For anyone that is interested and/or currently practicing in the medical field, whether that be through a career as a physician, PA, nurse, medical assistant, scribe etc, the reality of life is that the required… More
This past week, from March 9th to 18th, I had the honor and privilege to travel to umrah (Islamic pilgrimage) with the Islamic Center at NYU. This was my first time going on umrah and before I left, I had quite a mix of feelings but overall, the only word that I have to correctly describe the experience is: amazing. Umrah and Hajj are pilgrimages in the Islam religion that one is considered lucky to be able to perform. Umrah is voluntary and Hajj is required atleast once in your lifetime if one is able to perform it. It’s been a few days since we landed back in New York and I’m still coming to terms with the fact that being back in my “normal” life no longer feels normal.
To begin, I’d like to talk about what my thoughts and feelings were before we left for Medina. I was very overwhelmed as I made my way to JFK and I remember thinking things such as “I wonder if this trip will live up to my expectations” and “I’m not sure what I got myself into”. These thoughts were rooted from feelings of unfamiliarity and insecurity. I had grown up thinking of ever going to umrah or hajj as a foreign concept since no one in my family had ever been before. Many family members had tried to go and made dua to be able to perform these pilgrimages but never had the chance. I knew umrah was something that I really wanted to do at some point, but also unfortunately something that other things often took priority over. All in all, I didn’t know what to expect because the one question that all my feelings boiled down to was “why me?”.
Before we got on the plane, I had just gotten off the phone with my mother and my aunt (her older sister) who were both really happy for the opportunity that seemed to just fall into my lap but I could hear the pain in their voices through their happy and encouraging words, I had first hand experienced the emotional duas that both of them made to be able to be invited to the Holy Cities and I didn’t understand why their duas weren’t given to them but mine was. The tears that they cried imaging being able to walk in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and standing in the presence of the Holy Kaaba resonated in my heart as I cried confused tears of my own.For me, the two of them are model muslimahs. They embody the very essence of the type of person I want to be in the future, being someone who can balance deen and dunya with a grace that is nothing short of admirable. I stood there thinking about them and wishing it was them about to get on that plane instead of me. Wondering if they, or someone else would be able to make better use of the time there than I would.
This worry didn’t leave me until we landed in Medina, almost 24 hours later (because of a long layover in Jeddah airport). When I got off the bus, put my stuff down and took my first steps into Masjid al Nabawi, I felt instantly at peace but more importantly, it was as if I had come home. The sensation was consuming and hit me all at once, I was overcome with love for a place that was just an idea in my head only a short day ago. A place that I didn’t realize I would grow so attached to in the days to come.
For those that have been there, you might understand how welcoming the atmosphere is in our Prophet’s (pbuh) beautiful city. You might understand that no matter how much time you have to walk around the masjid and pray in it, it never seems like enough. You might understand why the tears just flow down your cheeks thinking about how much history you’re surrounded by. You might understand the feeling in your stomach as you go give your salaams to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and acknowledge the fact that he says salaam back. You might understand why my heart was so full when I was there, or you might not, but there are no words that can accurately describe the peaceful winds, mesmerizing sunsets, and amazing architecture that Medina and Masjid al Nabawi are home to.
Medina also gave birth to some of the most amazing friendships that I’ve made in my life. Alhamdullilah I have great friends in my life already but I met some girls on this trip that became my family in just a few short days. There’s something to be said about meeting someone and immediately clicking. I realized after meeting certain people that no one comes into your life when they do for no reason at all. Allah (swt) knows the reason and we don’t always understand what His infinite wisdom is but I do believe that we all met where we did and got along as much as we did because we were meant to. Being from different parts of the US (& Canada), we probably wouldn’t have ever crossed paths had we not all decided to go on the same trip for whatever our personal reasons may be. But now, only a short week and a half later, I can’t imagine my life without all the people I shared experiences with. Whether it be from going to the rawdah and creating a barrier so women could pray and send their salaams to the prophet, waking up for fajr, climbing up to the cave of Hira, or performing our first umrah, I’m thankful for every moment and every person.
