Zeina Alkhalaf is a Muslim American woman. She's lived in the United States since she was 9 years old, and has been involved in both the non-profit world as well as public health. She started a non-profit organization when she was 16 years old called Raising Smiles that brought 5 children from Iraq that were hurt in the war to the United States to receive prosthetics and treatment. After being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 23, she decided to then start a blog about health education and how to live positively through a diagnosis such as PCOS. She shares all things health related from safe products to use, health recipes as well as toxic items to stay away from. She is currently getting her Masters in Public Health at George Mason University and shares all the important information she's learning through her blog “Confessions of an Organic Mama”.
Thoughts on Hijab:
What does the Hijab mean to you?
Hijab has been the quintessential driving force within my life. I remember being so terrified to put on the hijab 2 years ago because I was afraid I would feel out of place with it on. I realized quickly after putting it on that my identity as a Muslim woman became stronger and I was able to propel to higher limits with my hopes and dreams as a visibly dressed Muslim woman.
What inspires you to wear hijab?
The stereotypes of Muslims is what inspires me to wear the hijab every single day. When I wake up, I realize that I’m walking out of the house with a scarf on my head that exposes me to prejudices that I must overcome. This pushes me to accomplish more and extend the threshold on what I’m perceived to achieve as a Muslim woman both within our Muslim community and the traditional American community.
What advice do you have for those who are struggling with it?
If you are struggling with either putting on the hijab, keeping it on or after you’ve taken it off I would tell you create a stronger relationship with Allah. The best thing that I’ve gained from putting on my hijab is that it was simply a stepping stone to strengthening my relationship with Allah. Continuing a strong relationship with Allah goes beyond keeping the scarf on your head, and while it is an essential part of our religion, we must understand that we have to work harder everyday to keep that relationship as close as possible. No one will hear your worries, concerns or fears more than Allah will. He is our almighty supporter, protector, guider and comforter. Some of the things that I do on a daily/weekly basis is extra prayers, duaa, reading quraan, listening to lectures and giving charity.
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