Online Courses

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Welcome everyone!

I originally said I was going to write a piece about the Orlando shooting and I still will. I’ve decided to postpone until I can put more thought and effort into because I found an article very similar to what I was writing and well…. plagiarism. What I am going to touch on this week is: taking online courses.

I, like many others, fell under the guise of the Disnified vision of “Oooooo online courses are easy!” “It’s all online!” “You can do it in your pajamas!” No. No. NO. These all apply if you take one online course, and do not work a job, or take other courses. In all honesty, I miss the classroom. I have one course this Summer that isn’t online and two that are. I hate online classes because I always feel like I’m forgetting something. A paper, a museum visit, a quiz, an exam, something.  I spend twice as long double and triple checking assignment due dates which soon, thanks to me picking up a second job, I won’t have the time to do. Working two jobs and taking 10 credits isn’t bad……. as long as your time management skills are on point.

I’ve been asked time and again, “Why so much?” “Why are you putting yourself under all of this pressure?” etc. Honestly, I wanted the challenge. It’s forcing me to grow up and mature in ways I probably wouldn’t have done so otherwise (e.g. trading out my sleep hours for homework hours). If you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t grow, and you won’t know all that you’re capable of. So push yourself to your limits not just this Summer, but everyday for the rest of your life. The worst thing that can happen is that you get up with scraped knees. They’ll heal. It’s better to try and fail, than to never try and always wonder, don’t you think?

Ramadan for Reverts

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Ramadan Mubarak Everyone!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for such a long time. I’ve been undergoing several personal crises and trying to figure out what direction my next steps should be in. It’s finally led me to get back to blog writing and starting a YouTube channel. If there are any topics that you would like to see me cover, and they can be anything really, please send me an email at theblackhijabi@gmail.com

The topic I wanted to touch on today (as you probably guessed from the title) is touching on Ramadan for reverts. Alhamdulilah I took my shahadah two weeks ago and its been an extremely tumultuous but very worth it. However, that is a story for another day. Ramadan is a time for Muslims to get together, reflect on and learn/memorize the words in the Qur’an, reflect on the less fortunate, but most of all, it is time for us to become better Muslims.

When a Revert takes their shahadah, there are several cries of “MashAllah!” or “Allahu Akbar!” which is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Sisters exchange numbers with sisters, brothers with brothers, and everyone is excited. For a while. The sisters and brothers open up their homes to Reverts but eventually both parties stop messaging. Here in the U.S., unless you’re extremely close with someone, its considered rude to just invite yourself over to someone’s house, even with an open invitation. Enter Ramadan. For many Reverts, like myself, they are the only Muslims in their families and Ramadan, can be one of the most lonely times of the entire year. We go to the masjid and pray, by ourselves, we have suhoor, by ourselves, we have iftar, by ourselves, many of us, in our rooms, or alone in our apartments. We buy ourselves Eid presents. There are no iftar gatherings for us. Just breaking the fast, with a prayer, and a couple dates. Alone. For us, Ramandan sadly is just another month on the calendar. Even Christmas is more exciting. Everybody is home from school, and because of this, it is so easy to fall back into patterns of haram behavior. In this society that we live in, it is so important to build a Muslim network of support. It helps you keep your morals and your values alive in a place who’s values are the complete opposite of what you just switched yours to be. So please, continue to keep the ummah strong, and make extra effort to include those who don’t have that same luxury. Imagine the baraka and rahman that comes from this.

Jazak Allahu Khayr and Ramadan Karim!

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Acceptance

Hi everyone!

So as I promised, this week’s post will be on how people have responded to me wearing the hijab. I felt like this post was really important to do because it just may give someone else the courage to do many things whether its wearing the hijab or coming out to your family (you’ll see why in a minute).

I’ve been wanting to wear the hijab since I was 14 (I also mentioned wanting to convert at that age when in a previous post) but I didn’t for two reasons, one because I was turned off by some of the people in high school who were Muslim, and because of what my family would say or think. Eventually I got to the point in my life where when it came to religion, I was searching for the truth (which is an entirely different story that I may post one of these days :D). Fast forward to November 22, 2015, the first day I went outside wearing hijab. There wasn’t really anything different about that day. I went to work (at my retail job) and my coworkers simply asked if I was a Muslim. I said no, and explained that I was doing a 7-day hijab challenge as part of researching religion. When I got home that day my parents just kind of looked at me and asked if I was a Muslim now. Again I said no and they proceeded to ask me a few questions, “Well why are you wearing it?” “What did they say at work?” ”How does it feel?” but their main concern as was one of mine “Is it offensive to wear hijab because you’re not a Muslim?” I just answered their questions calmly and told them that no it wasn’t offensive. I had done my research and asked a few Muslims that I knew and I got a unanimous “No it’s not offensive! I think it’ll look good on you!” (well not in so many words but you get the point.)  The toughest nut to crack was my grandmother. Older people are set in their ways and ironically I started wearing hijab right around the time of the Paris attacks. She had no real knowledge of Islam except for there were Muslims that were and were not in ISIS. For example, she had no idea that Muslims believe in Jesus. She assumed right away that I was becoming a Muslim and coming from her staunch Christian viewpoints she couldn’t understand why I would do that. Don’t get me wrong here, she’s not the kind of Christian to pretend the Bible is perfect and that there are no flaws to Christianity so please don’t read this thinking that she feels all “holier than thou.” She felt a little bit better about it but to this day she is not happy that I continue to wear hijab and she wishes I wouldn’t.