Medina al Munawara was what gave my heart peace and alleviated my fears before we proceeded to Makkah al Mukarramah to perform our umrah. Makkah is home of the Holy Kaaba and you can feel the powerful pull of the city before you even enter into the vicinity of the Holy Mosque. When we were on our way there, I was filled with feelings of disbelief. My confusion as to “why me?” still didn’t go away even though I was coming to terms with the fact that I was about to see a place that I had only visited in my dreams. A place that billions of people around the world prayed towards 5 times a day. A place that I felt a connection to without having ever been there before. Understanding and acknowledging the fact that the only possible reason I felt so emotional upon our arrival was that I had an innate attachment to the birthplace of my beautiful religion.
Though there were instances throughout the whole trip where I felt as though my patience was tested and times that I thought I was too tired to go on, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been a few days now and I still can’t seem to get rid of the space in my heart that I think can now only be filled by going back. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting going into the trip, but I know that whatever it was, the experience surpassed it tenfold. These cities are so blessed in so many ways mash’Allah and you can feel that powerful, peaceful pull with every step you take. From every historical site we saw (such as Mount Arafat and the Cave of Hira), to every prayer I performed, I have truly never felt closer to Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) than I did when I was there, but I’m so thankful that feeling didn’t go away when I came back home. I left a piece of me behind but somehow I still feel whole. I came back with a newfound belief that no matter what happens, Allah (swt) hasn’t given up on me so there’s no reason for me to give up on Him. Finally for the past few days, I haven’t been able to think of anything to ask for because I know that all my duas will be accepted if they are right for me and I’ve been praying for this belief and conviction since as far back as I remember. All I can say is alhamdulillah, alhamdullilah a million times over.
May all of our duas and umrahs be accepted, may we be invited back soon, and may we be forgiven for all/any of our shortcomings or mistakes, inshallah.
Below are some of my favorite pictures from the best week of my life:
“It is not the cloth that oppresses the woman, it is the illiterate mind”
I started wearing hijab on May 22, 2014 after the spring semester of my freshmen year at Stony Brook University. It has been about two and a half years from that day and it honestly feels like I’ve never lived life without donning a scarf as I walk outside of my house. Wearing a hijab has become so much a part of who I am as a person and what being a Muslim means to me, shaping my identity in ways that I could’ve never imagined. I want to say that my story and what led me to wearing hijab is ground-breaking and earth-shattering, but in all honesty, my decision stemmed from a feeling in my heart that I interpreted as a sense of something being missing in my life.
My freshmen year of college was not an easy one. Going into Stony Brook, I thought I was prepared for what was to come as I walked across my high school graduation stage but I had no idea that my life was really going to change (at least to an extent). I was used to studying minimally and still being able to do exceptionally in classes but when I got here, I realized that I didn’t know how to study properly and had to deal with setbacks that I never expected. Aside from academically (which alhamdulillah, I was able to turn around), I was even having personal problems ranging from friends all the way to family.
Needless to say, nothing made sense. I would wake up, go to school, go to work and continue to follow a routine that felt unfulfilling, boring, and stressful. I knew that something had to change in my life, and I’m not ashamed to say that the answer didn’t come to me right away. However, the first thing that I turned to when my heart felt uneasy was reading Quran and trying to pray all my Salah’s on time and properly. The more I did this, the more I realized that even though my problems weren’t disappearing right away, my worry about them and worry about figuring out how to deal with them WAS alleviated. I felt more content and at ease than ever before and it could only be attributed to turning my heart to Allah (swt).
