Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Muslim Bashing

Muslim bashing. Well, everyone else does it in the press, so I thought I’d have a go too. But I’m going to going to attempt to deliver this blog in a witty and light-hearted fashion despite its venomous attacks. I’m confident I can do it: one time in a presentation I told a lefty joke to a room full of middle and upper class white folks but I got away with it because I’m pretty and I smiled at the end (I also got a laugh).

On my journey of realising the concept of “Muslim fashion”, I have learned a lot about The Muslim in a British context.
Growing up not practising Islam, this has been a fairly new revelation to me: both understanding Muslim social politics and the perception of me as a Muslim by ordinary British people.

I’ve compiled some observations which I would be grateful if you should look at as to why there seems to be a massive disconnect between Muslims and British people and Muslims and Muslims. For which reason? An insight as to what makes me sigh at the irony of life.

So here goes.

“The clique phenomenon”
I have met people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, who don’t know the first thing about Muslims. Not a bean. That’s a bit weird isn’t it, since it’s London, the ol’ Cultural Melting Pot, I’m talking about…So when those fascists at The Daily Mail etc spin their tales of woe about Muslims in the press, is it any wonder the masses believe them if they don’t have any points of references to check with?
Muslims hang exclusively with Muslims. I understand the practical and heck, religious benefits of the luxury of sticking to our own, but in a time where Muslims are so misunderstood and badly represented, is it really a luxury we can afford? I personally don’t think it is.

“The Dubai Contradiction”
Step aside “Infusion d'iris” by Prada and “Gucci” by Gucci, here comes the new fragrance, “Contradiction” by Muslim Folk.
Example: person X will relentlessly update their Facebook status with phrases such as “Don’t sin, Allah is watching” and, “Dunya is so not worth it, man” etc…followed by the posting of a link to a Nancy Ajram video (that’s trashy Arab pop music for those not in the know) and spending their annual holiday in luxurious, ostentatious, capital of materialism, Dubai (then coming back and bragging about it for the remaining 351 days of the year)…There’s something massively wrong about that isn’t there? There’s something wrong with an acceptance of two very polarised concepts….isn’t there?

“The Religious Veto”
The manifestation of this practise is twofold:
1) A seemingly “more religious” person will have used a technique known in the trade as “guerrilla marketing”. Said person will consistently use religious words and over a period of time will paint a picture of themselves that they are infinitely more religious and wise. Example: >ring ring, ring ring<, >answers phone<, >Assalaamu alaikum, InshaAllah, can I speak to Fluffy, Masha’Allah<.
2) People using hadiths (traditions of the Prophet Mohammad PBUH) which are out of context. For example, one time someone ultimately came to the conclusion that making someone laugh was haraam….(I think the actual hadith was referring to while someone was praying etc). No further comments.

In both cases said person(s) will ultimately have the “deciding vote” on what is halal and haraam by instilling a fear into everyone else that they must be right because they are more religious, and if you do whatever it is, you are a shameful person. Because, let’s face it, we do get awfully defensive when someone accuses us of being haraam, so we’re likely to back off and become victims to the religious veto and not ever try to change things for the better.

So what is the solution or resolution to this delusion and confusion? I leave you with this nugget of wisdom from the great philosopher, Michael Jackson “I’m starting with the man in the mirror”.

Big Smile :D

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fashion, Business and Bad Ideas

There’s a running theme of my blogs which indicates that I’m not really a big fan of “fashion” and today’s episode doesn’t break the tradition. I’d compare my relationship with fashion to the behaviour of that of a sine wave...but actually spend time more time troughing than would you draw that mathematically? I don’t know. Anyway.
So, today’s outrageous and bold statement is the following:

Fashion is about business, not ideas.

Contrary to popular belief, fashion is actually quite conservative and doesn’t really embrace new ideas. Conservative. Ironic, isn’t it? What with all those exposed nipples and such you would think that fashion was about being free and liberal etc.

Now let me explain. Have you ever watched a fashion advert and thought “that doesn’t really make sense”? Stop worrying that you’re a philistine and don’t understand it because you’re not cultured enough, it’s not actually supposed to make sense. It IS however, supposed to make you feel something, or connect with something, or make you want to be something, even if those things are shallow and/or dirty...welcome to the business of fashion, or at least, how Elenany sees it.
I recently had the privilege of having a chat with the director of one of the best fashion PR companies in London who told me straight, “Honey, fashion isn’t interested in anything controversial or political or religious, it’s shallow!”.
Ohhhh, so THAT’s why everyone uses sex to sell their products and rely on a celebrity wearing their stuff to raise their profile, rather than the actual quality of the idea of the garment itself. Rather than evolving culture, it just reflects and rides off the credibility of other arts.

Example: remember when Jordan wore Juicy Couture and it got really popular? I mean, come on, velvet tracksuits? What was that all about man?

So how does Islam and Muslims and modesty fit in to an industry that uses sex to sell its products? It would seem that it doesn’t. Or, it would mean the focus of the products would have to be on good product design, that is embraced at a grassroots level. It would mean that the design of the actual garment was paramount, and the marketing aspect was secondary; contradictory to the standard process. And where the marketing aspect was introduced, it would mean that the methods would have to be credible, rather than sexual. Kind of like the stuff that Elenany does. Thank you.