As an American Muslim, living in the states sure has its challenges. One of these hurdles is wearing the hijab. I stand out in a crowd wherever I go. It may be the mall, supermarket, park, you name it the chances of there being another hijabi in that place is slim to none…well that is if the other hijabi isn’t out on the stroll of town with me LOL. Since I moved to the south I have to say three years ago, I felt like a needle in a haystack in my city. The fact, that I moved out of New York City was terrifying for me. I had a large Islamic community to fall back on and many activities within the Islamic community. It was different here in the south at that time.

I would go to Walmart, and get these stares which I would shrug off with a polite smile to the person. Well that didn’t work, they just gave me that dead on “I hate you look”. It was tough when I first moved here. That changed gradually as a few years came to pass.

Four years later, it seems people are coming to terms that Muslims live in the community. I think they’re realizing that all the junk Bush said in the beginning was basically propoganda and a way to advertise the war in Iraq. People have become curious about Islam. I mean dont’ get me wrong, once in a blue I do get those hideaous “go back home” looks, but overall I’ve been stopped and asked what is Islam. What are our beliefs, and why on earth do I wear the veil. The funny thing happened to me last night at the Walmart. I have endlessy been confused for being Arab (nothing wrong with that) I guess most Americans just assume you’re from the Middle East if you’re a hijabi. Ok so I was in the cream cheese section of Walmart, when a little girl about the age of four came up to my three year old daughter and kept saying hi to her. Since my little princess (at times who has monsterly behavior), is so shy she hid behind my legs and didn’t respond LOL if any of you are married to Arabs or anyone in the Middle East you soon discover once having a girl it’s as if you hit jack pot in the gold department LOL. My daughter was wearing her jewelry which I mean what other little girl wouldn’t notice it. Anyway, she kept on her hello’s then her grandmother says “Oh your daughter is just sooo…. perty (southern accent for pretty)” I of course said thank you very much, then out of no where she adds… You know she’s Arab also *screeching car noise*. “Oh mam” I told her, “I’m not Arab”. She looked at me extremely confused LOL, asking then “So what are you?” I kindly told her “I’m Hispanic”. Well that really confused her lol. I don’t know if she hurried and left out of embarassment assuming I was from the Middle East or didn’t like my answer. I am 90% sure it was in embarassment. This of course has not been my first brush with these incidents. I mean, I love these moments because in a sort of weird and crazy way its dawah LOL. The fact that they think that most Muslims are Arabs, really is no surprise to me. The constant comment I usually get after informing them about my  different background is  “I thought you had to be Arab to be a Muslim”. I mean this isn’t just Americans but I think its a perception that many people in the states both immigrants and citizens have of Muslim demographics.

So, I like to think that everyday I do a little more to steer people away from Muslim misconceptions. Sometimes its as easy as saying I’m from another descendancy, other times it’s not as superficial. People are interested about our way of life now, with all the media focusing on the war in Iraq, the suicide bombings in Israel, honor killings. It seems people are really beginning to realize, that this isn’t the religion, but a circle of fanatic Islamists who are polluting the air with their hate.  People are coming around Alhamdulilah. I converted two years after 9/11 and I see a big change in the American public. It went from sadness, hate, anger, confusion to now trying to understand the Islamic idealogy.

Some people may criticize the fact that we’re living in the West as Muslims either if we’re foreign or natives to this country. I however, am of the opinion that this is my country. I can practice my religion freely and I hold the liberty of freedom of speech. I am free to wear my hijab, go to my mosque and listen to uncensored lectures in my native language, and perform my obligations without interference of this government. The day that these rights have been taken away from me is the day that I will migrate out of this land because the earth doesn’t belong to us it belongs to Allah (swt). He made it vast and wide for us to practice our deen. That will be the day I leave this land, as for now, I have a duty here and that’s to be the best darn American Muslim I can be. 

So as long as I get these questions of “Why do you put your head on the floor…Why do you wear that scarf on your head… who is this Allah…do you worship Muhammad…who is Muhammad (pbuh)….etc.”? I will stay here as long as Allah (swt) allows me too. Good or bad, either way these confrontations from this society are not hinderances but challenges that will help me and my family. The goal is to clean the air of pollution that was implanted in some of these people’s minds, hearts, and souls thus bringing them into to the true light of Al-Islam. Positive or negative experiences, either way I intuitively see them as hurdles to overcome in this quest of deeper knowledge and understanding. An exploration  on the Quest of Truth. A journey that only ends when our body relinquishes our soul.

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