I started working my second job (nanny) in January after I had decided to keep the scarf on. My boss hadn’t even noticed that I was wearing it until we left her house together one day. She said I look like a Muslim in a very nonchalant way, and asked if I was. I told her no but that I wear a scarf because I believe in God. She said oh wow, she thought it was cool and told me I looked beautiful with it on and we haven’t spoken on it since. I watch her son, he’s like my little brother. He hasn’t said a word to me about it. I’m not even sure if he notices it.

There wasn’t really any discussion on my new attire until after the seven days had passed. I simply explained that after the encounter I had with a man the day I decided to take the scarf off (read about it in my first blog post) and I decided that my life is given so many benefits through wearing the scarf, including protection from getting hit on by all types of creeps in the street.

All in all, I stopped myself from doing something I always wanted because I was afraid of what people would say or think when really all they wanted to do was understand. If you want to do something different or if you have something you really need to say or if you want to come out of the closet but the fear of the reaction of others is stopping you don’t let it (as long as you’re not trying to harm anyone). I let eight years go by before I put on a scarf. That’s eight years I could’ve been doing what I wanted with my life. Some people’s reactions are going to be more extreme than  others but just keep calm, answer all the questions, explain yourself thoroughly. The truth of the matter is that you’re family will always love you simply because they’re your family.

Life Struggle: Moving Back Home After College

Hi Everyone! Sorry that it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve been doing a lot of things lately and life has been pretty hectic. I went back to school full-time, I started working two jobs and I went to Mexico about two weeks ago. Anywho, I will be doing my best to post minimally once a week for you all.

For those of you who don’t know, I left school to be closer to home for a while, while the administration at college figured some things out and my grandmother was sick. However, I’m back on track and I am taking some courses back home before going back. As many of you may know (if you’ve left home to go to school), when you come back, things are not how you left. You have this new found sense of freedom and independence and have thoroughly come to enjoy not having to follow anybody’s rules or not having to answer to anyone. Enter, the power struggle. You want to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and however you want to do it (e.g. no mom, I do NOT care about how shiny the granite countertops are). Yes, that is a real argument in this household. If you’re like me, you are the oldest child. It is by every means, the worst position to be in for things like this. Being the oldest means you are the living experiment. The test run, the trial-and-error kid which is ridiculously stressful for all parties involved. My parents didn’t know how to deal with having an adult for a daughter and I didn’t know how to not be so independent. I think partially what makes the moving back home experience so uncomfortable is that you go away to school, you start to find yourself, you’re encouraged to spread your wings, blossom, and be you, and then when you come home you just feel so stifled, like you’re being contained in a box and you’re no longer allowed to be yourself, which is partially true in a way. Needless to say there have been several, and I do mean several growing pains. That by far I think is the biggest struggle any college student has coming back home to live with their parent. There are times where you’re so grateful that you don’t have to cook for yourself, or buy the groceries and its almost like the Heavens open up and you hear angels singing when they take you shopping. Then there are those times where you just hate everyone, stay locked inside your room and plot on how you’re going to move out in three months all while making $10.00 an hour (yes you somehow manage to convince yourself that eating Ramen for the next couple of years everyday straight will be worth it), and then you cry out of frustration. Be that as it may, my parents and I have gotten better at communicating, I’ve gotten better at following rules, and they have gotten better at recognizing that I’m an adult and that while I’m still their child (and apparently I always will be or something of that nature) that they have to let me make my own choices and decisions and trust that they have raised me well. They’ve learned to give me freedom, for which I am very thankful for. I must say God has taught me the importance of patience and increased my value for thorough communication throughout this short but oh so important journey because I would not have survived all this time at home (Love you Mom & Dad).

(Next Week: How has wearing the hijab been received by my both my family and my jobs)

Why Do You Wear the Hijab?

Welcome everyone! Thanks for taking the time out to check out my blog, TheBlackHijabi, which chronicles my day to day (or noteworthy) experiences I come across in my life as a Hijabi. As a child, I grew up in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood (no Hijabis walking around), in a Mexican family which contrary to popular belief, does not mean that there was a bunch of Catholicism to go around. My dad left the Catholic church when he was just a boy and my mother grew more believing in God than anybody else. Growing up, I was always very spiritual. I prayed a good three to four times a day and I felt like it added some positivity to my life that I so desperately needed. I felt safe during prayer if no where else. My grandmother used to take my sister and I to church every Sunday. I loved it and she hated it. My grandmother was the only person in our lives that ever pushed religion, my parents did not. As we got older, religion began to take a backseat in our lives and physical and Earthly responsibilities hopped into the drivers seat.

