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I am, who are you?

The oceans collapse and waves timidly kiss the shore. I think of everything being washed away, the mistakes, the heartbreaks. We make such messes in life and at times—unintentionally. Wiping the surface clean only conceals what is underneath. It's only when you really dig down deep, you begin to see who you really are. “Who we really are”—are words that appease a few and troubles most. My entire life has been dedicated searching for similes that spell my name. A journey filled with many failed attempts and a few endeavors, and all in the pursued of unraveling the great enigma that lies underneath. Though life is not about finding yourself; it’s about sculpting the person you aspire to become. We must undergo experiences that are meant to strengthen us and remind us the ultimate purpose of life—submission.

Reflecting on an earlier time in my journey, I recall sitting in the park at midnight. Receiving a phone call—your best friend is dead but her baby is still breathing. I could not bring myself to cry so I prayed to God, a foreign concept I have had not mastered yet. I was eighteen and for the first time I felt the power of prayer. Loss taught me that faith is the utter most important aspect in life. Through heartbreaks, disappointments and mistakes—I found God in my darkest days.

Accepting Islam as a way of life is perhaps my greatest accomplishment thus far. I have learned that people are imperfect and at times possess stereotypical understanding of religion. I, too, was a victim of my own ignorance. People do not represent God, and I knew that I required seeking a deeper meaning of religion. People often times ask me how I came to this conclusion. I have never been content with the defined and I find myself maneuvering through life questioning. Through late nights reading books about religion and prayer, I began my journey of faith by taking the first step and embracing the Hijab. A self-propelled decision for the sake of God.

This past summer, four years later, on a train to London at 2am, a man asks, “why do you cover your head”—I began explaining the beauty of the veil and all the mercy it encompasses. He smiles and walks away. A part of me felt ashamed. I realize I have become the opposite of what I preach. I have become the person I never wanted to meet—habitual, hypocritical and ungrateful. We become so comfortable with certain emotions and a certain state of knowing, we fail to grow past it. We transfer the most meaningful acts into pretensions, and in my case—something as profound and godly as the Muslim veil has become an insincere habitual act. The emphasis on outer appearance hindered my spiritual growth. God is much Greater, beyond scarves and beards. It took me a long-time and much painful acknowledgment to achieve this realization. While a part of me continues to seek knowledge, the other part is perturbed at the thought of stepping outside every morning without fulfilling one of the most important aspects of faith. However, before learning to be faithful, I must master the art of sincerity, even when no one is looking. After all, when it is all set and done, we are only accountable for the life we have lived.


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