Last year I prayed for understanding. Itseems as if my prayers were answered. I’ve always felt uneasy being one of few visible Muslims on this campus, but after the Sept. 11 attacks, I felt even more uncomfortable. The backlash began. I wasn’t harassed or assaulted, but the disdain in the eyes of people who hated or did not understand Islam, did more damage than sticks or stones ever could. Unable to change the events of Sept. 11, I continued to go on with life until one day a professor asked me to write a column for the Capital Outlook explaining the principles of Islam. The informative column indirectly led to three class presentations on the often misunderstood religion and numerous columns on my experience growing up. I never tried to hide my faith, but I wasn’t open to discussing it with non-Muslims. Some would say they felt sorry for me like Islam was some kind of disease I had and they hoped they wouldn’t catch. After a while, I felt sorry for myself. Yes, this likeable, outgoing student has insecurities. I never realized it until now, but all my writing and presentations were very therapeutic for me. Here I was disclosing very personal, and sometimes painful, moments in my life while explaining the religion that had been the cause of it. At last, a burden, nineteen years in the making, had finally been lifted from my shoulders. People always ask why I talk about my religion so much. The truth is that being Muslim is more than just lip service, but a way of life. My entire life revolves around it. My faith determines what time I wake up in the morning, what I wear, what I eat, my relationships with people, everything. I can’t run from who I am. Now, a year later, I can look in the mirror and know that I overcame the greatest attack of all – my low self-esteem. For that, I can say I’m a survivor.
Naeemah Khabir, 20, is a junior magazine production major from Philadelphia. She is The Famuan’s News Editor. She can be reached at naeemah518@aol.