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January 20, 2013
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The tremendous difficulty of going against “the crowd” in today’s society is unfathomable. Some bigots feel that they are entitled to call me a terrorist because of my faith, my beard, and my refusal to discuss the absurd, disgusting, and absolutely horrifying things that they talk about. However, I always had thought this to be maturity. In 2011, I began following the orthodox form of Islam. The difficulty of going against my parents’ moderate Muslim beliefs was hard, but bullies found a way to make it even harder. Ever since I was young, I was taught that if anyone was bullying me or giving me a hard time that I should tell an adult. In seventh grade, one of my classmates was always calling me Bin Laden, yet I never understood why. After doing a little research, I understood the reason behind it. The next time he called me that, I reported it. The problem did not end. I learned the hard way that telling on people just doesn’t work! So I took an Islamic approach to the problem. My approach is patience, the only way to satisfy an aggressor. Although it took time back then, I ended up changing him; I still talk to him today and we are amazing friends.

In high school, I began growing out my beard as a demonstration of my faith. Ever since then, patience has been difficult. One aggressor is fine, even when everyone is laughing at me, but when everyone is the aggressor, the difficulty skyrockets. “Go back to the sand;” “Get out, towel head;” “Stupid terrorists;” and the oh-so-popular, “Hey, look, it’s Bin Laden!” I've been able to bring a few people to reason; however, others look like they will need more work.

I have a plan though! I’m going to prove to all these bullies that just because I have a beard and I believe in Islam, I am not a terrorist. My father is the paragon of the American Dream. Humorously, for the bullies, he works at an airplane factory. He works more than 12 hours a day making parts for planes. My father once said to me, “Do you know why I wake up at 4am and work until 6pm?” Naively, I replied, “I don’t know, to get money?” He smirked and replied, “I work so much so you can go to college and get a job where you don’t have to do back-breaking work!” This had such a huge impact on me; words fail to describe the pride that I began having in my father. My dream is to create a greater life. No obstacle shall impede me that I cannot overcome! If I were to become half the man that my father is, I would consider myself to be successful beyond measure. I vow that none of his strife will be lost in vain. I promise that I will give him such a life of luxury that he will never once question any decision that he made in his life. I will succeed for him even if bullies discriminate against me. I promise to change ignorant people and teach them maturity, respect, and knowledge of my religion, through my patience and my compassion. Then perhaps they will say, “you are so kind, so patient – you must be Muslim.”

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