Look forward to seeing you all.
Thanks for all the time and effort everyone has put into this day.
1. If you were not born in America, tell us about the country you came from:
I was born in Libya, my home country in North Africa. It is a Muslim country mainly populated by Arabs and Islam is the main religion. The people there have this great sense of hospitality and generosity, the nature of giving. The dessert that I brought today has the main ingredients of flour, honey and butter.
2. As a non-Muslim, what inspires you about the Muslim community?
What you have to put up with! I just admire your perseverance and incredible hospitality.
3. Why do Muslims pray five times a day?
Muslims believe that the true purpose of their lives is to worship God. Everything that we do is to appreciate and thank him. For example, we wake up before the sun rises for our first prayer to thank him for all the blessings we have been given. Ultimately, we pray to have a deep connection with him all the time so he can guide us through our daily lives.
4. What is the hijab from a non-Muslim point of view?
Before tonight I just thought it was something that somebody wore. What does it all mean? It is an outward representation of something that is felt very inwardly…to learn tonight that it is a choice, getting closer to your faith…it is lovely to discover what it is about.
5. What does a mosque mean to you from a Muslim point of view?
I used to say that I feel at home at concerts but now I say it is at a mosque. A mosque is a place I can call home. From a Muslim point of view, a mosque is not only a place of worship but a place that brings the community together to have social events that deal with different challenges within the community.
6. What is the most common question you get from non-Muslims?
Are you Muslim? Why are you wearing the hijab? Where you are from? A long time ago, a lady asked me if there was a specific rule as to why I had to wear a scarf. And I thought it was very random timing as we were in the mall, and we ended up having a long conversation.
7. Where do you feel most safe in the world?
Safety is a broad term, but I think I feel most safe when I am praying especially if I am at the mosque.
8. On understanding Muslims as a non-Muslim:
My mother felt it was very important to try to understand people who were not like me. That was a very important value. From the time I was very small I understood that it wasn’t ok to laugh at people who weren’t like me. I really find it quite shocking that some in America think it is ok now to bully others.
9. Do you believe that one day we will all learn to love each other and come together?
Yes, I do. I believe that we will reach a time where we will all learn to love each other and come together. It won’t be easy, but it will require gaining a great deal of knowledge, exposure and appreciation on different cultures and religions.
10. On learning about the hijab as a non-Muslim:
Today, when I was trying to put on a scarf, I realized how much fun it was.
11. What inspires you in the non-Muslim community?
I think you are gifted in this country because you see a lot of diversity. You see a lot of religions and deal with them in your daily life. And then you find how much you are human here. I love this country for that.
12. On being a Muslim in America:
I would like to say something about coming to America. I have been here about 25 years. When you come here, you learn about being a Muslim. You are truly alone as you feel far away from family members back home. But you come here and find people from so many different countries, from all over the world and then you realize it’s not just about my people, it’s about people from all over the world.
13. On wearing the hijab:
It is important to clarify that the term ‘hijab’ doesn’t solely include the scarf we wear on our heads. It extends to all aspects of our lives including our attire. Hijab ultimately embodies modesty which also includes modest behavior and speech. Contrary to popular belief, the characteristics of exhibiting modesty and upholding morals in Islam are a command for men as well.
14. On being a Muslim:
Everything we do is an act of worship for us. As a Muslim, as a human being if you see someone who needs help, you lend a hand. If I can be part of something bigger then why not, just taking on that opportunity is a feeling I love at the end of the day.
15. What is the most important thing that non-Muslims could learn about Muslims that would make your life easier?
I wish that non-Muslims would educate themselves about Islam and our culture and be careful about their sources since the media portrays us in such a bad way. Muslims are trying their best to show non-Muslims that we are not terrorists and that our religion promotes peace.