I’m a Muslim. Some teenagers my age are not like me for one big and important reason, that reason is because I’m a Muslim. It’s not just my religion but it’s my way of life. So everything I have to do has a specific reason.
Last year in my math class, a boy named Carlos said, “Samira, do you have hair? Are you bald?” I turned around in my seat and oh my God, I was hurt and embarrassed at the same time. He really hurt me. I could tell you that he was a little embarrassed that he asked that because now everybody in class was waiting for my answer. And I dunno how he could’ve guessed that because he was sitting behind me and just by looking at my head he could have seen the hair bun on my head, on the back of my head. But I had to answer his question anyways. So I did. I said, “yes of course I have hair! Don’t you see it?” And I started holding my head from the back. I didn’t want to show that I was embarrassed because I just thought it was embarrassing. But I didn’t let that get in the way. I answered his question and then he kinda got interested in my religion. And after I said that it’s my religion and I can’t show it around men, especially those who aren’t my family.
So that day was embarrassing and good. It felt good because I really like it when people ask me about my religion because it makes me love my religion more. Once people around me find out they really get used to it and they’re friendly to me. I really like that.
One reason I wear the hijab is because I cover my head up. Hijab doesn’t just apply to Muslim women, but to men too. It’s like your attitude. It’s the way you act. Everything like that. As a Muslim it’s kind of hard for me to do things that teenagers do because it’s mostly against my religion, but it’s only for my good. And since I have the choice, I make my choices based upon my religion. And I’m really glad for my religion because it’s who I am. It tells me how to live. Not just how to but it explains everything, where it came from, where I’m going… I really like that about Islam.
People just don’t get it. I just want people to know that even though I’m a Muslim, I can be fun too. But, it’s kind of hard to get that out once people just start judging you on how you look. Just because I wear a black dress called abaya to cover myself up so I don’t get all that attention. And I do that on purpose, and some people might not know that because they don’t ask me. I know that some people do, but some people don’t. And who I am is really my religion. I’m a Muslim and I’m really proud of that. Really.
RECENT STUDENT WORK MORE STUDENT STORIES
Last month, StoryCorps traveled to the Philadelphia Folklore Project to record the stories of a group of students who were victims of targeted attacks.