Posted on Dec 05, 2012
This month's HOTM comes from Troy, Michigan (my hometown, woot woot!) Would you like to be a HOTM? Is there someone you'd like to nominate? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Dalia Ibrahim and I'm fifteen years old. I’m half Moroccan, half Egyptian and was born in Saudi Arabia. I have four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, who are all older than me. I’ve lived in the states ever since I was born. I’ve lived in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and currently Michigan! I’m a sophomore at Athens High School and am currently class president in my school’s student council! In my free time I love to read, watch movies, play lacrosse, and hang out with friends and family. I love telling jokes and bringing people together! If it weren’t for my desire to be a lawyer, I would totally become a comedian. My favorite food is anything Moroccan, but more specifically Couscous, (a Moroccan dish that is made of straight up heaven.)
1) When did you start wearing hijab, and what factors went into your decision to wear it?
I started wearing my hijab when I was 11 and in the seventh grade. There were so many things that led me to decide to wear hijab. Growing up I was super close with my Dad. When I was in sixth grade, he passed away while we were on vacation in Egypt. I knew that he would want me to put on hijab, but it felt like too much to take in at the time, going into middle school and all. So I started with the thought of my Dad in mind. As the days went on, I realized that wearing hijab would allow me to become a better Muslim step by step. I knew that it would make him proud and keep me secure. So the Summer of seventh grade I decided it was time to put it on. What better time to start wearing hijab than in Ramadan, where all your good deeds are multiplied by 75. So it was set. I was going to start wearing my hijab beginning the first day of Ramadan. I was super worried what people would think, but my two older sisters, who were already hijabis, helped me through it!
2) High school can be a challenging place. Tell us about your experiences wearing hijab in high school.
Wearing a hijab in high school is definitely a different experience for everyone. For me, wearing a hijab in high school is not as hard as I expected. Alhamdulillah, the city I live in, Troy, is very open to new ideas and different people. What has helped is that I’ve known the people I’ve gone to school with for as long as I can remember. Since they have been with me since elementary school, they’ve learned to know me for me, not for how I look or what I wear.
But of course, the questions never end. At times it gets annoying and at times quite repetitive. But at the end of the day, I really don’t mind, and I find it refreshing to tell people why I wear it. It serves as a constant reminder to myself of who I really am and why I chose to wear it. Now that’s not to say that I don’t get the annoying jokes every now and then, but that’s part of the challenge that comes with wearing hijab in the society we live in today. I find the best way to deal with these types of people is to either ignore them or set them straight with wise words and explanations. I know what I believe in and a rude comment from someone is not going to stop me or change my mind.
3) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten has got to be from my brother. He once told me a Will Smith quote that I find useful in a lot of situations. “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”
4) What advice would you give to youth struggling with hijab?
My advice would be, take it slow. Wear it when you’re ready. If and when you get the slightest idea to wear hijab, go with it. Don’t procrastinate and tell yourself you’ll do it later. It’s a life changing experience and something everyone deserves to go through. Never let society and the way people think of you stop you from wearing hijab. It may seem hard and maybe even impossible, but all it takes is the will, and where there’s a will, there’s a way. Pray and make duaa and inshallah Allah (S) will help you through it. If all the motivation in the world isn’t enough for you, think about the reward in the afterlife. Wearing the hijab isn’t something small, but then again, neither is Jennah.