I remember thinking one night that what I’m doing is giving me so much peace but maybe I could do more. Hijab was never something that was at the forefront of my mind. I would wear it when I went to the mosque or any other religious setting and always thought I’d wear it one day but never assumed that I’d be so “young” when I did so. I recently read a quote from Yasmin Mogahed that stated “there will come a time in your life when you hear an inner voice. Sometimes it will scream that something isn’t right. Call it your gut, call it intuition, call it insight. Whatever you call it, don’t ignore or suppress this. A purified, believing, guided heart is meant to be a compass. Ignoring a compass will get you lost…” This quote fits exactly into how I felt before I went to sleep that night. I had a feeling that I needed to somehow do more, for me and for Allah (swt), and hijab continuously came to mind.
I woke up that day, a week before May 22, feeling determined and hopeful. Thinking back now, I believe I made my decision as soon as I first thought about it but I didn’t realize it at the time. So, I spent the next few days talking to the people closest to me about what I was thinking about doing and their opinions/suggestions. I had a few mixed reactions but overall there was unanimous support across that gave me the last push that I needed.
And…the rest is history.
Since that day, hijab has come to mean so much to me in ways that I can’t accurately describe. It is a garment that not simply covers my hair but empowers me in ways that I never imagined before. To me, it gives a sense of identity that I didn’t have before. Hijab is not only defined by the scarf I wear, but rather it is a way of being and acting. I always thought that to wear hijab meant that you had to be a perfect Muslim but in these past years, I’ve realized that it means more about working to be a better Muslim every day. I take time to remember Allah (swt) whenever I put it on and that alone helps me improve my imaan and keep it strong because I am wearing this for His sake. Hijab has brought me closer to my deen and I will forever be thankful for that.
Though it isn’t easy being a hijabi in this political climate, the words of Linda Sarsour described it perfectly when she said she’s “unapologetically Muslim”. I refuse to apologize for something that I consider to be a symbol of modesty, humility, beauty and above all, peace.
So, to all my sisters, whether you wear hijab, are thinking about it, or don’t: May Allah (swt) reward us for all the big and small steps we take to get closer to Him, and purify our intentions always. Happy World Hijab Day! ❤
When I’m in the market for new hijabs (and I almost always am hehe), some of the things that I look for most are durability, practicality, beauty and (perhaps most importantly) the cost.
I was first introduced to the brand “That Hijabi” at a New Jersey event called HijabFest 2016 and was immediately impressed by the different prints and the availability of such a wide variety of colored plains! What was even better was that they were affordable and seem to last a long time.
I would highly recommend this wonderful company run by such a sweet, smart, and talented designer who I look up to for following her dreams and helping those around her follow their own as well.
Below are some of my favorite looks with some of their hijabs, check them out and let me know what you think 🙂
I paired this navy polka dot hijab with a beige/tan colored long sleeve shirt and a navy blue tulle skirt. I considered this a very versatile style that could be combined with various different outfits and look amazing!
This white and black grid hijab, I paired with the lattice dress from UrbanModesty and a trench coat from Zara. I usually don’t opt for white with darker colors but I tried this outfit and immediately fell in love. I was out of my comfort zone but I’m so glad I took the risk.
Similar to the outfit above, this hijab was also styled with the same lattice dress from UrbanModesty and I loved the traditional grey with black combination.
This is one of my favorite hijabs/looks! The dress was made by my aunt from satin material (that I adore) which I paired with the black ruffle hijab. Though I found this particular style hard to wear at first, I watched their helpful tutorials and then it quickly became a go-to if I want to dress up a plain outfit. Highly recommend this unique hijab, you won’t regret it.
Last but definitely not least, the heartbeat hijab! I was initially drawn to this style because I love anything medical related and this totally fit my aesthetic haha. Aside from the cute heartbeat aspect, I love the versatility of this hijab which can go with practically any outfit. It is available in black also. Here, I decided to pair it with the sage green milk silk maxi from Kabayare Fashion. Such a casual but comfortable and appealing outfit.
I consider myself to be an observant person and one of the things that I’ve noticed through the years is the irony that surrounds the process and life-style of a medical profession. I have seen students and professionals at all stages of their education (undergrad, grad, practicing) that will preach to patients and family the importance of taking care of themselves, but yet the same professionals will fail to make their own self-care a priority.
