The rumors, they’re all true.
I...god this is so hard.
A young and hip Muslim vegetarian?! Allahu-akbar kill the sheep Muslim person? Is such a thing the truth?!
Your reaction is likely one of the two: You don’t mind, or you have trouble believing me. Or, upon learning of my new preference, your reaction follows that of my friend Suhaib: “You’re such a vegan hippie I’m surprised you don’t smoke crack.” In fact, the reactions I’m getting make me kind of embarrassed to admit it: Aunties are convinced I’m full on “american” (likely influenced by my mom’s commentary) and almost roll their eyes when they find out, friends begin with the classical “you know chicken is dead anyway right?” like it’s a Quranic revelation, and my mom hits me with the “at least have one chicken leg...” truly missing the point. In fact, the truth is, I’m writing this blog post as a response to all the questions I’m tired of answering.
2. Why have you denied yourself chicken wings?
A) Health: I never was really a fan of red meat (except the occasional burger) because it tastes weird and because of all the health risks involved.
B) Ethics: What if a superior race that was smarter than us and couldn’t communicate with us thought they could exploit and eat us because we were yummy?
Also, I’m one hundred percent aware that in Islam eating meat is permissible. BUT, that’s only if it’s one hundred percent halal, or slaughtered in a way specified in the Quran and Sunnah in a manner that causes the least amount of pain to the animal (laying it down, closing its eyes, etc). That method is a lot rarer than it seems: halal meat companies are succumbing the the KFC style mass massacre of sweet animals and, according to a lot of recent research (refer to Ibrahim Abdul-Matin’s Green Deen), ARE NOT following islamic guidelines. Mistreating animals is a much greater sin than denying myself this meat.
C) Environmentalism: Have you seen factory farms? Animals are barely given space to move and have to stand in their own feces for hours on end.
3. How do you keep yourself in check?
As a desi person, meat is a lot bigger part of our culture than many have noticed. EVERY single party features an array of spiced, baked, boiled, and grilled chicken or beef, and I’ll admit: it’s HARD. At parties, I’ll take longer than necessary to take the “non meat” portion of the salaan while fat twelve year olds push and shove behind me in line. I crave chicken wings a lot. However, you have to always put your beliefs before your desires. THINK OF THE SAD BLEEDING CHICKENS.
When I’m at someone’s house and I see no vegetarian dishes/ they make a plate for me/ someone sends me food, as per manners of the Prophet Muhammad, I will eat it if i have to. Sure, I’ll offer it to neighbors/put it back, but the goal is not to waste, because that means the poor guys died for no reason.
4. Do you think you’ll be a vegetarian forever?
At this point in my life, I’m uncertain I’ll keep it up in the future. Frankly, I don’t know. I feel like I may try to, but cultural expectations and things will get in the way and it will become harder. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop without putting up a fight. I want to try it for six months and see how i feel afterwards. LOL, I’m just waiting for someone to bring this article up if I ever decide to leave pescetarianism.
5. Ok but how do you eat fish and eggs? Fish can cry and be sad to die too?
Firstly, the eggs aren’t fertilized so I’m not killing anyone’s child. Fish can’t experience pain as much as other higher vertebrates and are a good source of animal protein. Also, sushi is yum.
6. Does it suck?
In a brown household/community like mine, it truly does. I’m constantly mocked for my beliefs and called a tryhard, wannabe, etc. Sometimes I want to slap people on the face: I don’t owe them an explanation. I can eat/not eat whatever I want without having to go through a step by step. Every time I let someone know, they try to put me through some islamic debate, challenge me with all these questions they read on the internet, or try convince me out of it. In fact, sometimes a conversation starter is, “ha, Duriba’s vegetarian now, LOL!!!!!”. Which is cool, whatever. But my diet didn’t concern anyone so much before, why does it suddenly?
I hope these questions put your burning desires to rest. The moral of the post is to not let yourself be an annoying prick and let people live their lives the way they want to.
Hey, guys. I graduated high school.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. 45% of you guys are reacting like my third cousin who found out I kept her in my will, like “Congrats!!! So proud of you!!!!!.” 30% of you are like, “oh congrats. It only gets harder. Enjoy it.” Another percent of you guys are proud of me for resisting dirty things like peer pressure and retaining my roots and identity. And the rest of you? The rest of you guys are unbothered, likely posting Hookah videos on Snapchat hoping to be acknowledged by everyone except your parents.
Except, here’s the thing.
