Since I came back from KSA, I've been flirting with the idea of purchasing a bike. It seems like so much fun, it's economical and environmentally friendly and it could be a nice way to switch from walking. Last night, I tweeted 'Are there any sisters who ride bikes?' because I wanted some advice on various things but I only got one reply and it was something like this: 'loool it's ceeb if your somali'. Now, the sister who responded back is a sister I know through online interactions and luckily for her I kind of like her because otherwise I would have dismissed her. I replied back saying: 'it's 2017 love :') and I couldn't care less what Somalis think is ceeb.'
It made me think though..
Why do Somalis (and many Muslim communities) see girls doing things as 'ceeb' (ca3b).
- if a girl rides a bike, it's ceeb
- if a girl walks around, it's ceeb
- if a girl is too ambitious, it's ceeb
- if a girl is outspoken, it's ceeb
- if a girl doesn't want to get married, it's ceeb
- if a girl is into sports, it's ceeb
- if a woman is a working mom, it's ceeb
- if a girl works in a peculiar sector, it's ceeb
- if a girl is minding her own business, it's ceeb ect.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a girl to go to the gym or be involved in fitness.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a girl to go out by herself in town or eat out somewhere.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a woman to be involved in politics (back home) and look now.
Not long ago, it was ceeb for a girl to go to university or access higher education.
Not long ago, driving a car (back home) was ceeb for a girl... & the examples are too many to be cited
And why is it that nothing is ceeb for a guy to do? I literally can't think of 1 thing that could be considered 'ceeb' for a guy.. can you?
Now.. hold up. I'm not a feminist at all but all these questions popped up after the sister's response. Would it really be ceeb for me to go about my day on my bike? If so, why? What harm am I causing if I'm just riding around while maintaining my hijab and modesty? Ya3ni what's the problem? Why is it that we like to dismiss everything that's new and unusual as 'ceeb'. It's true, I have never seen a Somali girl on a bike or even a Muslim woman on a bike but, can this be the sole reason why we classify this as 'ceeb'?
Ceeb is something shameful and wrong. Ceeb is what is prohibited to do in our religion. Ceeb is all those things that displeases the Creator. So, please for the love of God.. let's stop putting up 'ceeb' barriers where there should be none.
Another thing that annoys me so much is when girls/sisters act all 'ceeb-ishly' when questions regarding marriage, tahaarah (purification), intimacy ect. are being discussed in a religious circle. On multiple occasions, I found myself so irritated because the sister sitting next to me felt the need to giggle, nudge me and then whisper something in my ear about how embarrassing it is and usually all this is done in the most indiscreet manner in front of the teacher (male). *Ugh*
Come on girls, let's grow up. What's ceeb about learning matters that actually concern your religion? Why do you act like you are suddenly hearing about these things for the first time? Why do you feel the need to move around, change your body language and disturb me all for what? All for an ill-placed notion of what 'ceeb' is. If it was 'ceeb' to talk about these things, then I don't think our Mother 'Aisha radhiyAllahu 'anha would have been teaching the sahaba and she wouldn't be one of the most prolific hadeeth narrators, would she?
Don't get me wrong, I also sometimes feel embarrassed when certain topics are brought up especially if these are brought up by a male teacher but I keep that to myself and bite my tongue if I have to. But I'll never display myself like some of the other girls sometimes do.
There's a difference between 'ceeb' and 'xishood' and I think the line is blurred for many people. My nickname from my childhood has been 'Libin-Xishood' because of my excessive shyness as a kid. I like that quality in me, it prevents me from a lot of bad things, it moderates my speech, it controls my thoughts, it disciplines my actions. I love my shyness and I have learnt it to use to sub-serve me and not the other way around. It's true that as a kid, I used to be shy about the most ridiculous things like eating in front of people or walking facing the traffic (still don't like that) but in recent years, I've learnt to overcome some of that shyness.
The irony is that some of these people who like to brand certain activities as 'ceeb' sometimes don't have 'xishood'. Yet our religion teaches us that shyness/modesty is from faith. Most cultures out there have their own standards to what 'ceeb' is and maybe in the somali culture it is indeed 'ceeb' for a girl to ride a bike but.. as much as I love my somalinimo and my somali heritage, if what is considered 'ceeb' holds no religious ground.. I will not feel the need to upkeep with it.
Going back to the 'ceeb' thing and men. Why is this notion of 'ceeb' seemingly only a feminine attribute?
A guy could be married, go behind his wife's back and marry a secret second wife... and even that is not 'ceeb'. A guy could be up to absolutely no good in his life (gang, drugs, ASBO ect.) but if a girl in the same family decides to do something bold (become an astronaut, run a marathon ect.) then everyone will be focused on her and the 'ceeb' that accompanies her. Mushkilah wallah.
Let's consider 'ceeb' what Allah considers 'ceeb' in His Divine Law (the Shari'ah), let's maintain our shyness and modesty to the best of our abilities. Let's not put other sisters who want to be bold in their lives, let's not stop them under the pretence of 'ceeb'. Life is too short to stop yourself from doing what makes you happy.
Plus, I'm sure once I start riding my bike.. sisters will ask me to borrow it so... :-p