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Ramsha—An 8th-Grade Muslim Girl’s Perspective

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kinerific/4593376705

Photo: Justin Kiner

My Perspective Counts: Part I

In this series of My Perspective Counts, we will be exploring the unique and inspiring lives of Muslims from all backgrounds, faith practices, age ranges and all other variables. Through interviews, we will learn about their struggles, perspectives, passions and wisdom. The following questions were specifically tailored to this young Muslim woman.

Tell us a little about yourself: Your name, grade, personality/interests, a little background on where you grew up and your family. 

My name is Ramsha. Even though I’ll be 13 in about 3 months, I’m a rising 8th grader. I’m a “girly girl” who loves nail polish and clothes. My little sister is also my little model! I also have a younger brother and a loving mom and dad. I was born in the United States but I grew up in Vancouver, Canada. I lived there for about 12 years.

As a young person, you seem interested in Islam. How did that start and what role does Islam play in your life?

Islam is my way of life. But it wasn’t always like that. About 3 years ago my parents went for Hajj. When they came back, I saw that they were more practicing. We started to put more deen (religion) into our lives. I started to wear the hijab (head covering) not too long ago. I got my first job delivering newspapers last year. My mom didn’t tell me to wear the hijab or not. She just said, “It’s your choice, but I’m telling you, it’s better to start from day one rather than from the middle.” I decided to start wearing it from that day. It was actually the day before my 12th birthday. As I started wearing the hijab, I felt myself getting stronger and stronger in my faith. It was just like lip balm. It contains an ingredient that makes it addictive, so the more you put on, the more you need. All it took was for my mom to give my wagon a little push.

What are some of the challenges you face as a young Muslim woman?

People at school come up to me with many questions. Some I didn’t know how to answer at that time. For example, this girl once asked me, “If you have Jesus, Moses, and Noah in your religion, why aren’t you Christian?” Of course I don’t answer every question I get, because we are all still learning. Others can have really long answers. I once posted a picture saying, “Smile! It’s sunnah!” The following day, everyone was asking me what sunnah was. Others are just plain silly. Along with the usual “Do you have hair/ears?”, the weirdest question I have ever gotten was, “Do you have Voldemort hidden in the back of your head?”

Another thing I face is stereotypes. I have had people at school dare each other to tell me racist jokes and ask me racist questions like, “Your mom is so stupid she thought the twin towers were runways,” and, “Have your parents ever belonged to a terrorist organization?” Of course they did get caught, but I felt sad that this is what they think of Muslims.

Please share a story of a time where you explained Islam to someone else. What did they ask, what did you say and how was your experience?

I was once going out on the field after lunch when a girl came and asked me, “What are you?” I decided that because she was my age I could joke around with her. So I said, “Oh, I’m a human,” and our conversation continued:

Her: Yeah, I can see that but like what part of India are you from?

Me: It may seem surprising but I am not Indian. I am from Canada. I am just Muslim. It’s a religion, not an ethnicity.

Her: So, why do you wear that on your head?

Me: I’m obeying God’s orders. And it’s not just in Islam. For example, even in your church, you never see a picture of Virgin Mary with her head uncovered.

Her: I understand. But aren’t you hot?

Me: Honestly, yes. I can get a bit sweaty, but the human body’s an amazing machine. It can get used to anything. And besides, it’s just like a hat protecting me from the sun.

Her: I wish I was you. It gets really hot here in South Carolina.

I felt really excited and gave a smile.

Her: Hey, do you know that guy Osama bin Laden?

Me: I know what you’re going to ask. And no, I don’t look up to him. Even though he was Muslim, he was also misguided, got lost, went astray.

Her: Oh ok. Hey, my sister told me you guys pray 500 times a day. Is that true?

Me: [giggles] No, it’s only five. One at the break of dawn, one after midday, one when the sun is at eye level, one when it sets, and one when the sky is completely dark.

Her: Oh, so do you pray at school?

Me: Before the time change, I used to go behind the curtain to pray at lunch. When the clocks moved forward, I could pray my noon prayer as soon as I got home, if my bus was on time.

Just then, a boy tapped me on the shoulder.

Me: Could you please not touch me?

Her: Oh, you don’t like being touched?

I quoted directly from the seminar: In Islam, there is no touchy-feely, no try-it-before-you-buy-it, and such. I am the one in control of who touches me.

Her: So are you allowed to have, like, a boyfriend?

Me: No, but-

Her: Then how do you get married?

Me: If I like someone, then I tell my parents. It’s their job to invite his family over and find out from who’s in their family history, all the way to what do they post on instagram. So basically the parents do the dating for you.

Her: I thought that the parents choose for you?

Me: That is an option though.

[bell rings]

That girl and I ended up becoming good friends.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to tell every Muslim girl: remind yourself that it’s all temporary. Don’t get attached. Look in the mirror and say, “I am a Muslimah; I am strong, and I am beautiful.”

