It was the year of 2001, Linden, Guyana, South America. Destiny’s child was the next best singing group. I know you must be already wondering, hey I’m supposed to be Muslim and my agenda should not include listening to Destiny’s Child; where at that time Beyonce was the best thing next to ‘Bootylicious’……Or so I was thought in western society. You see I had just turned eleven years old and my journey into the realms of High School had just commenced. Circumstances were such that I was venturing into a secular high school but I came from a strong milieu of Muslim family, Both parents Practicing Muslims, a house hold that prayed together, read taleem after salaah together, fasted in the month of Ramadan together, paid zakaat and I wore my full hijab with pride every day. The other students would tease me and constantly ask me questions; like how was it I could stand the heat with all of my clothing? They would make fun of my last name Hussain, constantly trying to peek under my hijab or compare me to the well re-known Sadam Hussein with sarcasm oozing through their mouths. But you see at that time I was the eldest among two younger brothers and my companions were ironically mostly boys. I rode bikes with them, played basketball with them, got into trouble and even got my butt spanked with them.
All of those experiences made me tuff at a very young age. It prepared me for that which was to come and destiny did speak when its time came. My greatest challenge as a youngster was always and remains still eleven years later, my love for the theatrical arts. I loved the idea of being on stage, acting in school plays, singing, dancing, writing poetry, playing instruments you name it and Ruqayyah was there. But in Islam especially for young Muslim women, there are many restrictions and I was thought at a very young age that it was haram to participate in such events. But being young & carefree my heart wouldn’t let me, so unknown to my parents I was the only Muslim girl in the school’s choir and drama club and I was taught how to play the flute, while I thought myself piano. Music was my favourite subject and I produced the highest grades in that area. I remember winning elocution competitions and singing lead once when the school had Thanksgiving. At times I’d feel some guilt but then I’d open my lungs and sing and get lost in the moment, or I’d write a verse and feel free. I was also into Athletics and Nationals was right around the corner, of course I signed up. Again I was the only Muslim girl on the track, clothed in heavy track suits and hijab running with the wind and girls dressed in short tights and trainee tops.
At times I felt like I didn’t fit in and that I was unattractive because all the boys went after the other girls who wore their school skirts so tight it surprised me they could breathe, not forgetting their well-kept hairstyles and latest gadgets. With the exception of the guys that knew me from before, or my Christian cousins, no one paid any attention to me. Some would say I was the invisible pretty Black Muslim girl who was always walking around with the latest Nancy Drew. It wasn’t always easy balancing it all but that I did. I remember this one time one of the girls in my class tried to pull my hijab off, I got so mad at her I wanted to cry because it was becoming very annoying having to constantly look behind me to see if there was someone trying to pull off the one thing that helped define me as a Muslimah! But I stayed strong and I moved on. The reality is once you’re Muslim and you’re living in the west, society will influence you in one way or the other, even if you do come from the best Muslim household and especially if you’re attending a Non-Muslim school. I for one knew all the latest songs that were on the billboard hot 100 and we all know what Islam teaches about that, I was young for crying out loud and there were huge sharks in the waters where I navigated, I guess that’s no excuse for what happened next but you’ll hear all about that in my next blog… Until next time Xoxox. Give live and love life xoxoX