The Rebellious Bride

Oh my god I am so pissed at the moment I feel like shouting using my perempuan gila naik baran voice which I have used before in my line of work.

My mom was telling me to hurry and make the booking with the caterer whose food we had just tasted on Sunday (more of that in another post).

My dad was there too when we talked. Just after I explained the items that I vaguely remember the caterer would provide at the price that is within my budget, he said something which is precisely what set me off.

The point of contention:
Bridal henna

What he said:

Since we’re talking about the wedding, I would just like to remind you about the bridal henna. It’s fine if you do the usual one but don’t do the intricate drawings on the hands…

My reaction (in my head and heart):
Darah naik tahap maksima kepala angin meresap satu badan. Also known as WTF!?!?! (I swear I have never been so angry on this site.) Or on anything wedding-related.

No, this isn’t because I have been dreaming about putting on bridal henna since I was eleven. (I didn’t.) This isn’t because I feel a Malay bride wouldn’t be complete without bridal henna. This isn’t even about bridal henna in the first place!

This is about stupid kolot mindsets. This is about listening and believing blindly whatever is said by men in beards (and some women in headscarves). This is about patriarchal control. This is about body policing.

So why is he against bridal henna? Because he listens and believes blindly what the above holy and righteous ‘scholars’ say about it: that it is something rooted in Hindu custom and beliefs. (Oh my god, so if I put on bridal henna I’m suddenly going to believe that god comes in numerous forms and my favourite would be the elephant god because elephants are one of my favourite animals? Oh my, book me a space in hell, pronto! You can so see how angry I am when I get damn sarcastic like this.)

No, obviously I won’t! And you know what, I believe my God loves beauty. And beauty is what makes an unhindered, unjudgemental, unpretentious, unindoctrinated-with-religious-dogma heart happy. And bridal henna, at face value (meaning don’t read anything into it! don’t religiously politicise it!) can easily make anyone admire its beauty.

I also believe that my God calls Himself All-Merciful for a reason. Why fret over the small outwardly things? God knows what’s in my heart regardless what goes on outside of it. I also believe my God is not petty. There must be a reason why he’s allowed so many religions to flourish through thousands of years of human history. I choose to believe my God sees beyond small human acts. Like whether you use bridal henna or not on your wedding, or whether or not you use socks to cover your feet when you pray (believe it or not, a quarter or maybe half the Muslim world prays this way and yes their prayers are just as valid!), or even whether or not you wear the hijab at all.

And this is how hijab is linked to bridal henna:


Yes, wearing hijab, or tudung, was never a conscious choice I made as an adult. It was imposed upon me by my parents when I showed the first signs of puberty. However, I didn’t dare to rebel then (and I stupidly believed it was religiously compulsory), so I grew into it and got used to it. My hair’s never been the silky smooth kind; it’s thick and puffy-frizzy so yes, no love lost when I don’t get to show it off to the world. And yes, some fashions just aren’t suitable with hijab, but I get some people (aka impressionable young adults) whom I meet at work calling me cantik or chio bu (that means pretty girl, right?) because of the way I style my hijab-appropriate outfit, so no love lost either.

And yes! Back to the bridal henna now. So, while they have effectively wrapped me up since I was 10 or so, this adulthood incursion into my right to make decisions over my own body is stepping way beyond the line. And no! In no way am I going to be bullied (yes, it’s bullying) into doing, or in this case not doing something with my own body. I’ve stayed the course with hijab (except for my own little private strayings) for the sake of my family name and reputation,  and my sacrifice stops there! I am going to have that damn bridal henna done and that’s it!

The funny thing is, when I first started thinking of my wedding, being the trying-hard-to-go-the-unconventional-route BTB, I had decided early on that I would just do the simple henna on the fingers myself. The simple reason is, it would cost next to nothing (it all boils down to the budget) and I didn’t really have any preference about it. Simple is nice, with some designs is also nice (okay, but too intricate til your skin looks like it has scales on it is a turn off). However, along the way, I found a source for getting bridal henna for free (shamelessly declaring to my sister and my 2 closest cousins that in place of my birthday gift this year – it’s a tradition for us to celebrate our four birthdays – I would like wedding sponsorship for bridal henna)!

And now that it has taken on an added symbolism, that is, an act of rebellion (against patriarchy, body policing, narrowmindedness, etc), I AM DEFINITELY GETTING IT DONE. FULL STOP. Booking a henna vendor would be the thing I do right after publishing this post.

My boiling blood has gone down to a small simmer, thanks to this writing therapy, but I’d just like to add this last thing: I am not surprised that my dad felt compelled to make that statement. After all, this is the man who, when I was in ICU with at least 4 or 5 needles and tubes criss crossing my hands and body, was fussing over my uncovered head and made sure that my mom brought an instant tudung the next day to get it covered. Oh yes, my fiancée and other strange, unrelated men who sees me in the ICU with my head uncovered would totally find me attractive and lust after me. (Which is NOT the rationale behind the hijab, by the way, but you get my sarcasm.) Thanks,  dad, for caring so much about my place in hellfire that you conveniently forget about the hell that I went through prior to and while being in ICU. I have never understood the term ‘daddy’s girl’ or ‘daddy’s princess’, and never will I envy any girl who identifies themselves as such, because I have never had – not even the faintest – connection with my dad; he has proven, from childhood til now how emotionally detached he can be from his children. And I’m not pining for any. I’m happy as long as he’s alive and relatively healthy. And stays out of my freaking (decisions over) my body.

