Archive for the ‘In My Own Words’ Category

As American as Apple Pie

Did Obama’s trip to Turkey help Muslims here at home? It depends on how you view my headscarf.

Last month, as I was watching the news coverage of President Obama‘s visit to Turkey, I thought back to an awkward experience I had as an undergraduate student applying for a job at my university. When I handed the receptionist at the student union my Social Security card, a required form of identification, she told me she needed my passport as well.

Surprised, I questioned the need for it. She brought over her supervisor, who glanced at my hijab—a headscarf worn by many Muslim women—and asked, “Aren’t you an international student?” “No,” I said. “I’m an American citizen. I was born in New Jersey.” Her mouth dropped open and she stammered, “Oh, you’re not a foreigner?”

It was not a new experience for me, as a Muslim growing up in this country. Before people learned my name, saw me run at a track meet or heard me debate an argument, they assumed they knew who I am.That’s why Obama’s decision to visit a Muslim country within the first 100 days of his presidency was such a significant moment for me. Hearing his unwavering, unapologetic message to the Turkish Parliament filled me with pride: yes, he told the world, Muslim Americans exist, and our existence has enriched—not impoverished—American culture. His words mirrored what I have long sought to convey to other Americans: that you can be both a devout Muslim and a patriotic American. Read more…

Categories: In My Own Words

Being American – and Muslim

April 6, 2009 Leave a comment

It was evening rush hour in New York City. 42nd St. was packed, and I was hoping I would make the bus. His voice came out of the crowd.

“Take that rag off!”


In my four months of working in New York, that was a first. Actually, that was a first in the seven years since I started wearing a hijab. A lot of people turned to look at me as he shouted those words. I don’t know exactly what I was feeling — some mixture of anger and embarrassment — but I knew I wanted to stop and explain to this man the significance of what he dismissed as a “rag.” He didn’t understand the one thing I cherished most, the thing that I took so much care in making sure I did right — my religion.

– Excerpt from article on
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Categories: In My Own Words