Last fall, I had the wonderful chance to speak at MAS Chicago while on my
. My talk was on the subject of defining and redefining strong identities for ourselves as American Muslims, and since that's a pretty relevant topic right now in light of our current social and political climate, I wanted to reshare some of the things I spoke about there.
Whether we are children of immigrants or our families have been here for generations, we know that it is not always easy to be a Muslim in the United States. And it never has been. Our parents and predecessors poured so much of themselves into establishing nourished communities - masajid, schools, and community organizations like MAS - to build a place for us to be proud of our Muslim identity. They also did all of this simply while trying to survive in a new place with every barrier against them whether that was leaving their family and friends behind back home, or having to overcome the challenges of a new language and culture.
A lot of our predecessors also tended to stick to the more "traditionally Muslim" fields - medicine, engineering, business and the like. There are a lot of reasons for this, spanning from family and cultural influences, to personal preferences, to the fact that many Muslims simply had to work much harder than others to "prove" themselves and survive in American society.
Thanks to all of their hard work and sacrifice, we have the freedom now to really create new "traditionally Muslim" fields, including things like journalism, art, politics, teaching, or hey, maybe even fashion. ;)While we move forward as American Muslims, it's essential that we keep these things in mind - that we can and should be present in every industry, firmly grounded in our faith, and that our parents worked so hard to make it possible. We can and should go bravely into the world, fully owning ourselves and our own unique gifts, and never allowing outside influences to dictate to us what American Muslims are "supposed" to look like. We have the power to reclaim our faith and define our identities.
It was a wonderful event full of so many inspiring conversations, and I even ran into some #HHSpottedClub girls while I was there! Below is me with Dalia Hassaballa who is wearing the Day at the Derby Scarf - I love how she worked it!
Thanks again so much to MAS Chicago for having me! Check out some more pics from the event here:
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