A Day in the Life
I go to my classes
and I usually have one or two meetings a day because
I’m very involved in my student organizations.
The main way being Muslim affects my daily life is
through the five daily prayers.
There are certain time ranges within which we have to pray,
so I usually try to find time between classes
and I often change my schedule to accommodate
for all the prayers.
Before each prayer I have to do wudu,
which is essentially a way to prepare for prayer
by cleaning ourselves of any physical impurities.
So it’s more complicated than just finding a place to pray
because I have to think about that to.
I try to schedule my classes to go to our Friday prayer,
but it does not always work out.
It is not mandatory to attend
but I obviously try to go if I can.
For some reason,
I feel like people are timid to approach me.
Some people have the perception that people that wear the hijab are more timid themselves.
When one of my friends got to know
me better she said,
“When I first met you, I had no idea that you’d be loud and funny.”
I’m like, “What does that mean?”
Sometimes I feel like I have to make the extra effort to be like,
“Hey, hi, I’m normal, talk to me.”
Learning About Being a Muslim American Woman
Pretty much everything that I’ve learned about being a Muslim American and a Muslim American woman is from my parents, primarily my mom. Growing up my family did everything together, including all of our prayers. It could be annoying because it’s like, “What if I want to pray in ten minutes and not right now?” But now I know that praying together made us a stronger and more cohesive family. My parents always emphasized faith as the top priority in our household, which we work to emulate into all of our actions.
My parents are social butterflies and on average we had one dinner party a week and I did not always understand the purpose behind it. Growing up I questioned it because I always had to clean and help out.
I would always ask, “Why do we have to do this so often?”
And my parents answered, “It’s a very important part of our faith.”
As Muslims, we have to be very welcoming, and providing food for family, friends, or strangers, is one of the best deeds one can do. Being the type of person that is social and generous is very important in Islam. It is also very important to be an active community member. A lot of people don’t focus on this part. My mom is the one who showed me how to be an active community member and a strong Muslim. And she taught me that you can be active and engaging while also maintaining modesty and humility. She always wore her hijab and modest clothing confidently and is an active community member with positions on various boards in the community. A lot of people have difficulty finding this balance. But my mom showed me that yes, it can be done and this is how you do it.
I have five brothers and sisters. We all were born and raised in Muncie, Indiana. I went to school in Yorktown. I don’t know the exact population size but it’s very small. There was very little diversity at my school. Growing up I knew I was different than the rest of my classmates but it wasn’t something that really affected me. I just accepted it as a fact. In high school, I was the only student who wore hijab (headscarf). Putting on the hijab was my own decision but it was difficult. However, the fact that I had known most of my classmates for most of my life made it much easier. I still got a lot of questions though. I felt like people were sometimes hesitant to talk to me and I’d just be like, “You’ve known me for ten years.”
Growing up there were not very many Muslims in Yorktown or Muncie and so I do get some stares or odd looks once in a while, and occasionally some comments. I try not to let it affect me. I try to stay true to myself while trying to be as friendly as possible to the people around me.
Even though terrible things have been said and people have done terrible things because of it, it has opened a lot of doors for people to connect. There have been more conversations about Islam, and I have had so many opportunities to show people what Islam really is. I am very grateful for that.
It’s funny, I’ve had a few people tell me, “Go back to your own country.” It’s funny because I was born here and I am just as American as everyone else. These comments don’t really affect me that much because I know I belong here. I have always been confident in myself and I have never felt the need or desire to isolate myself. I definitely feel more American than I do Afghan. Even my parents, who have now spent more time in America than they have in Afghanistan, feel more American than Afghan. They’re like “We’re here. We’re in it. We have contributed to this country just as much as everyone else.”