I was searching through my drawer for something and I came across an old Muslim outfit that I forgot about. Several years ago I went to the YMCA and signed up for membership for my kids and me when I was a Muslim. After getting accepted, we went to the Y several times a week and I used pretty much everything in the facility even though I wore a jilbab and hijab. I had ditched the niqab by this time because it became too much of a nuisance especially since I was newly single. Eventually I went and bought a x-large mens long sleeved shirt and baggy pants so I could have better workout wear without breaking the religious commandments of covering my awrah. This allowed my to spend plenty of time on the weight machines, free weight area, stationary cardio machines, indoor track, and the video game room. I was able to use everything EXCEPT the pool. This Y had a huge heated indoor lap pool, a jacuzzi, and a sauna. Every time we went I would feel the cool breeze of chlorinated water and long to feel the water on my skin once again. There was no way to escape it either because the building was designed to pass by the pool at every angle. Even in the dressing room the cool water beckoned with every beach towel flung over a changing stall. Working out on the weights didn’t do much to quell my desire to jump in either. All of the sweating from deadlifts, shoulder presses, and seated rows with all of the clothes I had on just intensified my desire jump in just once. After awhile I started to feel like crack fiend that wanted just one hit. It was like thinking “the pool, it be callin me man, it be callin me”.
One day, a sister on Facebook mentioned that she was going to Jordan and asked if any sisters wanted anything back. This was usually for things that were difficult to find in the states or were too expensive: jilbabs, thoubs, some books, oils, et cetera. By this time a new swimsuit had hit the marketplace. It was designed specifically for Muslim women although it was marketed to other women with similar religious body covering requirements and also those with skin conditions. Still it was a major joke in circles and caught a lot of flak. Mainly because it defeated the purpose of covering the female body. While it may have covered the skin it was not loose fitting and stuck to all curves like glue. I never would have purchased such a contraption a few years prior but as my resolve began to weaken from watching all the people frolick and splash in the pool, I began to contemplate a purchase. After asking several sisters about their swimsuit experiences, I no longer cared, broke down, and asked the sister to purchase a special Muslim swimsuit for me while she was in Jordan. That’s right, I am embarrassed to admit I bought and wore….a burkini.
A burkini is supposed to be a combination of the words burqa and bikini. Burqas are famously known as the blue coverings that Afghan women don when they leave the house or are around a non-related male. The rest is self explanatory. The sister mailed my new special swimsuit to me when she got back and I did not waste not one second going to the Y to swim. I got a knock off version of the real deal so perhaps it was a little tighter than the brand name. I didn’t know and didn’t care, all I could think of was “pool here I come”. I didn’t care that some supposedly invisible angels were writing down my deed of swimming, I couldn’t suit up fast enough. I didn’t care how ridiculous it looked to Western eyes, I just wanted people to move out of the way.
To be honest, it was comparable to wearing wet suit and left me feeling a little underwhelmed with the swimming experience. Because so much of my skin and hair was covered by the burkini, I still didn’t get the pleasure of feeling the cool water. While I may have been in the water the only sensation I had was on my face, hands, and feet. While the fabric was lightweight, the weave was tight and non-porous so not a whole lot of water got through. I also tried to sit in the jacuzzi and the sauna but it was much too hot and I wound up feeling deflated and like it really wasn’t worth the effort.
That wasn’t my first time swimming since I had accepted Islam. When I was pregnant with my second child I went to a swim class for pregnant women that was supposed to be closed off for women only. I also paid for a private pool rental at another YMCA for all the Muslim sisters. But that was tedious because not only did I have to fork over $150 but I had to go early to cover all the windows. Even then, Muslimahs aren’t allowed to completely uncover in front of each other(depending on which school of thought was followed) so we still swam in t-shirts and capri length shorts. After that I never bothered with the pool until the burkini incident. Some sisters husbands would purchase a house with a pool and they would hold private pool parties but it just wasn’t the same as swimming in jahiliyyah.
As I type this, my daughters are at a pool now and I feel glad that they are free from the bondage of Islam that would prevent them from enjoying such an activity. The only thing I have heard of more ridiculous is Mormons being forbidden to swim. My plans were to take my kids to the beach and let them wear real bathing suits but the finances have not allowed it. As for me, on my bucket list is to go to nude beach(probably Haulover in Miami) and let the sun and water touch every inch of my body the way it should be.
I also scheduled a spin class for sisters at the Y but only two showed up and I once attempted to play a game of tennis in full hijab with another sister. Trying to orchestrate exercise around all of Islam’s retarded rules is burdensome and causes Muslim women to lead unhealthy lives. I’m sure some Muslim will retort that if America were like Saudi and had female only facilities that wouldn’t be a problem. However that is not the solution. It is not natural to have to go from one building to another all covered up just to get your heart rate up. You should be able to jog down the street in shorts and a tank and not be restricted in your choice of exercise to appease some made up god.
The lifestyle regulation of Muslims in general is unhealthy overall and is even moreso for Muslim women. The combination of loose gowns, lack of exercise, lack of sun, regularly being pregnant, and constantly fasting probably plays a role in the unspoken problem of depression amongst Muslim women. I ballooned up to 185(from 145) my first year as a Muslimah due to wearing the loose fitting garbs that don’t let you account for food intake. Not to mention how Muslims are discouraged from doing anything unappealing to Allah(which is a lot) and that results in a lot of sitting around and gaining weight.
After my second son was born, Taebo was all the rage and I got my hands on a couple of the tapes. Within 2 1/2 months of chugging nothing but Milo’s tea and 4 hours of daily Taebo cardio, I had incinerated all of the fat(30-35 pounds) and was down to 155 pounds and 2 pack. My hourglass was on its way back and my peephole(thigh gap). While this is not something I would ever recommend doing again, it worked to undo the the damage and help me break a plateau(I usually plateau around 160).
However, even though I reached that milestone the most I would get for my efforts from Muslims was that I was sinning by working out to music or looking at a half naked man on an aerobic video. Being to vain for worrying about my shape when it is better to be concerned with the Allah and Jannah, blah blah blah. The Taebo creator Billy Blanks and his daughter Shellie were in town at a free event at a church once. I went and even though I didn’t partake in the exercises(my son did) I told a sister about it and she behaved as though I had committed some grave sin equivalent to murder. Islam and Muslims would put forward that it is better to be fat, tired, depressed, and unhealthy than to partake in any exercise to improve your state of mind and state of being.
So that is one of the many fringe benefits of apostating. Not only can I purchase and wear a regular swimsuit and enjoy a splash in the pool without looking like I am training to be a Navy seal but I can engage in activities that will enhance, and not encumber, my mind, body, and spirit.