Yes, you’re spending a large amount of your life studying and working tirelessly so you can take care of others but will you realistically be able to do that if you yourself aren’t okay?
Self-care doesn’t stop at doing everything you can to stay healthy, it also revolves around mental-health. It’s been found that happy people make those around them happier. With this in mind, I can’t stress how important it is to find things that give YOU happiness, and opportunities to destress.
This is something that has taken me a while to learn (and still struggle with). I’ve found myself always thinking about those I care about before myself and putting their needs before my own. Though this is noble in it’s own right, sometimes it is necessary to put that aside and make sure that in doing this, you aren’t sacrificing parts of yourself. There are times where your self-love should come first.
I got both of the items pictured above to serve as consistent reminders of this. The ring and bracelet both means more to me than simply pieces of jewelry.
The bracelet, which is from MyIntent, has the word “Naseeb” written on it. Naseeb (نصيب) is an Arabic word that means destiny or fate. I got this to serve as a reminder that no matter what hardships might come, I hope to always remember to believe in myself, believe in Allah (swt), and believe in the beauty of my dreams. Prophet Muhammad said “what has reached you, was never meant to miss you and what has missed you was never meant to reach you”. To acknowledge this is to know that whatever is written for you, will be yours, no matter what. To have faith in Allah’s mercy is to understand that what isn’t written for you, can be changed with sincere dua. Hopefully, when hardships come, the meaning of this world will give me enough hope to raise me up at my worst.
The ring (FYI, not an engagement one), which is from pandora, is named “Timeless Elegance”. This caught my eye because it’s a beautiful ring (right?) and it seemed to be something I could wear everyday without feeling as if it was too much. The reason I chose to get it however is because of the name. The word “timeless” stood out to me because in the same way that this ring could be described as timelessly elegant, your love for yourself should be unaffected by time also. We have instances in our lives that cause us pain and make our self-esteem/love hinder, and those are the times where it is most important to be able to be there for yourself. The people that love you will look out for you, but you have to always look out for yourself as well.
I hope that everyone can find small things that remind them how important they are and that taking care of yourself, while maintaining your happiness should always be one of the top things on your list.
For anyone that doesn’t know, on Tuesday 11/9/2016, Donald Trump became the new presidential elect for the United States of America, winning 290 electoral votes to Hilary Clinton’s 228.
I woke up earlier than normal that day. I knew I had to be at school by 8:30 AM for class, so I was at my voting site at 6 AM. I could barely contain my excitement because this was my first time voting in a presidential election (and I thought the Democrats had it). I walked in, confused where to go but finally got my ballot and made my way to the polling station. As I was about to go cast my vote, an older Caucasian gentleman in the booth next to me with a “Make America Great Again” hat smiled and said “choose wisely”. I knew what he meant but I thought nothing of it.
Throughout the campaign, I knew there were people that supported Donald Trump. We all knew that. He could say anything racist, misogynistic, demeaning and downright idiotic, but there were some people around the US that would still find some reason to say that it was acceptable. I would tell myself, everyone has different political ideologies and it’s important to be respectful of that. When Trump called for a Muslim ban, a wall to be built, and said terrible things about women, I remember feeling slight fear, but thinking that there was no way that America would ever let this guy win. For the whole time he was campaigning, I convinced myself that it was a joke, or it was a scam to make sure that Hillary Clinton would win, because could people really be blind enough to vote for someone that just spewed hatred? Whatever reasons American’s had, many of them did vote for him and whether intentional or not, they created an unsafe environment as a result. For anyone that is a person of color, from the LGBT community, or is amongst any of the groups that Trump targeted his hatred towards, the world took ten steps back in any progress that had been made.
When it started to become more and more clear that he may win the election, I felt numb. It seemed to me as if his winning would be validating the racist, misogynistic and offensive things that his campaign was based off of. The people that believed in the things he said, now had a green light to do whatever they wanted because hey, their candidate is going to be the new president. Racism, misogyny, and stupidity won the election last Tuesday.
