Kirkwood High School student newspaper

Tess Hubbard

From left to right, Riedwan Iman, Iqra Abdullahi and Jenna Tarroum.

A walk in her shoes

February 21, 2023

Stroking the soft fabric in her hands, Iqra Abdullahi, junior, delicately places the silk scarf over her head, pinning the fabric securely in place. Putting on her pink headphones, she takes a moment to glance at her reflection one last time, and smiles to herself, admiring the way her hijab drapes around her face. She has never felt more complete.

“I’m just not me without [my hijab],” Abdullahi said. “I was in first grade when I started wearing it. My mom started putting it on me, which I never had a problem with. I thought it was kinda cool. My mom always [wears] her hijab, and I wear it because I look up to her.”

Abdullahi, who is Muslim, has been wearing the hijab, or headscarf, for as long as she can remember. She said that while she isn’t insecure about the clothes she wears, she sometimes gets weird stares or questions about her hijab.

I’m just not me without [my hijab]”

— Iqra Abdullahi

“When I was in elementary and middle school, I got questions all the time,” Abdullahi said. “People would ask me if I showered or slept in it. I understood questions like ‘Can you show [your hair] to your brother, or your dad?’ Those were valid questions, I would answer them. [For] dumb questions, I thought they deserved dumb answers, so I would be like ‘yeah, I do shower in it actually.’”

Jenna Tarroum, freshman, is also Muslim and said her friends ask many questions about her religion, especially regarding her fasting during the month of Ramadan. During this month, Muslims are required to fast each day from sunrise to sunset.

“It’s nice when my friends are curious about my religion and beliefs,” Tarroum said. “Sometimes, my [non-Muslim] friends will come over [for dinner], [break my fast] with me and celebrate Eid with me.”

Sometimes, my [non-Muslim] friends will come over [for dinner], [break my fast] with me and celebrate Eid with me.”

— Jenna Tarroum

Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, is a holiday Muslims around the world celebrate each year. Since it follows the lunar calendar, it moves back eleven days each year. This year, Ramadan will take place  March 22 to April 21, with Eid April 22.

“[Ramadan] is such a holy month for us, and it’s exciting because Eid is at the end,” Abdullahi said. “[During Ramadan], you get to spend a lot of time with your family, eat good food [and] get closer to your religion.”

The purpose of fasting is to build gratitude for basic necessities such as food and water, and become more compassionate and empathetic toward people in need. Riedwan Iman, junior, said that fasting instills a sense of humanity and morals within her.

“I think people should fast [regularly],” Iman said. “Sometimes, we forget how much we have, and when you fast, you know how it feels to be hungry, and [you can empathize] with others.”

However, fasting during Ramadan is not without its struggles, Abdullahi said. She said fasting during school hours is particularly difficult, especially when lunchtime comes around.

Sometimes, we forget how much we have, and when you fast, you know how it feels to be hungry, and [you can empathize] with others.”

— Riedwan Iman

“It is extremely difficult to fast in school, because people are eating next to you, you smell the food and your stomach is always growling, which is really embarrassing,” Abdullahi said. “[That’s why I] usually go to the office or library [during] lunchtime.”

According to Tarroum, fasting is hard in the beginning, but it becomes easier once you get used to it. Fasting is not the only obligation for Muslims, as they are required to pray five times a day, at specific times. One of the prayers happens during school hours, and Tarroum, Abdullahi and Iman said they wish there was a place where they could pray comfortably in school.

“When it is [prayer time] during class, I can’t just raise my hand, say that I need to go pray, [and leave],”  Tarroum said. “Since KHS is remodeling and moving the FAC’s [hallway], I feel like that area would be a great place to set up a prayer room or a place where [fasting students] can spend their lunchtime.”

Abdullahi agreed, and said giving Muslim students a room where they can pray during school would make them feel more comfortable and accepted. Additionally, she said, she would be able to pray on time rather than make her prayer late every day.

“Being one of the only Muslims at KHS, there isn’t really anyone else I can relate to [regarding] my beliefs or how I feel sometimes,” Tarroum said. “But at the same time, I think KHS is a welcoming place for Muslims, and [it’s nice that] people are curious and willing to learn [about my religion].”

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