I didn’t have what one would describe as a “traditional” high school experience. While most teens complained about cafeteria lunches tasting like pelican feces, I scarfed down daal chawal every other day during lunch. While most teens couldn’t decide what to wear to school, I donned an Abaiyah and matching hijab (with my American Eagle pajamas peeking out from underneath, of course) every single day. While most teens had to work hard to preserve their islamic faith by abstaining from mixing with other genders and praying on time, I prayed Duhr (the afternoon prayer) alongside my classmates and I communicated with my Hafiz crushes through Google buzz by liking their statuses (that was literally it) up until last year. While most teens tried hard to fit into an accepting crowd, my classmates, principal and administration were my family (Some of us were actually related).
Because I don’t practice the hijab, because I look like any other Indian girl, and because I never had to deal with instances of standing up for my religion, my Muslim experience in the US is seriously downplayed. In fact, the closest thing I experienced to discrimination was not islamophobia, but racist remarks comes in very subtle doses of “where are you really from?” from the lady in line after me at Whole Foods and “Is it a cultural garment?!” to my Forever 21 elephant print dress.
At school, all my friends had heroic tales to tell about the time they stood up to the old white bearded man in the Chevrolet truck with the “Texas Secede” bumper sticker who made a gun motion with his fingers and pointed it at them. Although I cheered them on and offered high fives, I felt a little empty inside. I too wanted to stand up for my beliefs and take a stand. But instead, I sulked in my seat and continued to pick at my daal chawal.
Looking back, it all seems a little petty. It’s true that I haven’t had the most enlightening Muslim American experience. No CIA officers knocked at my door like those brave stories I read on Facebook, no one ever called me a rag head. If I ever wore a hijab in public, it was complimented, not ridiculed. No one left trash on my lawn on 9/11, and I was never followed. I found myself nitpicking situations to search for racist and discriminatory undertones because to me, if I didn’t stand up to the bigots, I was a silent voice. I wasn’t muslim enough for my opinions to be considered. Although it’s true that I haven’t had the most profound, life changing muslim american upbringing, my muslim american experience is not invalid.
When I discuss how US policy making affects indigenous Muslim populations, I do not deserved to be hushed. When I claim the title as an Islamic High School’s student body president, I don’t deserved to be looked at twice because I post too many selfies. As Muslims, we all seem to have trouble understanding that even though all of our religious journeys take on different paces, routes, and methods, our destination is the same. Our experiences, appearances, and opinions must always be considered equal and valid, despite where we are on our roads, and lastly, that judging is reserved only for God and god alone.
Due to my position as Student Body President, I was requested to give some remarks at my graduation ceremony not too long ago. I do have a video, but I started crying in the middle and it got really boogery and emotional. Below is the transcript of the speech, and it all, one hundred percent, from the heart.
So it all lead up to this.
The long endless nights of reviewing for AP tests, the random metro bus routes to ACC that resulted in too many trips for ice cream, the stressing, all of the student council events, the early morning debate tournament bus rides, cramming, tutoring, loving and losing…
It all lead up to this moment, and all I can say is Alhamdullilah (thank god).
Although these past four years have not gone by smoothly or quickly, they were packed with ingredients for a beautiful future. They grappled and molded me into me, and for this, I am eternally grateful.
Wherever I end up, it will certainly be far from my little private high school. Leaving APA implies leaving a world behind, a world that I will forever keep in me. Where there are no strangers.A world where I have grown so much as a leader, a subordinate, and most importantly, a slave to Allah Swt. A world that can only be described as home. As I prepare to partake in my academic endeavors at the best university in the world, I have no idea what the future holds, and I’m still deciding if i want to find out.
However, I am grateful. I would, firstly, like to thank Allah swt for this amazing opportunity, and my mother for always searching for the best in me, my father for his motivational speeches and readiness to help, my sister Shazma for her ability to make me laugh and love my younger brothers for keeping the child in me alive, and I would like to thank my family for flying out and constantly serving as my support system in life. I would also like to thank my dear and close friends for constantly pushing me to unapologetically be myself, my classmates for never failing to amuse me with their antics, and I would like to thank Ms. Diana, Mrs. Maisaa and Mr. Alex for always putting us first.
Before I formally sign off, I would like to leave some advice for my peers and classmates.
Firstly, please continue to work on strengthening student council and all it stands for. I hope and pray that it continues to live on and form leaders of you all, like it has to me. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side and strengthen our student body, and I am so proud of our progress as a student council today.
And secondly know that the future is unknown, and the ones who are strong, playful, and curious enough to accept this will go the farthest. The rest will be so busy calculating their next move to make a living, that they will forget to make a life.
With that, I take leave on this adventure that will be the rest of my life. I await so many amazing stories, lessons, and memories that I can’t wait to share with you all. Of all the blessings my high school career has bestowed upon me, your constant support and encouragement is perhaps the most important.
And now, a toast to the beginning of the end.
Here’s to another four years of love, compassion, learning and losing. Here’s to a group of talented fireworks who will make a dent in the universe. Here’s to the class of 2016.