My Experience Of Being Muslim In The USA

Growing up as a Muslim has been very onerous for myself. For these past years, I’ve always been scared to tell others my ethnicity, what my religion was, and where both of my parents were from. Every time I would tell someone where my family was from, they would have this weird look, and I knew they were subconsciously making preconceived judgements. It always made me feel very insecure and ashamed of telling people that I was Afghan, or that I was Muslim.

Ever since 9/11 occurred in this country, I feel like the whole name of Islam tainted in people’s eyes. People getting scared when they see Muslims praying on the floor or when they see women wearing hijabs in the streets of New York City. Being Middle Eastern and being Muslim have been joined together to mean the same thing. They automatically associate being Afghan to being Muslim and to being a terrorist. Anyone in this country can be those evil people that were behind 9/11- it doesn’t matter what your skin color is, or what you believe in, any single human being can do terrible things in this world. Regardless, growing up other kids would pick on me and tell me “look it’s your family on the news”, and that would devastate me.

Once in middle school there was a class project on your background, such as what country your family originated from, what kind of food did your country have, what holidays did they have, etc… I was too scared to tell the whole class where we came from: Kabul, Afghanistan. I didn’t want the other students to make fun of me or look at me like I don’t belong in that classroom. So, what I did instead was research on Mexico, a whole project on a country and culture that I had nothing to do with. I was nervous to share my project, but when it was finally my turn to go up, everyone in the class didn’t look at me different, or say harmful things about me, and that’s what made me calm. The crazy thing is, the whole class actually bought it and thought I was from Mexico- or at least they didn’t question me about it.

I eventually told people I was Muslim when I got older because I was too old to lie about who I really am. I no longer wanted to hide my identity, I wanted to be an example of how harmless and ordinary we really were. The small percentage of radical Muslims who commit acts of terrorism make a terrible name for the religion of Islam, which comes back to hurt me and my family. Throughout the final years of high school, I finally opened my eyes and realized that no one should be ashamed of where they come from, or what they believe in- the only thing that matters is to be happy with what you have, where you are now, and what you make of yourself.

By the time I reached junior year, I learned to appreciate what makes me, and I will continue to carry that mindset until the end. My name is Sohil Azizi, and yes that is an ethnic name because I come from a Muslim and Afghan household. Throughout life I’ve been struggling with this, compromising who I am in order to avoid harassment. Nevertheless, that is not a solution. I now embrace my identity and background, encouraging others to not be afraid of showing who they really are.

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My Experience Of Being Muslim In The USA. (2023, Jan 26). Retrieved from