Saturday, November 12, 2011

Single Invisible Muslimah, Part I

As salaam alaikum,

I don't know how I missed this article at's totally what I needed to read, always.

"[...] as a community, we are so focused on grooming our women to be wives and mothers that we lose sight of the fact that this is not even our number one role.

"Servitude to Allah (swt) is our number one role. We need to use what He has given us, the means that we have at the moment we have, to worship Him in the best of ways."

Preach it, Sister! See the full article here: Wifehood and Motherhood not only ways to paradise.

This paragraph was also encouraging:

"God, in His Wisdom, has created each one of us differently and in different circumstances. Some recognize this, love any stage they are in, and develop their abilities to the fullest. Let us, too, use the time and abilities God has given us to maximize our worship to Him and work for the betterment of society and humanity as a whole. If wifehood or motherhood comes in the process, then at least we were using all of our ability to worship Him before it came and can continue to use the training and stamina we gained before marriage to worship Him with excellence once it comes along."

Ameen, sis!

The article starts out with a Muslimah aimlessly making her way through college, really just buying time until she finds a husband and marries so she can have children. In my heart of hearts, I felt like this was me.

No one else sees me this way, and when I talk this way, it seems incongruous with who I actually am.

I am the 12-year-old girl who helped her mother copy articles for her Auntie Florence's dissertation in Nigeria and aspired someday to attend graduate school. I am the 12-year-old girl that, in researching careers, was choosing not only between medicine and architecture, but considered specifically the specialty of OB/GYN. I am the 13-year-old girl who took two math classes in middle school so she could be in the advanced science-math track. I am the 15-year-old girl who participated in a conference and initiative to try to address the achievement gap with black American students. I am the 18-year-old girl who graduated in the top 5% of her high school class after taking 7 AP tests, all 4s and 5s, and had gotten into all of the colleges she applied to with a full tuition scholarship to the one she would eventually attend. I am the 17-year-old girl who definitively embraced Islam and decided to become more practicing once in college.

I am the 18-year-old girl who entered college toying with the idea of becoming an MD/PhD, focusing on genetics. I am the 18-year-old girl who fasted Ramadan for the first time. I am the 19-year-old girl that started to develop her social consciousness and the idea of entering medicine as a service career, serving Allah (swt) through serving fellow human being. I am the 19-year-old girl who found a dream medical school and began to develop myself in college to be able to gain admission there. I am the 19-year-old girl who decided to double major in Cellular and Molecular biology and Spanish. I am the 20-year-old girl who juggled her double major, working in the lab, volunteering in the Children's hospital, tutoring students in Spanish and helping Latino children and adults increase their literacy all the while delving into Islam head-first. I am the 21-year-old girl who began wearing the khimar, traveled abroad for the first time and applied to medical school all in the same year. I am the 22-year-old girl who graduated with a 3.9 and accepted admission at Harvard Medical School with aspirations to attain her MPH.

I am the 22-year-old woman who made the very hard decision to shed the khimar and find alternative ways to assume her Muslim identity.

I am the 22-year-old girl who thrived upon entering medical school. I am the 22-year-old girl who started writing her first novel, A Rose Much Desired, during anatomy class, where she sawed off a human leg. I am the 22-year-old girl who aspired to publish at least one work while in medical school. I am the 23-year-old girl who wrote her first story to be published, insha'Allah, which was renamed "The Hybrid Dance." I am the 23-year-old girl who co-directed a cultural show with her classmates that celebrated the African Diaspora and was musical director for her second year show, realizing the dreams of performance that she never allowed herself while studying through college. I am the 24-year-old woman who studied for and conquered USMLE Step 1. I am the 24-year-old woman who decided not to miss Ramadan because of tough coursework and fasted successfully through her OB/GYN rotation and still got her desired grade. I am the 25-year-old woman who survived third year of medical school. I am the 25-year-old woman who fell in love with family medicine. I am the 25-year-old woman who realized her aspiration and matriculated into the school of public health, studying family and community health and maternal child health. I am the 26-year-old woman who was an intern for a project to find solutions for homelessness of transition-age youth in Massachusetts. I am the 26-year-old woman who is applying to residency and interviewing across the country as I type this.

I am the 26-year-old woman who has made mistakes in the course of life but always has her home in Islam, alhamdulillah.

None of this is the mark of a woman who has been ambling through life, aimlessly waiting for her husband to come along. No. I don't know why I though that.

I don't generally like to lay out my life in this way, but for my own purposes, I had to. I had to slap myself in the face and see, in fact, that I've made some very purposeful decisions in my life, academic and leisure and otherwise, to achieve my goals.

As the quote above says so nicely, we are created differently and we are born into different circumstances. Some of us recognize this and love the stage we are in and develop our capabilities to the fullest. I think I recognize that we are born into different circumstances and I have developed my capabilities. What has not happened is that I have not loved the stage I am in.

I was constantly trying to be something else, be somewhere else. Thus the movement of I am more myself now than I have ever been.



  1. Wow, this is really amazing and incredible. You are so beautiful and successful I wish you could be a famous motivational speaker or writer as a role model for other girls in your situation. I feel that your impact would be stronger than that of some of our current American-Muslim personalities.

  2. Salaam, sis! Long time, nice to see you. :)

    I've never thought of being a motivational speaker, but writing, I can do... Thank you for your kind words! If this is motivational, then the key to motivating is to have been in similar situations to ones audience and find the way that works to talk yourself into better shape, because this whole series of entries are all ideas that really motivated me to feel a lot better about my life and lot, and I feel happier and healthier, for sure!

  3. Please consider getting some of your thoughts published as a memoir. You have a unique perspective and your story is compelling, your writing is amazing. This summer I attended a workshop in SanFran (writing) one of the girls there also had a very interesting story and had been keeping a journal through her transformation via boxing. I don't know if you have heard of this book...
    The author is an amazing speaker I heard her talk at my friend's convocation and her words impacted me, I think you can have an impact too