Hijabi of the Month July - Sabina Mohammed
Posted on Jul 12, 2017
Sabina Mohammed was nominated as Hijabi of the Month by her sister, Sana, who wrote us a very heart warming email about her, breaking down her achievements by category and telling us all the reasons she loves her. In essence, Sabina is driven by a desire to have a positive impact on her surroundings. She is a graduate of the McCombs School of Business’ Integrated Master’s in Accounting program and currently works as a Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young where she advises her diverse clients in navigating various financial accounting matters.
Her passion for helping others stems beyond her professional career. Sabina has been active in her community in various capacities. Most recently, Sabina is a co-founder and board member of Muslim Youth Serving Society (MYSS), a community service-based youth group designed for high school-aged Muslim girls to find a space to give back while growing into future leaders. She has also been involved in a variety of efforts, including American Muslims Care, Speak Up & the An-Nisa Hope Center, and Emerge USA.
With the rest of her free time, Sabina enjoys exploring an array of her ever-evolving hobbies from hiking and running to mehndi/henna to spoken word and poetry. We caught up with Sabina to learn more about her journey with hijab, her life, faith and what inspires her.
1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey, how you came to wear it, what factors were involved, etc.
I grew up in a standard Indian American Muslim household. My sister and I dressed modestly, but we didn't cover our hair. While I thought about covering my hair, it always seemed like something I would do way down the line. In college, I grew and developed as a Muslim and started seriously considering wearing hijab. I found myself altering my wardrobe and wearing long sleeves and longer tops. But I also always found lots of “reasons” not to start covering my hair yet. Many say if you’re considering starting to wear hijab, just do it; impulse decisions work really well for some people. But I don’t like to give that advice because, for me, it was important to not only have the motivation but also to mentally prepare myself for the various challenges I may face. I overthought every single aspect of it, probably far more than I should have. But that just meant that almost nothing would surprise me.
However, after a certain point, you need to stop thinking and just take a leap of faith. I consistently reflected on how short life is and thought 'YOLO' - you only live (in this life) once :) We should make the most of our short time here because we never know when our lives will end. So I finally started covering my hair when I was 23 years old. And I was happy. Nervous, but so happy.
My parents were my primary concern. During the first few years especially, my parents would tell me that it will be tougher for me to get married if I continued covering my hair. They also feared that I would be the victim of a hate crime. Many of my family's non-Muslim friends questioned my parents about why I started wearing hijab all of a sudden, which sometimes put my parents in an awkward place. Over time, my parents have gotten used to it and these were just small hurdles in the path. Alhumdulillah, the decision has always been my own, and I’m grateful that I can practice my religion as I see fit.
Among the many social and spiritual reasons that led me to alter the way I dress, the primary one is so beautifully summarized by the following: “My love for God is greater than my desire for people to think I’m beautiful. I love what God loves, and God loves modesty.” - Dunia Shuaib
2) Tell us more about your work with Muslim Youth Serving Society (MYSS). What inspired you to co-found this organization? What are some of the successes and challenges of encouraging young women to take on leadership roles?
MYSS is a service-based youth group for high school aged Muslim girls. Every month, we volunteer with a different organization within the greater Houston community. We try to design our activities so that the volunteers can have a direct impact and contact with the population we are serving. When I was in high school, most of the “volunteering” I did was low impact. I wanted to help create a way for young women in high school to find and develop a passion for a cause that hits home with them. I love seeing the MYSS members finding value in and enjoying the act of giving back. However, one of our current challenges is not only building this desire in them but also keeping the momentum going from one activity to another. We are currently exploring ways to foster consistent leadership development amongst our members.
3) Between balancing your career as a CPA, community organizing, leadership, volunteering, family and more, you seem to have more than a full plate! How do you stay motivated in the midst of the busy-ness?
I’ll be honest - it’s not always easy. But one thing that keeps me going is this hadith by the Prophet Muhammad (S):
"Take advantage of 5 things before the other 5 things: your youth before you get old, your health before you become ill, your riches before you become poor, you leisure time before you become busy, and finally your life before you die."
We often learn the hard way to value the ”ordinary” blessings in our lives. God has blessed me with so much. Many don't have the luxury of free time or health, for example. It's only fair that I use what's been given to me to the best of my ability, because soon enough, I may not be able to anymore.
4) What is your favorite hadith of the Prophet (S) and why?
I have quite a few, but one of my favorites is: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
It reminds me that Allah (S) is aware of every bit of pain we experience. There’s no way anyone else could be aware to the extent that Allah (S) is - He knows the pain we don’t express, the pain we don’t acknowledge and the pain we suppress. There's absolutely no other being or entity that knows how much we struggle besides God. It gives me hope knowing that Allah will always deliver justice in His divine way.
5) If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Block out the noise. There will always be reasons not to do things. People will always criticize you no matter what you do. Everyone will have an opinion. Seek advice far and wide, but learn how to filter out the wisdom from the noise. Don't internalize the negativity. Stop holding yourself back because of everyone else. Believe in your abilities and allow yourself to take leaps of faith. You deserve it.
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
Zoom out. It's easy to get bogged down by the various challenges and distractions we face. But sometimes, it helps to take a step back and realize that everything in this life is temporary - the happiness as well as the struggles. Just as quickly as despair overcomes our hearts, elation does too. In the grand scheme of things, this life is very short. And when we all pass, the only thing we will take with us to Allah (S) is our deeds. Oftentimes, I tend to magnify perceived roadblocks, so I try to remind myself to 1) put things into perspective and 2) turn to Allah (S) for help. He would never ask us to do things that are beyond our capacities. So ask Him for strength and hidayah (guidance). Believe in yourself like He believes in you. <3