I'm 23 years old from Bloomfield Hills, MI. I'm currently studying social work at Wayne State University and love anything sparkly, singing R&B at coffee shops, street wear, volunteer work, long car rides and having heart to heart convo's with strangers. Oh and I do great Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions ;)
1) Tell us about your journey with hijab; when/why did you start wearing it, what were the factors involved in your decision?
My real Journey started this passed summer. I was a returning counselor at Camp Al-Hilal. I was struggling with my prayers and faith and I told myself that during this week- long period I was going to try my best to get in touch with my faith. It’s like God was opening his doors for me. I was astounded by this spiritual high I was experiencing. The entire week my duas (prayers) were being answered. Overwhelmed with so many feelings I broke down in tears by the end of the week. I was in a state of spiritual awakening. Not because I was a self-righteous Muslim, but God was blessing me with his mercy and opening his doors for me.
This feeling continued into the month of Ramadan and during the last 10 nights of Ramadan. I experienced something amazing I had a flashback to the summer of 2009 in Syria. I was at a hijab store and as I was admiring the different patterns and rich fabric I came across a hijab that I couldn't keep my eyes off. The merchant told me to try it on. I frantically put on the hijab pleased at what I saw when I looked in the mirror. At the time the merchant asked me if I was planning on putting on the hijab. I said like many others I would put it on one day when I was ready. The merchant then told me to keep the hijab as a gift and to wear it when the time comes and to spread dawah (to invite to Islam). During the last 10 nights of Ramadan I was frantically getting ready for a friends Iftar. I whipped on a scarf and ran out the door. A friend approached me and asked me if I was planning on putting on the hijab. I shrugged and told her I’m still not sure. As the night went on I glanced into the bathroom mirror. When I saw myself I recognized the scarf I was wearing. It was the same one the merchant in Syria gave me. Staggered with emotions I took this as a final sign I was ready to embrace the hijab.
Malaki's surprise party for putting hijab on
After wearing the hijab for a few months now, I feel that it has done so much to empower me. The hijab conceals my outer beauty and has taught me to focus on my character. With the hijab I feel that an ideal form of beauty does not categorize me. In Islam there is no such thing as one ideal beauty. Islam chooses to focus on what is inside of the heart, what’s inside the mind and ones character. The hijab puts in perspective who I am as a woman. I do not need to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. It forces others to see me for my character and whom I am on the inside instead of how I look on the outside.
2) Tell us about your major in social work and your experiences thus far - how important is social work in the Muslim community and why do you think it's not a more popular field for Muslims?
Social work may not be a popular field for Muslims because of its income. I believe some Muslims measure success by income. If more Muslims really understood what social work was all about then they would look at it differently. Social work is a profession that focuses on helping individuals, groups, and communities to enhance or restore their social functioning to create societal conditions favorable to their goals. As Muslims living in the United States we maybe victims of injustices. A Social Worker can give you the appropriate problem solving skills to tackle any dilemma. I am currently finishing my senior year in the school of social work at Wayne State University. I hope to go forth with my Masters. My dream is to one day create a faith-based prevention program focused on homeless young adults.
3) What/Who are some positive influences you had growing up?
I was blessed with many influential people growing up. One in particular is Melanie Elturk. I knew Melanie while I was a camper at Camp Al-Hilal. However, I really got to know her while I was in high school. At the time Melanie was very active in the community. She gave us weekly Halaqa’s (a religious gathering to learn about Islam) at Unity Center. Melanie was different than the Muslim women I knew because she taught Islam in a way I found very appealing. She guided me through issues I faced as a teenager and till this day. She always saw the best in me when I did not always see the best in myself.
4) If you could tell your 17 year-old self one thing, what would it be?
I truly believe that if there was one thing I could tell myself at 17 it would be to stick to my prayers. Only after experiencing the love of God did I truly understand that without his mercy we would turn to other things for fulfillment. Those other things never fulfill a purpose for me. God is the most consistent love to be found.
Malaki in the Chevron Bombshell Haute Hijab
5) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
“Don’t be afraid of yourself.” People can often be very critical of you. You have to be a certain way. You have to react the way that everyone else is reacting. Be quiet, it’s not ok to do that. These were things I was often told growing up. Listening to this negativity hindered me from seeing my true potential. There is a quote by Albert Einstein that goes, “If you spend your life judging a fish's ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid." We are all special in our own way. Don’t be afraid of who you are meant to be. Only when realizing what you are capable of will you achieve so many great things.
6) What do you think is the biggest problem facing young Muslim women today?
I feel like we spend more time criticizing each other instead of lifting each other up. Islam is perfect but we are not. So often we get involved in Islam’s perfection that we expect each other to be perfect. Causing us to feel afraid to turn to God because we do not feel worthy enough of His love, and we do not feel worthy enough of His gifts. We need to spend more time making excuses for eachother’s sins and more time expressing compassion towards one another because that is what Islam demonstrates. Empathy is power.
7) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
God is constantly going to test you but don’t give up, it's all part of hijab. Otherwise it would not be considered Jihad (struggle against believers). Remind yourself why you put it on in the first place. This world is temporary. You have something better waiting for you. When I find myself struggling most with my hijab I reflect on what is going on around me. It can have something to do with my surroundings or something I am watching that is negatively influencing my heart. I could be sinning more often then usual; and neglecting my prayers. All in all, something is affecting my spirit. After identifying the issue I then take steps to purify my heart. Allah will release you from your burden do not be afraid to turn to Him. After all we must hurt in order to grow, fail in order to know, and lose in order to gain. Do the best you can that is all that really counts.