You wake up to your alarm, make wudu, and pray Fajr. You barely have your eyes open as you finish, say your salams and head back to bed. After you’ve hit your snooze button a couple of times, your school alarm goes off. You get dressed, pack your bag and zoom out the door! As you drive to school, you stop at a red light, look briefly to your right to see the person in the car next to you giving you an angry stare. What’s up with them? You wonder. As you carry on with your day, you notice stares becoming more frequent. You ignore the stares and nicely look back with a smile.

As school wraps up, you head off to work with 5 minutes before your shift begins. Once your shift is over, you ask your manager what is needed for you to do and you get directed to your final task of the evening. One of your co-workers approaches, all smiles, and begins to start up a conversation. So what is your religion called again?  So do you have to wear the scarf forever, can you ever take it off?  So you pray five times a day? For Ramadan, you can’t eat or drink anything, not even some water? You begin to exchange answers as more questions come your way. She begins to tell you that you’re the first Muslim that she’s ever talked to.

Then, the conversation takes the twist you were hoping wouldn’t happen, politics. The new president, the Muslim Ban, and anything along that line were fair game for any of the upcoming conversation. You’re not like the news says, your religion I mean. From what you’ve told me, it seems pretty peaceful. You were completely shook at this point. Not from what she explained to you necessarily, but from how big of an impact you had on her. It wasn’t even just her, your classmates, professors, neighbors, saw you as “the representation” of Islam, whether right or wrong. So what does this mean for me? For all of us representing Islam every single day? We build the legacy of Islam that the people around us see. We are what people look at to compare to what the media tells them. The fact of the matter is that we will bring change to this image. But, it has to start somewhere. We interact with a large network of people everyday that judge us and our actions. With such a big entitlement and role in our Muslim Ummah, it is on us to take action! So what’s next? Take charge of your behavior and let the beauty of Islam shine through. Be the best Muslim you can be and build your legacy!

By Nour Shihadeh