A Modern Muslim

I did it. I wish I could say I thought long and hard before I shaved my head but truth is, I didn’t think twice. As an arab-american, I’ve been split between two worlds. The middle east and the united states. I can’t say I didn’t fall in love with the american lifestyle. The american dream has the whole world in a chokehold. To me, it started as soon as my little mind entered the school system. You trade your subconscious views, thoughts and dreams to help the aesthetic of whatever you desire. America is sexually appealing to everyone and anyone. On the other hand, growing up, I was subliminally told that my experiences would simply be erased and my difficulties would minimize if I stay on the right path. As long as we pray to God, follow our retrospective books, be modest and do good, we will get everything we dreamed of. Let me tell you, a great scare tactic. Especially when I so desperately wanted everything. Whatever gripped your mind at a young age whether it be religion, experiences or traumas, trickles throughout your life experiences. Let’s take 9/11 for example, what my 6-year-old self didn’t know at the time was a new americana of muslim women were being raised. What happened in the 50s to women everywhere else, was finally trickling down to muslim american’s in the 2000s. What we heard all of our lives didn’t seem logical anymore. I was raised being able to wear whatever I wanted so truth be told, it didn’t affect me. I also was able to be friends with whoever I wanted, not just my own kind. Understandably, it’s a whole different ballgame going out into the world being a muslim hijabi than dressing however you want. The stares of disgust from ignorant minds aren’t ones you can shake off right away. Neither are the threats of violence from randoms. Let’s not forget the wave of calculated women and men of all ages and races in every corner with every desire to tear you and your religion down. You have to be unbreakable and know exactly where you’re headed. However, 27 years in the making and I realized why I wasn’t able to do it myself all these years.

I realized family, laws or god, were never going to protect me. They’re there to guide me but I’m not one to listen unless I learn it myself. We always hear men should educate themselves now rather than women having to cover themselves, but sometimes it takes a lifetime to understand that. We’re supposed to believe we’re not doing it for ourselves but for god, in order to protect the ones we love. That’s the thing, I thrive on difficult times and that’s what makes life bearable for me. It taught me who I wanted to be, not what others or groups of people wanted me to be. I’m not here to make others insecure, but I’m also over humbling myself to the point of not even being able to make eye contact in order for somebody to remain at ease. They say life is a test, so if it is, I’m glad I’m living it. The consequence of that, my mind is always on fight or flight. They say you can’t call yourself something because you don’t follow all the rules in a book. Well, I can see the hypocrisy in that. To the new wave of second generation young muslim women, as a bookworm myself, please understand that there are things a Quran won’t teach you. They say be what you needed when you were younger. Well, spark notes would’ve been the best but as cliché as it sounds, I’m glad the Quran was written like some Shakespeare book. It forced me to live and I came out with no hair. Let me tell you, as Britney Spears as this sounds (and no this is not because of my dad’s conservatorship) but genuinely, never felt as liberated as I do now. 10 years from now, who knows where I’ll be but I’m here now. I was born muslim for a reason and became the way I am for a reason. It was a tug-of-war between both worlds, a little heaven and a lot of hell which resulted in a little something I like to call, a modern muslim. 27 years in the making and I might be a little behind but life has a fun way of sneaking up on you. Who knew letting go of decade old beliefs and you’d open a chamber of american dreams that could turn into legacies.

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