Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Being Muslim This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

People are afraid of me.

Why are they afraid of me, you might ask? A rare disease? Hideous scars? Vile breath? I reply, with a smile on my face, that it puzzled me at first, too. But now I know. People think worse about me than that. Much worse. But I've learned. And I know that it isn't me. They're just scared of differences.

You know, I do have the freedom of religion. Created by of two clauses, granted by the First Amendment that says the government can't trump one religion over another. Equality, right? Okay, I guess most people get that. Or do they?

Well, the second clause allows people do whatever are the requirements of their religion. I would think most people got that, too, until terrorists from halfway across the world planned these horrible attacks that threw Americans into fear. I was scared, just like any other person might be. And suddenly, the translation of terrorists became Muslims. Because the terrorist group who planned the attacks was Muslim.

I mean, the whole nation wasn't hating. Just some people. I was five in 2001, but I still felt the discrimination. And there really wasn't any explicit reason for it. If I didn't wear it, then people would have probably ignored me. It was another way for them to label me. Now you'll ask me what that “it” is. And I'll tell you.

A hijab. Otherwise known as a headscarf or veil, and of course, the derogatory terms, like towel head, ­diaper head, turban, and whatnot. Whatever it's called, it has a very important place in my life. For some, it's a choice: Yeah, I'll wear it when it's the right time, or I'm getting to the age when I think I should. But those who do wear it are viewed as suppressed women forced to wear it because the sexist, fundamentalist men who rule their household say they must. Not true, people. Totally not true.

I'm a Muslim girl who was born and raised in Brooklyn. I'm turning 16 and starting my junior year in the fall. My parents are from Bangladesh. So, that's pretty much my bio. But there's a lot hiding behind that bio. The first thing people see is the Muslim part of me. Some of the stereotypes include that I don't speak English, don't know how to dress like an “American,” am a terrorist, and eat smelly foods. Well, the last one might be true. But other than that, stereotypes have degraded me to no end.

I'm a practicing Muslim. I pray five times a day, stick to the rules, fast when it's time, and wear my hijab. This is how my life as a teenager is led. (And possibly will be, depending on choices I make in the future.) And I can do all that because of the freedom granted by the First Amendment.

That brings me back to that question. Why are people scared of me? I'm as harmless as a fly, even though I may not look it without makeup. Honestly, I think people are not scared of Muslims as a whole. They are scared of ­differences.

I'm pretty sure all of us have met at least one Muslim who ­wasn't a terrorist. Hey, you're reading the work of a non-terrorist Muslim right now. And let me tell you something else – those terrorists made their interpretation of our sacred book, acted upon it, and live in a whole different hemisphere. So why put all Muslims in the same group?

People think that the ideals presented in Islam are very different from American ideals. Actually, they aren't. And let me tell you something else. Muslims are all different races. They have different backgrounds but share the same book and abide by its rules. And isn't that true for Americans too? And I'm not talking about the book-and-its-rules part here. This American I speak of isn't a race, but to some, it's simply one classification. People need to face the fact that America is made up of many different ethnicities and customs.

And it hurts me to see that even those in my community, who are so diverse, are prejudiced against me. Me, my religion, my hijab. And those are all my choices. The choices I made because I had the freedom. You can see that I'm not doing anything to hurt people.

You know, that may be the choice of those narrow-minded people, but I hope they change their minds. They have the freedom to befriend and understand – as I, among many other individuals – had the freedom to make my choice about religion. These choices can decide the future of generations. These choices affect everyone, because who knows when hatred among people accelerates into other actions? Making the right choice is not only about us, it's about everyone. The way someone thinks and the choices they make are so important.

Who knows what the future holds? I already made my choice. Now it's your turn.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





Join the Discussion


This article has 75 comments. Post your own!

Watnobye said...
Mar. 2 at 9:42 pm:
I'm a Muslim from Bangladesh and I see where you are coming from. It gets really tiresome when people make that assumption, "All Muslims are Terrorist." No! They are not. Personally, the group Al' Qaeda are not true Muslims if they killed millions of people. Didn't they read the Quran where it clearly states Allah given us the freedom of choices?
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
bofobob said...
Sept. 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm:
This is a very well made piece and sends a strong message. I enjoyed reading this. And also, with the whole discrimination, it's because most muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are muslim.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Felicity said...
Aug. 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm:
Your article is well-written and I'm sorry that you had to deal with this. It is something that people have do deal with, more so the more different and those who are unfortunate to be claimed as the 'reasons' for horrendous acts. I do have somes questions about hte Hijab though. What does the Hijab stand for, exactly? Is it different to each wearer? What exactly does it represent for Muslims who choose to wear it? Thanks to anyone for answering these questions. :)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Jack Smith said...
May 29, 2013 at 9:21 am:
Not all Muslims are terrorists, but the majority of terror attacks in the US are done by Muslims.  Islam teaches the murder of Christians and Jews are good, and other nonbelievers are good. Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" There are tons of other verses too.  Not all Muslims are evil, but the religion of Islam is.
 
Sofia replied...
Jan. 5 at 7:08 pm :
I am not a scholar of Islam, but that means the people who do not believe in God; Christians and Jews believe in God. In fact, we believe that not just Muslims can go to heaven, people who follow their holy books can as well (ex. the Bible and the Torah).
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TanazMasabaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 24, 2013 at 3:11 am:
I'm a Muslim and I'm from Bangladesh too and I totally get what you are trying to say here. And I'm glad that this piece got printed in the magazine because apparently nobody really knows the difference between being religious and being a murderer.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm :
Yes, exactly my point! It just irritates me so much when people put labels on everything.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
RainyWriter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 23, 2013 at 12:00 am:
I love how unashamed you were in this article. I am not Muslim myself, but my relatives are from Indonesia, where (surprise, surprise, because it's not in the Middle East) the largest population of Muslims are. Funny enough, everyone there is Muslim there as everyone is Christian here. People seem to realize there are differing levels of Christians or Jews, etc, but don't seem to realize the same applies to Muslims. Much how like not everyone in the United States, or even the South, is a... (more »)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm :
I love your extremely positive tone. I hope there are many more individuals out there who share your same view!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
JRayeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm:
Really really well written! It's so true - when it comes down to it, we're all split up because of our differences. Beliefs, race, appearance...real messed up. Awesome job, keep it up! :)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm :
That is so true! Thanks for the feedback!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
SunballSunnyThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm:
i luv this one i read it in the TI magazine :)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm :
Thanks so much for actually coming online to post a comment! Most people just read things and move on. Thanks again!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Read2Live said...
May 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm:
Shalom! Your writing speaks to a great universal truth and I appreciate your strength and courage to share it with the world. I, too, have a Book & following its rules are the foundation of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this world with you & hope that those who read your story will be part of the change that makes room for all of us to live with respect & peace.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 27, 2013 at 10:16 am :
Thank you so much! I hope that many, many other people out in this world share the same outlook on life as you do.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
The_hijab_chica said...
May 17, 2013 at 7:09 am:
Thank you. This article has promoted me to go full time with my headscarf. Thank you.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 27, 2013 at 10:17 am :
I'm happy that my writing helped boost your motivation!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
purplezebra712 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 14, 2013 at 6:22 pm:
This is a very powerful peice. it was very well written, and adressed an improtant issue.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm :
Thanks so much for your feedback!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
hzavery said...
May 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm:
Thank GOD someone finally wrote this! I used to wear a hijab, but because of ppl bullying me and calling me a terrorist, I stopped wearing it. im glad you posted  this, well written
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback