‘From the second that I put it on, I instantly felt this relief and this sort of weight lifted off my shoulders.’
“I call it my ‘hijab story.’ I am a visibly Muslim American woman because I wear the hijab, which is a scarf that I wear on my head as part of my wardrobe. It’s a way of dressing modestly, which is something that Muslim women do, traditionally.
“I didn’t wear a hijab when I was in high school, but people that came into my life later, in my adult years, just assumed that this was part of my life always. Growing up, I had a very normal childhood — great time in school, great friends, went to college.
“I was about to start medical school and there were certain things going on in my personal life. I just felt like there were obstacles and I was at a point where I was feeling down. I like to be very positive and always have the glass half-full approach to everything that I do. So that little bit of sadness that just kind of stayed with me, no matter what I did, was really bothering me and I needed to get in touch with my spirituality.
I used to always hear the saying that if you take one step towards God, he’ll take a hundred steps towards you.
“I needed to do something that would help me feel more at ease. I used to always hear the saying that if you take one step towards God, he’ll take a hundred steps towards you. And I just said, you know, maybe this is what I need to do right now for me. And so, I decided that I was going to wear the hijab.
“It was a big decision because I knew the responsibility that came with that — everybody was going to look at me as sort of a symbol of this religion. So that meant that even though I’m not claiming to be the most pious person, I didn’t want any of my actions or anything that I did to tarnish or give a bad representation of my religion. It was a big commitment and I certainly wanted to do it when I was ready for it. I didn’t want to start wearing it and then take it off because then it gives people mixed signals and confuses everybody. I took all of these things in my mind and said, ‘You know, I think I’m ready for this,’ and decided to start wearing the hijab.
“And from the second that I put it on, I instantly felt this relief and this sort of weight lifted off my shoulders. That feeling of sadness and overwhelming feeling of anxiety, or whatever I was dealing with at that time, literally just vanished with like a snap of a finger. And I never looked back since then.”
The person profiled here has been a guest on Newsday Live.
Interviewed by Jay Max