It has taken me a week to be able to articulate my thoughts in relation to this and I still don’t know if I can adequately describe the way that I, and many others I know feel. I’m sure there are reasons aside all the bad that people voted for Trump, maybe they really thought he was the better of the two bad options, but whatever those reasons may be, he advocated for hatred and that fact won’t change even if he himself somehow does. It’s easy to look past certain things a presidential candidate says and does if it doesn’t affect you directly. The reality is that hate crimes against numerous minority groups are at a high, and people are being openly demeaning and racist to others. This is not okay. People should be uncomfortable with the thought of saying something that could be deemed racist. People should be uncomfortable letting one person represent a whole religion or culture. People should not feel as if they can tell someone “to go back to their country”, when this is their country.
I’ve been wearing hijab now for a little over two years and I’ve never hesitated putting it on before. Though I’ve experienced islamophobia in limited aspects, my safety was something I was sure about. I woke up on Wednesday wondering what it would be like after I walked outside of my house into a country where the majority didn’t want to accept me for the person that I am. It had been less than 24 hours since Trump won and I woke up to numerous “stay safe” messages and reports of hate crimes that had taken place in that short time. I didn’t know how to feel but I had tears in my eyes every time I thought about it. I still don’t know how to feel when I find myself looking over my shoulder ten times more if I’m going anywhere alone. I still can’t help but wonder if, when someone stares too long, they see me for me, or equate me to all that they hear on the news about “people like me”.
The last time I felt this unsure about my identity was last year, when Deah, Yusor, and Razan were executed in their home because of the fact that they followed Islam (My Brother was killed by Islamophobia). I remember thinking that could’ve been me, or my sister, or any one of the people that I love. Thinking about the reality of that situation still sends shivers through my spine. I could never understand what their family members feel, but the way that my heart mourned, it felt as if I knew them. They were such incredible people but their lives were shortened because someone was filled with an unfathomable amount of hatred.
I’m scared that things like that will become more common as a result of Trump’s win. I pray Allah (swt) will keep all of us safe and I trust Him to do so. Right now, and in the four years to come, I think the only think that any of us can do is stand by each other and try to be the best versions of ourselves in face of any adversity. I read somewhere “some people are racist because they’re bad people, but some people are that way because they don’t know any better.” Show those around you through your character and actions what kind of person you are and if they have not-so-great opinions, show them that they’re wrong. I know it’s not fair and it never will be but that is the world that we live in. I’m still confused, as I’m sure many others are, but I believe that this feeling will fade with time and I’ll feel at home in a country that I love.
The thing about difficult times is that you know they’re going to pass. You know that the voice in your head telling you that you’re going to be okay is absolutely right but it’s so hard to actually just let yourself believe that. You’ll get past this heartache or whatever is hurting/stressing you out because there’s no way that it will last forever…right?
Maybe 20 years from now, you’ll wonder why you let anything upset you so much and you’ll reminisce back on these feelings/times fondly because it made you the person that you are. Or maybe 20 years from now, you’ll think back and it’ll still hurt sometimes. To be honest, 20 years from now, you may still have “one of those days” and that is absolutely okay.
Right now, I’m going through a difficult time and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. But what brings me peace is knowing that eventually I’ll be okay, eventually I won’t feel the way that I do now and eventually it won’t hurt anymore. That almost makes the pain worth it because it’s something to hope for and as the days go on, that “eventually” helps me look through the clouds and remember that after every hardship comes ease.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Even if you think that you are, there is someone in your life that is looking out for you. I always knew that I had a great group of friends/family (alhamdulillah), but I’ve learned in recent weeks that these people have more love and light in their hearts than I could’ve ever imagined. The people I have in my close circle will drop every and anything (when that’s not the easiest thing to do) to try and put a smile on my face. I can’t thank Allah (SWT) enough because I don’t know where I would be without those that are helping put my ground back together when I didn’t think I had one to stand on anymore. Chances are, the ones you’re close to, will do the same thing for you.
