Hijabi of the Month April 2015 - Ruby Jaffrey
Posted on April 18, 2015
This month's Hijabi of the Month is Ruby Jaffrey from Dallas, Texas. She was nominated by her husband who had this to say about her,
"I would like to nominate my beautiful wife, Ruby Jaffrey. She is a fun loving, caring and sensitive woman who has taught me more by her actions than I could ever explain. She started wearing hijab about 2 years ago. She was always steadfast in her decision to wear the hijab and did not allow any negativity to come in the way. She has transformed our family by taking a stand which has changed so many things in how we behave and act. We are all so proud of her. She is a calligraphy artist who finds passion in creating beautiful calligraphy paintings."
My name is Ruby Jaffrey. My parents migrated from Pakistan in 1961 to London, England, where I was born and raised. I moved to Dallas, Texas in 2002 and started painting in 2007. You can visit her website www.rubyjaffrey.com, and check her out on Facebook and Instagram @rubyjaffrey!
1) When did you start wearing Hijab? Tell us a little bit about your journey.
I started wearing hijab just over 2 years ago. I had always wanted to, but had never quite mustered up the courage. In my head, wearing hijab had always been contingent upon me perfecting other practices of my faith first. What I didn’t realize, is that finding the courage to start wearing hijab would enable me to embark upon that spiritual journey too.
Mentally, I had already prepared myself to take that final step, I was just waiting for the right moment. I really had no idea what, when where or how this miraculous moment was going to transpire, I just knew that there was lots of groundwork to be done first. Namely, I had to convince my husband!!! I had been aware of his feelings about hijab from before we were married and I was afraid that my adopting the headscarf would affect the way he felt about me. I would broach the subject every once in a while to test the waters and the answer was always the same. Until one day he took me by surprise and made me question whether my excuse not to observe was even a valid one. He said that I shouldn’t let him be the one stopping me from wearing hijab. I guess I realized at that point that this was all the blessing I needed, or was going to get!
Friends often ask me whether I just woke up one morning and decided to walk out of the house with a headscarf on, or how I came to start? It’s interesting that on the day that I actually started wearing hijab, I only left the house wearing it because I was attending a gathering where it was required, and I didn’t want to be fiddling with it once I got there. I had not made the conscious decision, or intended for that day to be ‘the right moment’. We were on our way home and where I would once have allowed the scarf to accidentally on purpose slip off my head, I found myself making sure it was still secure. It didn’t feel right to remove it. I just couldn’t do it. It was a very emotional moment for me and seeing that I was upset, my husband said that we would talk about it later. I think he thought I was temporarily mesmerized by the words of the speaker we had heard and that I would snap out of it, hopefully sooner rather than later!
“Take one step towards Allah (S) and He will clear your path towards Him of all obstacles.” Those words resonated so deeply and were more prophetic than I could ever have imagined.
The first year was a struggle. I was trying to morph my personality into this new public image that I had insisted upon adopting while trying to find the inner conviction to stand firm. It was hard to stay focused on the real motivation behind my decision, while trying to maintain that I was still the same person underneath the hijab, to all those who had already passed judgment about what I would become now that I had started observing.
Alhamdulillah 2 years on, I cannot thank Allah (S) enough for what I can only describe as ‘miracles’ that have occurred in my life since I made the commitment to remind myself everyday of where my ultimate allegiance lies. When our friends or loved ones give us a gift we acknowledge their kindness and generosity by sending them a ‘Thank You’ card. This was my way of sending daily thanks to my Creator, Provider, Protector, and Benefactor for the infinite blessings He has showered upon me, without me having done anything to deserve them.
2) You are a very talented Calligraphy Artist! Tell us how you got into it, what it means to you and what you hope to accomplish through your art.
I am indebted to my mother who provided me with the tools by teaching me to read the Quran and read and write Urdu, and always emphasizing the importance of heritage. My husband discovered the artist in me and made my work public by secretly submitting it to a juried Islamic Art exhibition. He continues to support, encourage, and motivate me and is also my biggest critic!
Allah (S) guides every stroke of my brush, and I pray that He continues to bestow upon me the inspiration to do more to glorify Him. I hope for my children and our youth to grow up with something beautiful to show for their religion. Its our responsibility as Muslims to counterbalance extremism with a unified voice that is moderate, full of reason, and one that reflects the true colors of our faith. I want to be able to contribute to a positive image of the religion we practice that isn’t black and white.
3) The arts have not always been supported in our community (despite our rich history in Islamic Art), do you see that starting to change? Why or why not?
I feel that as the fabric of our society evolves so will traditionally held perceptions including attitudes towards the arts. Our ‘community’ has grown through technological advances in communication and social media ‘trending’. We can now connect with, influence and ‘share’ images, points of view, experiences and philosophies at the touch of a button. It’s the best creative space for expression of new and innovative ideas, where the lens of a camera or a keyboard is the only language required. Artistic thought and expression has flourished in this new arena paving the way for a renewed interest and a revival of the arts. With my area of interest being Islamic and Arabic Calligraphy I am amazed at how much talent there is our there. I started my Facebook Group ‘Art By Ruby', and more recently my Instagram page so that my friends could see my work. The support and appreciation I have received from all age groups across borders over the last seven years leaves no doubt in my mind that there is definitely room for contemporary expression of Islamic Art now and in the future.
We must continue to challenge the misconception that Art is un-Islamic by reminding ourselves of the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) hadith “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty”4) If you could tell your 18 year old self one thing, what would it be?
We cannot control what life has in store for us. What we can control is the way we react.
“Life consists of two days, one for you and one against you. So when it’s for you don’t be proud or reckless, and when its against you be patient for both days are a test for you.” - Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RA).
5) What is your favorite Prophetic Hadith or Quranic Ayah?
It's hard to limit it to just one, there are so many amazing references.
One of my favorites is from Surah Ar-Rahman, “Fabi ayi alaa I Rabbikuma tukadhibaan,” meaning, "Then which of your Lord’s favors will you deny?"
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
Take one day at a time, try to look ahead rather than keep looking back. When I first started wearing hijab I would look through old pictures all the time and feel sad that I would never be the same again. It took me a whole year to realize that although my identity had changed, it hadn’t been lost. There is so much to be gained in adopting hijab, and yet society mourns the ‘old’ you as if you somehow died when you started covering! They’ll tell you that its not required, that its detrimental to the image of Muslims in the West (if you live in the West?!), that its backward, that there’s no point covering your hair if you are still going to wear x, y and z. You’ll hear every objection under the sun. Which begs the question. Why is what I put on my head or body so important to society??
You did it for Allah and He is the only One you seek to please. Whether He is pleased or not is also between you and Him alone. Let those finding it hard letting go of your hair get used to it . I guarantee they’ll be the ones praising you to others when you’re not around! Don’t change for anyone but Allah. His is the opinion that matters above all. Embrace the opportunity He has given you. You will be amazed at how He rewards your intention alone.
Is there someone you'd like to nominate for Hijabi of the Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!