By Farah Jukaku

I stare at the stars at night, They've been there for a million years, Then I listen to the quiet, That has been heard by a million ears.

“Muslims shouldn’t be in America."
Why are you still living in America?
Why don’t you leave America?

These are some of the statements and questions you would think Americans would say to us Muslims who live here. On the contrary, members of my own community or family living outside of America have made these statements. I can’t deny that some Americans show some form of fear or prejudice towards us here, but for the most part my stay here has been pleasant.

The judgments I do face however, comes from other Muslims around the world. Either we shouldn’t be living here or that we must be earning a lot of money and living fancy lives or that we do not follow our religion properly. The truth is that like other Muslims around the world, our life comes with its own share of struggles and lessons and like other Muslims; we also struggle to be closer to Allah. Rather than being judged for being here, I would like to bring new light to this situation.

When I first moved here, I hated being in America. I was missing my family, halal food, and of course the beautiful Muslim environment I came from. It was easy to practice Islam back home in Dubai. I could wear the Hijab freely, pray wherever I felt like and not be judged for being Muslim; things that I would usually take for granted. These are some of the lessons I learnt from Living in America:

Allah has put us Muslims here whether we like it or not. It was merely our destiny.

Allah  says in the Quran:

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)

Allah put us here for a purpose, the sole purpose of Da’wah. Most people fail to realize that even the smallest act like a wearing a hijab and walking out of your house is Da’wah. People are intrigued by Islam more often than they are scared of it. So whilst our own people judge us for not wearing the traditional black Abaya and Niqab, some non-Muslims are in awe of our hijabs and modest attire. My friend and I have been stopped multiple times by non-Muslims and told how beautiful our hijabs are and that they loved our modesty which would then lead to other questions about Islam. This in itself is a great blessing from Allah.

Allah says in the Quran:

"And who is better in speech than he who invites to Allah and does righteous deeds, and says: 'I am one of the Muslims." (41:33)

Islam does not come easy to us; we have to struggle to practice our deen. Muslims here in America, no matter how un-Islamic they seem, have to struggle to get closer to Allah on an everyday basis. Whether to find halal food, or to find good Islamic schooling or Quran lessons for our kids, or to simply adorn the hijab, every day is a struggle, a struggle that I am proud of. Dressing in Islamic attire is especially hard because, there is always a fear of beings stared at, made fun of, or even ridiculed. Living in Dubai made me take deen for granted, but moving here taught me the true value of Islam and I can say that I am much more closer to Allah than I was before.

Allah  says in the Quran:

Did you think that you would enter Paradise even though Allah has not yet seen who among you strove hard in His way and remained steadfast? (3:142)

In conclusion, no matter where we are placed by Allah, we should not forget our sole purpose of life. The country we live in, the family and status we are born into, the wealth we have are only tests/blessings Allah SWT puts us through. These temporary illusions of this Duniya should not distract us from our purpose. Whether we live in America, India or the Middle East, we should always remember that Allah has placed us on this earth to strive for the cause of Allah. Indeed the purpose of life is to worship Allah SWT in the best and most beautiful way we can no matter where we stay.

Allah says in the Quran:

And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me (51:56-58)

About the Author

Farah Jukaku is a journalist living in Irvine, California. She has worked at Gulf News in one of her previous stints.