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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.




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This article has 76 comments. Post your own!

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
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm :
I hate it when people discriminate against religion. That's just so ignorant and stupid. It really makes my blood boil. And it also takes a lot of strength and patience to not react to the bullying.
 
LunaLives replied...
May 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm :
I was in the same boat for a very long time. It's nice to finally see someone speak up.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm :
Thanks! I'm so happy that I was able to voice the opinions of others through my piece!
 
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junedayThis 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 13, 2013 at 5:19 pm:
This is a very impassioned article...I can really feel your outrage.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm :
It's great to know that someone can understand me! ;D
 
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Paradox_of_Life said...
May 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm:
Keep up the strength. Subhanallah. -a proud Muslim
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm :
Thank you so much! ;P
 
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Silver2blackThis 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 12, 2013 at 8:41 am:
I agree, I greatly enjoyed this inspiring massage and thank you for your courage in speaking out for the Muslim nations'  rights! Asalaamu 3alaikum :D
 
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Silver2blackThis 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 12, 2013 at 8:41 am:
I agree, I greatly enjoyed this inspiring massage and thank you for your courage in speaking out for the Muslim nations'  rights! Asalaamu 3alaikum :D
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 12, 2013 at 9:11 am :
Thanks! Walaikum Assalam ;P
 
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Someone2know said...
May 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm:
This is Beautiful.. Great job :)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm :
Thank you so much!!!
 
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Little_Blue_Lights This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 8, 2013 at 10:21 am:
 I've always tried to be resonable when I'm with people from other views. I remember a girl I met at leadership camp who was Muslim, but that isn't how I rememeber her. I remember her as a girl who was funny, friendly. intelligent and Muslim. I can't understand anyone who would write off a group -any group- as "all the same" or "evil" or "dangerous." While I may not see eye to eye with them, it doesn't mean respect isn't possible. Th... (more »)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm :
Thanks so much for your feedback!
 
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iluvrockandroll2 said...
May 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm:
I love your writing!! Its awful that this country can be so ignorant sometimes, and cannot see that not all muslims are "terrorists" and it is only an intrepretation.  Keep it up :)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm :
Thanks so much!!!
 
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SaphiraBrightscalesThis 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 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm:
Assalam-o-Alaikum! , there! Hey girl, this article and the honesty and sincerity with which you said all this truly made me proud. Telling people how this isn't the true Muslim picture, the one they have painted for everyone to see..I I'm soon going to write this article about the origins and history of the Taliban and how they ended up being related to Muslims and also how all terrorists aren't Muslims.. I'll let you know when I do, cause I sure hope you read it.... It will most... (more »)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm :
Thank you so much!!! I absolutely want to read your fact-based commentary. It sounds really interesting. Do let me know when you finish!!! ;P
 
SaphiraBrightscalesThis 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. replied...
May 25, 2013 at 4:13 am :
Oh you're welcome!! :DD ANd well,, I've been gone for a long time due to exams...gone as in away from this amazing world.. But now I'm back and that article isn't yet done ...just needs some more time but I'll sure let you know when I post. I'll comment on here when I do okay? Love, Saphira.
 
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