When people go through hardships, relationships of any sort are put to the ultimate test, sometimes you’ll be disappointed because that’s life but there is always the chance that you’ll realize just how blessed you are when you may not have thought so. These times that may seem unbearable now are shaping you into the person that you are going to be. It might be a test to see if what you thought you wanted or needed was really the best thing for you and when you get through this, the answer to that might surprise you.
Whatever it may be, there’s going to be a time in the future that you’ll look back and you’ll realize how much progress you’ve made. Right now, whatever you’re going through, know that it is okay to be upset. Pretending that you’re not hurt or sad might be the worst thing for you to do for yourself. No one expects you to be 100% okay all the time, that’s impossible. The thing about pain, is that it demands to be felt. It may come in waves; it may come now or it may come later but there is a very real possibility that it will leave an aching hurt where there’s nothing physically wrong. But that ache will fade with time, and so will the pain that seems consistent right now.
Some days will be really bad and some will be better than others. If it ever starts to feel overwhelming, remind yourself of Yasmin Mogahed’s words “…when something happens that you dislike or that hurts you, be careful not to get lost in the illusion created by pain. Look through it. Find the message in the bottle. Find the purpose. And let it lead you to glimpse just a little bit more of Him.”
Take a deep breathe, you’ll survive this, whatever it is, you’ll get through it.
“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”
― Mitch Albom
One of the things that I’ve been struggling with recently is managing all the responsibilities that I’ve taken on and not having enough time to do them well. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always juggled as much as I could and every time I finally settled into a routine, I would add more to my list and it would continue from there. We’re conditioned to think that more directly equates to better, doing more will get you that new job, or acceptance into the school you’re aiming for, or the recognition that you’ve been craving.
But sometimes, doing more than what you’re doing is nearly impossible because you’re already struggling. Sometimes, the things you have to do are so lengthy in number, that you can barely manage them all, let alone do them to the best of your ability. I want to tell you, that feeling like you can’t do everything is completely normal. Speaking realistically, it is ridiculous to think that anyone could do it all because we’re all beautifully flawed.
The saying that “nobody is perfect” is more than just a saying when you really think about it. Everyone has different skill sets and different things that they are good at. Maybe you’re really good at biology but one of your best friend’s struggles with it and maybe that same friend is spectacular at drawing but you can’t even make a stick figure. No matter what it is, whether it deals with education or different skills, it is okay to fail sometimes because failing means you’re trying and trying means that you’re already a step ahead.
One of my really good friends, Shahla Partowmah, said that if you never take breaks, you’ll burn out and as long as you’re doing something productive, that’s all that matters. Yeah, you might be physically capable of doing more but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to. The more you take on, the more you run the risk of taking away from your potential and the quality of your work.
She stated that our struggle most likely comes from the “I want more” mentally that plagues our society. We always aspire to be better than what we are and we’re craving to reach a level of perfection that may be unrealistic. Our parents tell us to be grateful for the things we have, but they also continue to go on and compare us to people that seem to be doing better in life. No one is happy where they are and with what they’re doing because they want to do and accomplish more. But understanding that what you’ve achieved already counts more than what you have yet to do, will make all the difference.
This serves as a reminder to myself before anyone else because it’s something that I always seem to forget. I always feel as if I’ll never become the person I crave to be or accomplish all that I want to do but thinking of life with that negative perspective only serves to add to stress. Rather than thinking of it that way, thinking of it as “I’m exactly where I should be right now in my life and this is the best I can do” will motivate to go even further.
The most important thing to remember is that you truly can do anything that you set your mind to. Even if you’re not good at it today, you may excel at it the more you practice. Or you may never be that great, but regardless, accepting life’s failures and learning from them is what will matter in the end. The quality of your work will speak for itself and you truly have nothing to prove to anyone as long as you do the best you can do.