By: Zaghra savahl
When fashion model Halima Aden announced in November 2020 that she quit runway modelling, her reasons gave rise to some important discussions about Faith and the Fashion industry. The first Hijabi supermodel stated that many of the tasks that were required of her during her fashion career were incompatible with her Islamic Faith.
At what point have you compromised too much of your Faith and what should you do when you`ve reached that crossroad?
The Fashion Industry is a global economic powerhouse with a variety of career pathways that include marketing, promotion, design, sales and many more. In Islam, many of these pathways are acceptable if they do not contradict any Islamic principles. There are also many areas in Fashion that are strictly prohibited as they involve doing work that is haram. It is for this reason that many Muslims have found themselves on a precipice when it comes to their Faith and knowing when to walk away when they feel they are compromising their values.
Go back to the beginning. Who are you aiming to please?
Throughout Islamic history, there are many examples of Muslim women who owned businesses and thrived in their careers. The most famous example is that of Khadija (RA) – the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It is well-known that she was a successful businesswoman. Islamic principles are all about balance and moderation.
Therefore, pursuing a career while being steadfast in your Faith is possible, providing it does not tilt to the extreme where certain aspects of your Faith become compromised. Muslims believe that if you do everything for the sake of Allah (SWT), the rest will take care of itself, including working towards a career you are passionate about. If you start and sustain your career with the intention of pleasing Allah (SWT) and you continue to place your Faith first and everything else secondary, the decisions you make will become clearer.
It's all about balance and moderation
The Fashion Industry is known to be highly competitive. Creativity and originality are key themes, and for you to stand out from the crowd, you need to carve a distinct identity for yourself. For Muslims this can become difficult, especially when working with an agency or brand that has strict requirements or demands. Being passionate about a career, and in this context, fashion, it can easily take over your entire life because with passion comes ambition and the desire to push yourself, sometimes beyond your limits, to achieve your goals. When the demands reach an extent to where you feel you are compromising your values and it starts conflicting with your Islamic Beliefs, it might be time to take a step back and reflect on how to move forward.
An example of this could be that the company you worked with were compatible with your values at the beginning. However, they might be wanting to move to a different direction that is against your beliefs. This could be that they start partnering with sponsors that promote unHalaal products to reach a larger market. Or your team expects you to perform your duties regardless of whether it is against your personal beliefs and causes conflict that makes you question your role or worth at the company. It might be time to contemplate on your Faith and what you need to do going forward.
Trust your instincts
We all have that little voice in our heads that alerts you when something just “doesn't feel right." It can be a feeling or a moment that causes you to think twice. If your instincts are trying to warn you, listen. You don't need to decide at that moment, but it would be a good idea to seek advice. It could be that the campaign you're working for contradicts your personal values or you're just not comfortable with the type of clothing you need to promote or market. Your instincts will be one of the first signs to know when you've compromised too much.
Make Istikhaarah and ask for advice
Istikhaarah is a prayer done when you need guidance on a specific decision. In this case, it could be whether the fashion industry is for you. Or you've applied to a company in the fashion industry that meets your needs, but you're not sure whether to accept the offer or not. Or you've decided to start your own venture and need guidance as to whether the timing is right. Istikhaarah is a great source of guidance and while many seek for signs from Allah (SWT) after they've done the prayer, one of the biggest signs is that after seeking advice from people that you trust, the decision will become easier.
Negotiate and do what is best for you
Depending on the area in the Fashion Industry you wish to pursue, knowing what works for you in terms of your Faith and personal values will make your decisions easier. It will also give you the confidence to negotiate on certain areas of your contract. You may want to include clauses that are non-negotiable as this will protect you legally. Always remember your worth and know that as humans, we are all equal.
The best way to balance your fashion career with your Faith is to put your Faith first. Reflect on the Qur'an, the Hadith and Sunnah. If you make your decision with the guidelines prescribed by Islam, your decisions will be easier, and your path will become clearer.