Mecca that made me fall in love with Islam

Maryam Amir
Maryam Amir's picture via her social media page.

Although most of my family members converted to Islam, but I really didn’t want to be Muslim as a young person. I doubted whether it was for me, questioned God and I especially was not into the concept of hijab.

When I was in high school, my family and I went on the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. For the first time, I felt my heart came alive, and I knew it had been touched by God. I began reading the English translation of the Qur’an and the more I read, the more I fell in love with Islam. The Qur’an taught me about social justice; it inspired me to speak against racism, and it empowered me to stand up against sexism. The Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) completely transformed me.

I never felt so powerful, so assured, so ready to be an agent of positive change

I’m enthusiastic, energetic, passionate and assertive. I have a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and a master’s from UCLA in social justice education. I have memorized the Qur’an and speak four languages. I have scored three pointers in intense basketball games and gone running, surfing, biking and dune buggying not only with my head covered, but always wearing long, modest dresses. I am not an anomaly; Muslim women who wear hijab all around the world have incredible background and skills. You think hijab is a sign of being brainwashed? All our uniqueness is by the God’s mercy!

Islam inspired me to focus on education and to work on women’s rights

Next time anyone wants to claim we are mentally enslaved. Please remember this, does speaking on behalf of women you don’t understand make you a proponent of women’s rights? Or does it demonstrate colonial ignorance? Perhaps the one claiming others are brainwashed is the one demonstrating exactly that. Islam taught me to love myself as a woman and to appreciate, value and respect others. Isn’t that the type of message we want for our daughters? Be who you are- LOVE who you are- because God honored you with being female. Hijab is an act of thanking God for that blessing.