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March 6, 2004

by Saima Siddiqui

Freshman year: a bright and energetic 18-yr old Muslim girl wanted to start a new beginning at college. She was a T-shirt and jeans type of girl; however, she never missed any of her daily prayers that she had started a few years back. There was a spark within her heart that she couldn't describe. She decided to go to the activities fair and join all of the organizations that reflected her identity. She came across the ISRU table. Two brothers in seemingly modest and muslim attire were sitting at the table. Across the table were leaflets and pamphlets on various topics. "Islam and Hijaab, Malcolm X" and other thought-provoking topics lined the table. Thirsty for knowledge, she picked up some. Since she had come to college that weekend, she wanted to make sure about the qibla direction in her dorm; she want to know if anyone had any information on the specific degrees on the little compass that was on her prayer mat. She asked the brothers and the first question they asked was "Are you Muslim ?". She nodded yes and she felt them look at her attire. They went on explaining that it was such and such off from the direction of Route 18. They also pointed at and explained that a group of sisters were going for dhur prayers at that time. She looked in their direction and was dismayed. They asked if she was a freshman; she replied yes. They gave her a freshman packet and without really answering her question.

She thought to herself, if only they knew what was in her heart. And Allah knows best.

She went to the ISRU meetings. Met a few girls; she got the feeling that most looked down at her for being a non-hijaabi. She went to gain knowledge. She loved the speakers. She came in 10 minutes late for the meetings and left exactly when they ended. Left no room to be uncomfortable around others. She felt she wasn't religious enough. There were many cliques.

She took hijaab that following Ramadan against the wishes of her family.

Two years later: she was a long-skirts and hijaab type of girl. She had stopped going to ISRU about a year back.

That following year, after a spiritual change within her heart only by the way of Allah the Almighty, she went for daily prayers at Paul Robeson. It was the holy month of Ramadan. She then started to go back to the ISRU meetings. The group had changed since then and the atmosphere was more inviting. Or maybe it was just her. A sister said salaam, and so on another. Others approached her after meetings saying they'd seen her before. It was a good feeling. She saw a non-hijaabi sister sitting alone, and decided to go up to her and talk to her. She saw in her herself.

And that was the beginning.

This is the story of two Muslim girls.

of and relating to...
Nadia said

Wow! Mashallah. I love the column title, quite unique. Welcome on the board :)

on March 6, 2004 11:03 PM
Rami said

Asalaam Aleium Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

I am also glad that you decided to come aboard. Welcome to Hidaya Sister.

on March 7, 2004 4:55 AM
Faisal Akhtar said

I was confused in thne beginning, I thought you were seeker. Welcome to Hidaya though. One question, what is the significance of the title of your column? NJ TPK $1.35?


Faisal Akhtar

on March 7, 2004 3:03 PM
Saima said

Insha'Allah, you'll start to see the significance of the column title in next week's edition :)

on March 7, 2004 4:53 PM
Yu Ki said


well, yeah what u wrote is a reality in our Ummah.so many non-hijabis( or even maybe non-bearded brothers, no?)sometimes feel "unwelcomed" in some ways.I think we shouldnt express our"unwelcoming" attitude towards them.they are our sisters in Islam and somehow need( and eager) to learn more, who knows we can help them to?

on March 8, 2004 8:27 AM
Asma said

Salaam - Maasha'Allah, we share so much in common!!!

Been through 'that' life,
been through those 'looks',
been through the 'drastic' change,
been through the "ISRU" conspiracy
and now part of the Islamic Society of Rutgers University!
Get it? its a hard one :-)

Take care and keep up the good words ...

on March 9, 2004 4:45 PM
Amani said

Salaam Saima,
I remember hearing you tell me this story and talking about this issue many a-time. Although I never felt the "non-hijabi shun" at RU (because I went into RU with hijab), I certainly felt it before putting on the hijab. If only people realized that people can change and that maybe that non-hijabi or non-beardy will be better than them tomorrow. Alas...

And I'm guessing I know he significance of the Turnpike title, but I'll let you explain it. ;)

on March 9, 2004 11:08 PM
-BintAbbas- said

As someone very dear to me says, "the wheel is still in spin".
Those that are on top today may be on the bottom tommorrow, tasting the shadow of those that were beneath them before.

“Ya Muqallib al-Quloob, thabbit quloobanaa ‘alaa deenik"
"O Controller of the hearts, make our hearts steadfast upon Your religion"

on March 17, 2004 11:59 PM
Saima said

very true... and sometimes it feels nice to feel the cool shadow :) it makes you energized again :)

on March 18, 2004 12:04 AM
Ibtisam said

I feel the same way. It is so true. Although, all my life I have not looked down on non-hijabis or non-religious girls or hijabi girls that spoke with men. I use to be like, why are the way they are( meaning speaking to guys). But never like I was better than them.And if I saw a guy or girl( muslim and practicing sometimes) together talking or sitting at a table "studying", I would not say anything to anyone and I would not have suspicions agaisnt them. but despite being this way, it is really Allaah who makes a person righteous or not. I wore hijab since elementary school, so I did not feel the hijab clash or anything but even in our school we had cliches between mutahajjibaat sisters, how fun! So, I did feel left out at times.

Despite that na udhu billaah, I saw a decline in my spirituality in my committment to the deen over the past couple of years. I feel as a 16 year old I was much closer to Islaam than as a 20 year old. And each year was more diffificult. So only Allaah can guide.

on June 7, 2004 3:34 AM
Anonymous said

When you feel the love for Allah in your heart, don't let anyome else's weak deen question yourself. Mash'Allah you are very strong by going against your family. I believe that it is better to have the love for Allah in your heart and not wear hijab as opposed to wearing hijab only for peer pressure. I wore hijab at a young age of 13 and only becuase of my family. As I became older, I started to resent it. I didn't tell anybody but I really researched Islam and found a new respect for the religion. Now I love my Hijab, and can't live without it.

on November 25, 2004 2:03 PM
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