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I was born into Islam with Muslim parents in a Muslim country. I came to the United States when I was two years old with my mom and dad's hopes and dreams of a better future. I attended Alexandria City Public Schools, had the most amazing teachers on the planet- and attended George Washington University. Islam, I was taught was a belief in a merciful Allah swt who has created the univerise and who will at the end of time judge all people for their actions on Earth. While growing up, I learned to pray salat,read the Holy Quran in Arabic, and recite prayers, by example and attending the local mosque. Each year of Ramadan brings a special magic in the air to cleanse myself of all my impurities physically and spiritually and Eid is a most special occasion where I see Muslim brothers and sisters of all colors, ethnicities, nationalities come together under one prayer and embrace each other with hugs and smiles- united under one faith.
Although I was brought up a Muslim, and taught all of the physcial and spiritual rituals- I came to respect and be proud of my religion even more when I explored college and stumbled into the lectures of Professor Seyyed Hossien Nasr, who taught me the rich history of our civilization and all of the contributions that Muslims have made. I became aware of my identity as a Muslim American to teach my non- Muslim friends by example of what Islam teaches me; patience, tolerance, generosity and to become a better person and to respect and protect this land given as a blessing from Allah swt. Islam teaches me, that as a Muslim I am obliged to be responsible to take care of myself and strive to be the best person that I can possibly be at the same time helping my family, friends, and even a stranger if need be in becoming a better individual and as an ummah united and taking care of all of Allah swt's blessings.
The beauty of Islam is that in Islam there is no class, caste, or nationality, race or ethnicity- all people regardless of rich or poor are seen as one equal in the eyes of Allah swt. Islam has taught for centuries what is recently being taught in regards to taking care of your health, body, family and enviroment.
As a Muslim and an American I hold the same values of treating each equally, while having the freedom given by Allah swt to practice my faith while my neighbor worships their faith.As a Muslim woman I have the freedom to cover my head with a hijab and be respected as an individual.
As for all of the Muslim world- no matter the differences in tongues, cultures, or ethnicites we are united under the one declaration "la ilaha illa allah" ( There is no God but one God )
I am grateful, proud and yet humbled to be a Muslim American who can practice my faith freely,express my mind openly- and intend to make the world a better place insha'Allah.