When I first started seeing Hijabis on a daily basis, I had begun my freshman year of high school. I had a very general idea of what Islam was and I knew what a Muslim was but beyond that I really hadn’t a clue. While I was in my World Studies class one day, I had some sort of weird out of body experience, and I felt like there was a scarf on my head and from that day forward I decided I wanted to learn more about Islam, I was 14 at the time. I had never felt at home in a Christian church growing up. There was always people gossiping and people that I knew to be Christians weren’t very Christian-like at all, and that didn’t sit very well with me. I had hoped that this time I had found something different, something better, but within a couple years, I would be severely disappointed.

I didn’t know where to begin or even what to ask, but life took a front seat again and I went on my merry way. I began to feel the urge to learn about Islam once more my sophomore year and got ready to begin again. Where I went to school, all of the Muslim students except for one was of Middle Eastern decent. I had actually begun to date one of them after we had had a conversation about faith, and of course after people found out came the inevitable statement: “BUT SHES BLACK.” This voice of fear spread like wildfire and my boyfriend at the time was taking so much heat (e.g. “it’s not that she’s not a Muslim, if she wasn’t Black I wouldn’t have a problem with her) that I called it quits. It broke my heart, not because I was in love, but because he had been too afraid to stand up for me, too afraid to defend his choices, and because I thought I had found something worth learning and within a couple weeks I completely turned away, and I hadn’t even asked one single question. I was 15. I wouldn’t turn my thoughts back to Islam until the age of 22.

At the age of 20, I had reach a very low point in my life. I was in college, drinking, partying etc. and living my life in a very un-religious/spiritualistic way. I was depressed, my grades started slipping and I once again began to pray. I cried out to God and asked Him to take away this pain, to send me some sort of sign that He knew I was there, that He heard me, and that I belonged to Him. I met the most wonderful person I have ever met in the library of my University  who was preaching the Gospel in a way I had never heard before about two days after I had called out to God. It immediately piqued my interest and I thought to myself, “This is it, this is the sign.” I went with her, did a Bible study and immediately got baptized.

While studying, one of my closest friends at school, converted to Islam and the cycle of interest began again, but I never even made it to a Mosque. Thanks to God, a couple months ago, I spontaneously Googled “Why do women wear hijab?” and from there my research began to take off. I have learned so many things from Islam, and through my research I was informed that not just in Islam, but in Judaism and Christianity women are commanded to cover their hair as well. Across the three Abrahamic religions, women are commanded, by God to cover their hair. That isn’t just some sort of odd coincidence, that alone is a sign.

I was so conflicted about putting the scarf on because I absolutely love my hair (I have huge curly hair that I wouldn’t trade for the word) and because I didn’t want to offend anyone, since I am not a Muslim. I did my research and found that most Muslims encourage women to try the hijab and that it would not be a problem. I began to wear the hijab on November 22, 2015, as part of a 7-Day hijab challenge. Here is where I would like to clarify something. Hijab does not refer to the scarf itself necessarily, it is that act of dressing modestly. There are several debates about the scarf being mandatory (wajib) or not and what “Hijab” is precisely. So I not only covered my hair, but I wore high necked shirts, long pants, and looser fitting clothes.

I can not put into words the amount of freedom I felt. I didn’t have to meet society’s beauty standards. I didn’t have to worry about my pants being too tight or my shirt being too short or if you could see my bra strap or my underwear through my leggings. I didn’t have to spend time doing my hair if I didn’t want to. I felt so respected, so empowered. I felt more like a woman than I ever had before. I felt as though men on the street respected me much more. I used to get whistles and animal noises when I walked down the street, and now: peace. Wearing the scarf made me embrace my femininity in a way that I never had. It gave myself worth a major increase. I took pride in my appearance, I discovered I could look just as good, even better than I had when I was wearing the tighter, revealing clothing.

After the seven days came to an end, I went outside without the hijab. I felt naked. On my way to work, I had been stopped by some man who bothered me all the way to work trying to get my number, throwing me tons of compliments and I was just so uncomfortable, that I have worn hijab just about everyday (there was one day I went to work with my hair uncovered).

Wearing the hijab forced me to refocus my lifestyle and my obedience to God. It helped me realize (through my feelings of empowerment) that my relationship was unhealthy and gave me the strength to finally walk away for good. It has helped me become a better person, and forces me to think twice about my actions. Before the hijab, there were certain things I wouldn’t do or say in public because I am Black, in the same way, there are certain things I now cannot do or say because I am a hijabi, and people will automatically assume that I am a Muslim and I wouldn’t want anything I do or say to reflect poorly on Islam. It doesn’t bother me at all though, I am already used to scrutiny from others, and I now feel as though I am truly projecting my best self forward. Honestly I can only thank God for that. God doesn’t command us to do things for his benefit, its for ours. The hijab is such a small, but powerful example of that.

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