About this sample
About this sample
2 pages /
2 pages /
In the following essay I want to share a religious autobiography of myself in 1,000 words.
Islam is a religion that is often misinterpreted as a male-dominated religion where personal rights are regularly ignored or abused. However, this is a false stigma that has been perpetuated in Western culture, and it is important to understand the reality of the situation. Growing up with first-generation immigrant parents and being the oldest of four brothers allowed me to be a leader in what some consider a strict religion. Living in the United States resulted in Western culture influencing our Muslim household which gave me the freedom to develop my own opinions and choose what aspects of Islam I wanted to follow.
Growing up, I was the oldest of four brothers, and therefore had an abundance of responsibility. I was a role model for them, and similar to the saying; “Monkey see, monkey do” I was their sense of direction. This applied to all aspects of life, but most important was my manner toward our religious Saturday school. I recognized quickly that if I seldom wanted to attend, or if I acted like it was a chore, I’d pass those behaviors to my siblings. Every Saturday my parents would pile us into the van and drop us off at our neighborhood mosque. We would spend the next hours reciting verses from the Quran, learning how to be an ideal Muslim and reading and writing in Arabic. It was a Saturday ritual until I turned twelve when I decided it wasn’t for me anymore. My parents resisted, but I assured them it was better for them to save their money. What I had gathered from the classes were like what I had been learning in Middle School. We had just finished learning about the “golden rule” and ways to help in our community, and I felt that sitting in a classroom for hours during the weekend instead of taking action on those words was a waste of time. I became involved in my community more and felt a sense of good. I strongly believed in “taking care of your neighbor” and helping the less fortunate. Islam addresses the importance of taking care of each other, and I wanted to put those words into action. My outlet of choice was to join the Girl Scouts of America and from then on community service was a part of my life.
As I grew older, I was developing my own opinions about religion. There were a handful of my girlfriends from school who had worn the Hijab after going through puberty. There is a double standard with women in Islam that we are to not distract boys with our developed bodies. Thankfully, my parents did not force this upon me. They allowed me to wear what I pleased including the volleyball uniform in high school. It was only when I was in the company of my brothers and father I am asked to cover up. This frustrated me because it would require me to have layers of clothing on, summers included, while my brothers could walk around in their boxer-briefs unscathed by my parent’s opinion. This was when I had the revelation that, despite us attending the same religious classes, following the same prayer times and fasting, I had more restrictions because of my gender. I questioned my faith because I felt like a second-class citizen. Women had far more rules such as covering up, no sex before marriage, and in some parts of the world no access to basic education. Although it sounds on the surface as if the religion oppresses women; I found that it truly does not. While the religion is conservative in nature, as many others are, these more radical forms are not truly from the holy text.
Despite the unfair differences I perceived, I continued to practice Islam because it gave me peace of mind. Praying five times a day allowed for mental breaks where it could just be God and I. It was a moment of self-reflection and meditation. There were moments during my early years in college where I had episodes of depression. I recall my mother urging me to turn on a verse and just listen to the words and allow them to wash over me. I reveled in the feeling of recognizing there was something out there bigger than me. It felt like a one-sided therapist session and afterward; my feelings of doubt had subsided. During the months of Ramadan, I felt stronger mentally despite being physically feeling weaker from fasting all day. It was a sacred detox and involved the frustrating task of averting to vengeful behavior, foul language and loss of temper. You would use that time for spiritual reflection, and to devote more time to the Islamic teachings. The month brings brothers and sisters together and a true feeling of unity, especially when it felt unpopular or even dangerous to be a Muslim. Despite the negative connotations Islam has received recently, I have stuck to my faith because it was there for me. I was an influence to my siblings and to my friends. I was open-minded with other religions. I have impressed my friends with my will-power to not drink or eat any pork-related products. That discipline influenced my friends so much that a few of them have stopped drinking.
Throughout this religious journey, I am continually learning about the religion and aspects that fit into my life. As I get older, I am growing closer to the religion, but from the perspective of a western woman. I have allowed myself to grow in Islam and remain a leader in my mosque, community and with my brothers.
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