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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!

SaphiraBrightscales 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 25, 2013 at 10:14 am :
That's great! I'll be waiting!
 
SaphiraBrightscales replied...
Sept. 8, 2013 at 4:10 am :
Hey there, how've you been. I think firstly I need to apologize. I'm sorry I've been quite a nuisance. well, here's my excuse.. when I finally finished writing it My daddy forbade me to publish it, like not even anonymously, he said that kind of writing is dangerous...I dunno...didn't explain much, just said, "no". So I can't post it anywhere. If there is any other way to  get you to read it, do suggest. And I really am sorry. :((
 
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Dreamer_ said...
May 7, 2013 at 11:12 am:
Really well done! I'm glad you got this out there, what with all the news going on about us muslims. I totally agree with your views and hope it changes other peoples views on islam :)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2013 at 7:04 pm :
Thanks so much!
 
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writesomethingalwaysThis 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 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm:
Very well written, and I completely agree with what you said. Although I think it is safe to say that most terrorists are Muslims, that does not mean most Muslims are terrorists. In fact, most Muslims are just trying to live their life happily like anyone else, and even though I do not agree with the religion, I agree wholeheartedly that they should be able to worship who they please. I also do not think that people should shun Muslims because of their differences. While the hijab ... (more »)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm :
Thanks so much for your feedback!
 
writesomethingalwaysThis 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. replied...
May 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm :
You're welcome! Keep up the awesome writing! :)
 
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GracieBlackburn said...
May 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm:
So true! One thing I would like to say, although this may just be me. I think there are no "races." There is the human race, according to science and many beliefs. We are all the same. We bleed, cry, love, laugh. We think, feel, breath the air. There is not one person on this earth better than another person. You're right, Writingrocks. We are all the same and all unique at the same time.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm :
That little part would be a really good poem, if you wanted to write one. Thanks for the feeback!
 
GracieBlackburn replied...
May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm :
Thank you, and you're most welcome! Maybe I will write a poem, thanks for the idea. I love poetry.
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm :
Go for it!!! Let me know how it comes out when you're done!!! :P 
 
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Miket123 said...
May 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm:
This is Beautiful.
 
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Scribbleaway. said...
May 4, 2013 at 2:30 am:
I am a muslim as well and I think this article will somehow bring a change in the thinking of people. Muslims are just human beings. Islam is the ideal religion to lead life and it tells me to be good to everyone no matter which race they belong to. So, I will be good to you no matter how you behave towards me and label me. I am a Muslim and a good person. Those terrorists however are just so called muslims. They are not following what Quran tells us to. So please, Dont label us because what the... (more »)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm :
Thank you so much for understanding. I just hope that my work can help change other people's views of Muslims. 
 
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gerry said...
May 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm:
i certainly believe that birds of a feather belong to the same flock.so the crap behind moslem extermist terror groups may have some truth in it a really satirical religion.
 
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khuloodf This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm:
I have tried and tried to make the same point in my writing, but I never quite knew how to phrase it. You did it perfectly, though. The mixture of seriousness and humor made you sound like a friend, and I hope that comes across to everyone who reads this! One comment I have, though, is that it should be made clear that a terrorist is a person, not a representative of a religion. No matter what yreligion you practice, you are prone to be both bad and good, so calling Muslims terrorists is totally... (more »)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm :
Thanks! It honestly feels so great to find someone who understands me. Keep writing! ;P
 
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WriterHeadThis 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 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm:
thank you.... all i can say is thank you. :)
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm :
I really appreciate the fact that people share the same opinion as me!
 
writingrocks This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm :
Thanks for understanding!
 
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