Stepping out of your comfort zone can be terrifying, but sometimes in life, you have to get out of your comfort zone in order to grow, see new perspectives that life has to offer and become open-minded.
Muslim Student Association club (MSA) hosted Islam Awareness week from April 22-26, 2019. This was an opportunity for CSUSB students to learn what the life of a Muslim is like.
Nadine Barakat, a member of MSA, mentioned that during Ramadan Muslims fast food and water for a month. They do this from sunrise to sunset. The purpose of the month is to bring individuals closer to God and to strengthen their relationship with Him. Many Muslims around the world participate. Eid is the celebration we observe once the month of Ramadan is over.
“The part I love the most is that it brings people together from all ends of the world, said Barakat.
“Islam 101 -What is Islam all about?” was posted on April 22, 2019. People were welcomed to come and learn about Islam and ask any questions you had about Islam.
“Ramadan-Striving for excellence” on April 23, 2019, explained how Ramadan works.
“Tea time with a Muslim” happened on April 23, 2019, in front of the Santos Manuel Student Union. MSA gave out green tea, and students had the opportunity to ask members of MSA anything they wanted to know about Islam.
A member of MSA asked me if I wanted to try on a hijab. She explained to me that Muslim women wear as part of their religion. I tried the hijab on because why not, I wanted to see how I would look. I was nervous trying on the hijab, but once I was able to see how I looked, I didn’t feel nervous anymore. I think it was the fact that I was trying on something I wasn’t used to.
“The hijab is an obligation that God tells Muslim women to do so, said Elhanafy, it is to teach Muslims the concept of modesty and to develop their connection with God.”
Another member of MSA asked me if I wanted to do the hijab challenge. She said if I wanted to wear the Hijab all week, for the rest of the day, or for an hour and see how people react towards me, if people act differently, basically observing and getting to feel what is it is like being in someone else’s shoes for the day.
I accepted the challenge. I wanted to see how stepping out of my comfort zone would feel. I wanted to spread awareness as well and learn more about the Muslim religion and the community.
“It is important to me since it is part of my identity now, said Barakat, one of the first things people can see about me is that I am Muslim. It has its pros and cons, but I enjoy breaking barriers and changes people’s perceptions about me and Islam.”
I did not except feel awkward or out of place but for the two days that I decided to wear the Hijab I was able to experience things that I never have experienced before. The first day I wore the Hijab was April 23, 2019. From mid-day when MSA offered me to wear the Hijab for the challenge until I got home that night.
Wearing the Hijab, the first day I noticed people staring at me more than usual. I felt uncomfortable and out of place. Like if there was something wrong with me. Even though I knew nothing was wrong with me, I still felt that insecurity that was eating up inside of me. I came to the realization that people around the world are always going judge before knowing anything about you, people are always going to have perceptive of on another, but we should come together as human begins and educate each other instead of looking down at each other.
The next day I wore the Hijab to my workplace. Wearing the Hijab here took a twist I wasn’t expecting at all. My students were surprised I was wearing a Hijab. Some students said comments like “you look weird” “why are you wearing that, take it off” “are you having a bad hair day” even one student said “Miss Bri don’t bomb us” that’s when it really hit me. Although I was getting all these comments throughout my day at work one of my students said “I am proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone, people are so easy to judge, said Sherrve, but in reality anyone can do harm, there isn’t one group that we should be blaming, this whole society is to blame.” This goes to show that these stereotypes people have of the Muslim religion are constantly
“The month of Ramadan is important because it allows Muslims to detach themselves from food and drink in order to increase the remembrance of Allah, said Elhanafy. It important to me because I get to practice reflection and remember god more.”
It made me frustrated that I was getting these comments from my students. Society is always ready to judge in an instance. I let all my students know that it isn’t right for them to say comments like the ones they gave me. Even if this isn’t my religion or their religion, they still have to be accepting and understanding of others around them.
We all live in this society, share different values, but we are all trying to survive from everyday stereotypes that society likes to throw at us.
“Everyone is different and goes through different circumstances, said Barakat, something that is easy or normal to me may be the opposite for others. It’s important to remember to not generalize and classify everyone as one specific category.”