesty, dignity and poise elsewhere.
Prophet Muhammad (S) said: "Surely, the best of your women is the one who...dresses up for her husband and is chaste around others."
Maryam, the mother of Jesus and one of the four perfect women, was a model of propriety in dress and manners. God says about Maryam, "And (remember) her who guarded her chastity." (21:91)
Indeed, artistic renderings of the Virgin Mary by non-Muslims also show her in modest garb--long, flowy and with a head covering.
Even today, it is women dressed like that--often described by the media as "the sea of black"--who lead in protests against oppression and injustice around the world.
Many have been inspired by the sermons of Imam Khomeini:
"Women must be brave, they must involve themselves in the fundamental destiny of [their] country...[but] women should not be tricked [and] imagine their station in life calls for them to come out into the streets dressed up and made up, with no veil and scantily dressed. This is not the role of women; this is the role of a doll."
Hold on, I think I hear the garage door opening. I have got to goooooooo!