By Ayse Ulukaya
One thing I have learned as a Muslim student in a non-Muslim country is that we have a great responsibility; we have to show the beauty of Islam to others. As a youth, at times it is very easy to want to become like everybody else. We should not be under the influence of our surroundings, rather, we should influence our surrounding by our actions. We must all find something that represents us, something we can stand up for. For me, it is my hijab.
A lot of people take living in a community full of Muslims for granted. For my first three years living in America, I lived in a place where there were only a handful of Muslims. There was only one other Muslim at the school I attended. I was the only one that wore a hijab. For some of the students, I was the first hijabi they met. At first, I was astonished at the ignorance within the questions they asked. Soon after, I realized they simply didn’t know. They didn’t know about Islam. I knew teaching them was my responsibility. In regards to the other Muslim, I didn’t know she was Muslim until she approached me. As I was only in 7th grade and didn’t know better, I let myself blend into the crowd. I realized that I had started to become like that other Muslim girl, just another girl. My hijab was the hand that I held onto to keep me from disappearing in the quicksand.
My hijab, is not just a piece of fabric that covers my hair. It is who I am. Hijab is not on my head, it is in my heart. It is what makes me stand out. As a Muslim student, I have ran into obstacles but it is also worth everything I stand for. I have learned a lot through wearing hijab. People criticize. They question. I have learned to not let them. I put in my best efforts to show them the true beauty of the hijab. One of the most rewarding thing is hearing people say “I respect you for being able to wear a hijab” then I know I have done my job.
Alhamdulillah, I have learned how to walk across a quicksand without getting sucked into it.I hold on to my scarf. I let it lead and guide me. I come from a country where half of its citizens believe those who wear hijab are considered to be unable to acclimate. I want to prove them wrong. What they don’t understand is that my hijab is what gives me the strength, courage and confidence. It is a part of me. Most importantly, It never lets me forget who I am, a Muslimah.
Picture Reference: http://www.iqracentre.org.uk/leeds/hijab-and-modesty/