I would also like to share a few good books (other than the Qur’an, of course) that I have come across. There is “Reclaim Your Heart” by Yasmin Mogahed and “The Prophet’s Methods of Correcting People’s Mistakes” by Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid. I also follow @islamicquotes on Instagram and would like to give them a shoutout.

—Ramsha

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on www.virtualmosque.com.

24 Comments

  • Living amidst Non-Muslims is challenging but an opportunity to represent Islam.
    So I ask Allah to make us steadfast and strengthen our faith, ameen

    • Mashallah what a articulate smart young woman. May allah increase you in imaan,and grant you the best in this life and the hereafter …I loved the fact that in the face of such questions asked by your peers you were able to answer well..I know I would have just got annoyed!

  • “the weirdest question I have ever gotten was, “Do you have Voldemort hidden in the back of your head?””
    Lol. I get the reference.

  • Masha Allah we are so proud of you representing Islam well at your school. You were able to answer the questions in a way that sometimes not even adults could. May Allah bless you and your parents for educating you well. You are a good example for many of our Muslim girls to follow. Keep up the good work. God bless and protect you.

  • MaShaAllah, I loved your example of the lip balm, Alhumdolillah so proud of you for standing up strongly, confidently and patiently for Islam. Go Ramsha Go! May Allah protect you. Aameen!

  • mashallah, Ramsha you are a very strong girl, may allah help you face any difficulty that comes your way, and he helps you teach the kids of south Carolina the true meaning of Islam.

  • Wow Ramsha, Masha Allah you have such a strong personality. I look up to you as a Muslimah and you have great examples to help young women. I’d like to say that you have learned a lot from your parents which is outstanding MashaAllah. Keep your head up and surely you will learn more about our religion to answer the harder questions that you receive!

  • MashaAllah ,I’m so proud of you Ramsha. You are fulfilling the dreams of your parents. May Allah help you and guide you to every success of your life towards Deen. Aameen

  • Amazing! Alhamd-ul-illah … we have some bright ones in our way of faith. May Allah protect your intellect and prize you with more.

  • Wow! I must say, at such a young age, Ramsha demonstrates quite a solid understanding of religious believes and is able to lead an exploratory life in the midst of everyday profiling. I especially enjoyed the real-life candid examples she shared and how she has beautifully handled variety of situations. Wish you all the very best!

  • “The weirdest question I have ever gotten was, “Do you have Voldemort hidden in the back of your head?” ”
    That was indeed weird!

    MashaAllah, you are an intelligent young woman. I would love to have a daughter, or a friend like you. Stay confident the way you are! Those people who ridicule, it just exposes what type of people they are. What one says, describes them.

    May Allah grant you success in school, and may you become what you want to become when you’re older. Love you for the sake of Allah. <3

  • Wow! I wish i knew these answers about my religion and could respond like you when I was your age. I was so annoyed with small questions and gave up on my Hijab. Your examples make me wish I was like you and want to learn more to be proud Muslimah like you. Help me? May you be rewarded and become what you want to become. Love you for the sake of Allah.

  • What a grown-up girl, intelligent way beyond your years. The more contact I have with Muslims, the more educated I become, and understanding grows for all of us.
    Your parents are doing a superb job of bringing you up.

  • Great Job Ramsha. A GREAT ambassador for a great Religion. I love how you answered the girl with great confidence and patience. Think of it all the time, Allah has sent you there for a purpose and for every challenge you meet, your thawab is rewarded by Allah (swt) the most generous and the most merciful.

    May Allah guide you through his righteous path and deepen your faith.

  • I was busy with some paper works and forgot about dhuha prayer. Somehow I just clicked on this article and I went straight to perform my dhuha after reading about this amazing girl.

    May Allah swt guide you and bless your family. Amazing, Subhanallah

  • Hello Ramsha ! I am sooo impressed by the way you handled yourself , the clarity of your answers to the other girl’s questions was remarkable ! I was raised in a small town (not as a visible minority or religious minority) and I remember feeling bad for the kids of ethnic minority as they were constantly being taunted and teased just because of their various cultural beliefs . You are well beyond your years by the way you are handling this pressure . Like I said , I am very impressed !!….and by the way Eid Mubarak to you and your family !!Keep up the good work !

  • Ramsha, It was awesome to see this on the web! I see you almost everyday and hear you get asked some of those ridiculous questions and see how you handle those awful “jokes”. Its so awesome the way you love and accept your religion and plan to stick to it even though you are constantly surrounded by ignorant people who dont seem quite understand. Im not muslim but this absolutely inspired me and made my day. Thank you so much!

  • Ramsha,your parents must be very proud of you, marshallah. May Allah increase your wisdom and knowledge in school work and Islam. May you be a strong successful woman in this life and after. May Allah bless your mother specially. I hope you can be my daughter’s friend as she is the same age of you. Alhumduallah.

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