One Voice: Sabiha Shariff

One Voice: Sabiha Shariff

"I have lived in this country for 27 years now and have discovered the beauty of my faith here."

Sabiha Shariff
Murphy, TX

I thank God everyday for being born Muslim. My faith is something that I guard zealously and cherish. To me being a Muslim means leading a life filled with obedience and service to my parents, love and caring towards my family, friends, and neighbors. It encourages me to appreciate all the good and pure things that Allah has blessed me with, and thank Him every waking moment for His infinite mercies. It makes it easy for me to avoid harmful situations, since Islam forbids drinking, gambling, dressing immodestly, living a life of waste and extravagance, and indulging in gossip.

The Holy Quran warns me that that I will be accountable for my every action, for every willfully broken promise, for any kind of vain talk, thus inculcating humility and honesty. I have lived in this country for 27 years now and have discovered the beauty of my faith here. Being an observant Muslim, I dress out of choice in the traditional abaya (the long outer garment) and wear a hijab (the head scarf). Whenever I go out in public, I receive the utmost respect and courtesy. Even in the sweltering heat of Dallas, no one thinks I am crazy for dressing the way I do.

A couple of days ago I read and heard about the president of France wanting to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa because he sees it as a symbol of slavery and an insult to the woman's freedom. He could not be more wrong. Why would my freedom be impaired because I choose to dress modestly?

The images of violence from the Middle East, the tendency to identify terrorists as Islamic, and the general negative tone of the media when it comes to Muslims are a cause for concern. Yet, the numbers show that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world — so I know we must be doing something right.

About the Project

"The Muslim world" is a phrase that lumps together a complex and diverse group of people and cultures, but one that rarely humanizes the personal and cultural expressions of Muslim identity. On Being’s First Person initiative is an attempt to better understand adherents of the faith by asking each individual to share his or her perspective of what it means to be a Muslim living in the 21st century.