Hijabi of the Month May 2015 - Selma Adam
Posted on May 26, 2015
This month's HOTM comes from California - read on for her inspiring journey with health, fitness and hijab and be sure to help support her efforts to continue to ride for a cure for MS.
I was born and raised in Long Beach, California. You can imagine the difficulties of being a young Muslim, Arab girl in the United States while trying to blend in and live a "normal" life. Although my mother raised me with a middle eastern backbone I always wanted to be normal. I used to see hijabi women and think to myself.. I will never be like them. To me it was a sign of weakness and submissiveness. I didn't want to be like that. I spent a lifetime of insecurities with my body image, strengths and capabilities.
1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey.
Fast forward to 2007 - my family life came to whirlwind of problems. My family of myself, my husband, my mother and 5 children was challenged. Although at the time I did not pray all prayers on time I found myself turning to Allah (S). My prayers were more meaningful as I gave it all to Him. I then found a great job, my husbands work became more stable and our life started to turn for the better. So one night after fajr prayer I had a dream. When I woke I knew what I had to do... wear a hijab. At first my husband and my mother did not believe me. I went from wearing shorts and t-shirts to a covered hijabi. Now keep in mind, in the US a Muslim is often times stereotyped as a terrorist and we are frowned upon. So putting on the hijab at this time was very hard but I did. Believe it or not - no more self esteem or image issues here! If anything I feel stronger and more confident in myself then I ever did.
I am proud of the Muslim Arab American woman that I am and honored to represent my culture and religion in a positive way. Since I started covering my life has just been one trial after another. In 2010 I was diagnosed with COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease due to my years of smoking. Well of course I had to quit smoking and quit cold turkey! Nothing except food, a lot of it - that then led to obesity and of course, type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind during this time I had become a commoner at the local hospital. So when I went into a coma from high blood sugar I woke up thinking it was my breathing issues. I woke to the look on my husband and children's faces of pure sorrow. I vowed that day to do all I could to keep myself as strong and healthy as I could and not put them through anymore pain.
2) You've made some lifestyle changes that allow you to be more active and healthy, how have you managed to stick to the changes you made?
Of course 2012 came with a bang, another trial to test us. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I went through six rounds of chemo and tried to keep it a secret until my doctor told me we had to have a full radical removal. So fast forward - I went through four surgeries, a heart attack and six months of recovery. Alhamdulilah. The next year I go to my remission check up and low and behold, I now am told I may have MS or multiple sclerosis. Ok. Alhamdulilah. Several tests and a couple of months later the diagnosis was confirmed. I have RRMS, Remitting Reoccurring Multiple Sclerosis. But I feel fine...or do I? With my new lifestyle I am always on the go - always doing something - so I put my fatigue and vision impairments and loss of balance to that. Inside I was upset. I didn't want it to show, I didn't want to cry so I would run longer, work out harder and that led to more episodes. What do I do now? Well one day at my company's monthly meeting the CEO challenged each department to have a rider ride in the Annual Bay to Bay 100 miles benefiting the National MS society. Something in me clicked... but I don't know how to ride a bike. My arm went up. This was my way to fight back. This was how I could prove to myself that I am not totally handicapped. Of course everyone looked at me in disbelief. You? You're a covered hijabi. You can't ride a bike and you have breathing ailments. Nope! I can.
So I go home and tell my poor loving husband. He looks at me like, "Are you crazy?" Please please teach me how to ride a bike. He gave in, of course :) With training wheels and his support I learned to ride a bike!!! Wow!! It was amazing! I was free! I was one with the wind. SubhanAllah, He put me through all this for a reason.
I loved riding! Yes, it was hard, yes it was challenging but with every obstacle I found a resolution. Yoga taught me how to control my breathing. Running helped with my endurance. Salah and faith in Allah kept me going with a smile on my face and a song in my voice. With each training ride the groups got bigger and bigger. People who thought their disabilities restricted them found me as their inspiration to come out and play. Women that were having hardships in their relationships or families would come to ride and get it off their chest. We all have problems in life. The trick is learning to let it go into the hands of our Creator and the rest is easy. Our team started 57 team member and grew to 132!
3) You were voted "Most Inspirational Rider for 2014" by the National MS society - tell us what this meant to you.
It was a total surprise when I was taken to the Award Ceremony after completing day one of the tour last year to be told that I was nominated and voted "Most Inspirational Rider," Me!! This little sick hijabi woman did make a difference! It was an honor. I couldn't believe I made such a difference in so many peoples lives. The feeling was humbling beyond words. Again, alhamdulilah.
4) What imprint do you want to leave on the world?
Yes I have an illness but Allah (S) gave me a loud and strong voice. I will continue to ride for those that can't, I will continue to speak and sing for those whose voices have been silenced. InshaAllah I will continue my journey as long as Allah allows me to. We all have a purpose, mine is to glorify my Creator.
5) What is one motto you live by?
Life is a Journey. Ride though it, just Go!
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
For all you young girls struggling with your hijab, don't let your hijab be your barrier let it be your strength. Grow and prove yourself. Go out there and stand strong. There is nothing wrong with being different but it is wrong to not be proud of who you are. You are beautiful. Allah (S) created us with our own individual beauty and voice. Let it shine!!
Is there someone you'd like to nominate for Hijabi of the Month? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!