And that relevation about me being in ICU is a sign that my other blog badly needs updating.


10 thoughts on “The Rebellious Bride

    • Haha.. Some might call it rash and foolish rather than brave. Maybe even arrogant in terms of disagreeing with or questioning some ‘scholars’, when my own knowledge is limited, or its sources ‘questionable’. But what drives me really is how ridiculous / petty people can get over appearances.

  1. Sabar… Sabar… I’ve landed myself in such situations like this with my parents but I managed to get support from my elder siblings to psycho my parents otherwise. In time my parents begin to understand that what matters is the happiness of their children. InsyaAllah, all will be well. 🙂 But if it still doesn’t work out, REBEL sajalah! Yang penting kita happy! Bridal henna is super unimportant thing for parents to be fretting about.

  2. Hi sis, i dropped by ur blog by chance and all. Not a btb but i just had this argument about henna with parents. And may i also add that I feel you when i read the last part of your blog entry in regards to not being to feel what is it like to be “daddy’s girl” or princess. Big hug!! 🙂

  3. You may have a case in point and if u ask me personally, bridal henna is fine and yes i can agree that insya Allah, with Allah’s mercy, it is not going to make you “believe that god comes in numerous forms….” There were quite a number of things which I disagree with my father and your father, but we managed to talk it out like adults do and we acknowledge our weaknesses. Before I continue, I hope that my thots here are read objectively not emotionally and I do apologise should anyone get offended…

    I am simply appalled by the manner you put across your thoughts. No matter how true or how justified your claims are, ‘akhlak’ or moral conduct must be maintained at all times and that includes politeness, as mentioned in HR Bukhari, Rasulullah said, “Verily, I was sent to perfect moral conduct”. Lack of it is what exactly that brings Iblis to its lowest point because Iblis thinks he is superior than Prophet Adam a.s. Therefore, arrogance is definitely bad and potentially disastrous.

    I can agree that bapak may have not shown his compassion side or express a fatherly love for the kids but your assessment in this posting is a bit bias. He did care in his own way “…..about the hell that I went through prior to and while being in ICU…”, when he get u to drink a glass of water with the ‘shifa’ prayers. Isn’t he trying to make you feel better? Give credits where credits r due. Unless of course, you believe that such prayers is nothing but empty utters. Bapak, though he has a lot to reflect upon how he convey his messages, is simply carrying out his duties as a father and that includes making sure the daughter put up hijab at all times. You may want to read further at……. (

    “I’ve stayed the course with hijab (except for my own little private strayings) for the sake of my family name and reputation”……my dear sister, if you still have this thot at the back of your mind, pls do some soul-searching and pray to Allah (not God but ALLAH) to have mercy on you and guide you and all of us from an intent other than for Allah’s sake. pls refer to surah AnNur (24:31) and do rethink your statement….”(and I stupidly believed it was religiously compulsory)”. If at any point that putting up a hijab in ICU somehow affect your health in anyway, then fair enough remove it by all means if that is amounting to darurat or emergency. But in your case, does it really affect your health? Can any doctor attest to that at that point?

    Before you say somebody is having a kolot mindset, ask youself….”why am i so kolot as to believe that my actions by belittling my own father and showing of disrespect in a public domain is the way to go”…..if dats d case, you might ask me then why i, myself, have responded d way i am doing now….the public domain way. Well, I would say I am just responding on a level-playing field and furthermore I want the rest in this thread to realise that there’s little to be proud of, there’s little brave in, there’s little to cheer about, there’s little to salute at, the post entitled “The Rebellious Bride”.
    May I ask you then….”Why fret over the small outwardly things?”

    If you think you are detached emotionally from bapak, you are not alone and I think the rest of siblings may feel the same way. And we are all rebellious in our own way, just that we need to regroup our thots fast enough before that rebel attitude brings you further away and diminish our self-respect, and most importantly, our faith. Therefore, I urge myself and everyone here to respect parents at all times as stipulated in Quran and hadith. You may read the following..(

    Zakiah, I wish to remind myself first and then you…..that you don’t have to understand the term “daddy’s girl” or “daddy’s boy” for that matter…..what’s more important is to seek knowledge from well-versed asatizahs ( not from mere reading and mere internet resources ). And understand the duties as a daughter, as a future wife, as a future mother and as a true muslimah in its Islamic entirety.

    Last but not least, I wish to apologise if I had shattered some of our egos here but I do pray and sincerely hope that some of my thots here would benefit us in one way or another. May Allah bless and guide us all. Thank you for your attention.

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