September 16, 2015
I went back to wearing my Canadian attire. Jeans, cargo shorts, t-shirts, hat. I feel like I can just present myself as I am now. God doesn’t look at the clothes you wear, or the colour of your skin. He looks at your heart. You can have the nicest thaub with the most rotten heart; you can wear rags and have a heart of light. Perhaps my Umrah had something to do with that. Sheikh Tamir said something powerful: with ihram, you can have the nicest hair, but for a while, you have no hair at all. You can wear the nicest clothes, but for a while, you’re wearing the simplest and most humble clothes imaginable. Ihram puts everyone on the same level. It lowers you into that state to remind you that you are a servant.
In Mecca, the closer you get to Masjid Al-Haram, the more metropolitan the city becomes. Hotels and malls and overpasses and construction form a ring around the Haram. When there isn’t a prayer happening, people are either worshipping in the Haram or shopping in the malls. No matter where I went I was surrounded by people. Many were dressed in the same kind of attire you’d find here in Canada: jeans, t-shirts, and so on (except shoes; most people wore sandals without socks due to the weather, as did I).
At this point—and I can’t quite explain it—the self-consciousness I had about how I was dressed and trying to fit in just dissipated. I decided to go back to wearing my standard shorts and t-shirt. Maybe it was the sheer number of people dressed similarly. Maybe it was from doing Umrah and wearing ihram that sort of reset my notion of clothes being a reflection of your identity. It may even be the environment; the slow meditative tranquility of Medina is replaced with an ocean of people constantly on the move trying to get somewhere. Whatever it was, I felt like I didn’t need to put on airs to feel like I belonged. I was here, in Mecca, and felt that I no longer needed to try and dress a certain way.
In Islam, your exterior is not as important as your interior. Unfortunately for many new Muslims, there’s a perception that to be a Muslim means you have to wear Middle Eastern-style clothes. But this isn’t the case. Prophet Muhammad (p) wore the clothes of his people. And all around me, in Mecca, people were wearing the clothes of their people. The Prophet (p) said that “Allah loves to see the traces of His blessings on His servants.” But at this point, I felt like I could just be me, all Canadian and jean-clad and such, and that God would accept me as I was, so long as I kept my intention clear.