Humans of Orland Park is a project that aims to provide a glimpse into the lives of the people of Orland Park, one story at a time. The content provided in this piece is taken from interviews with our subjects.
What makes you Muslim?  
Islam is more than just believing in Allah swt, it is about applying it to your character and everyday life. Being Muslim means caring for your brothers and sisters in Islam; being Muslim means putting others before yourself; being Muslim means being able to stand up for what is right and protect your religion from those who try to knock it down. Being Muslim means being a selfless and kind human being. What does hijab mean to you?
The way I see it, hijab shouldn’t hold you back or make you feel any less beautiful than you are. Hijab, to me, makes a girl look 100 times more beautiful. Notice, I said beautiful. Any girl can look pretty by doing her hair and wearing nicer, more in-style clothing, but those girls don’t know what it is like to hide it all for the sake of Allah swt. You stand out by wearing a hijab. You stand out by symbolizing strength, modesty and most importantly, the religion of Islam because one glance at a hijabi and you know she is a Muslim. Hijab, in my eyes, is an honor. It is an opportunity to be able to look and feel beautiful to the community. InshaAllah, one day a man will love me for who I am, rather than what I look like. Most importantly, I pray that my hijab will be my key to Allah’s pleasure and Paradise.  

What makes you feel accomplished?
I would like to begin by saying that everyone has a different definition of what makes them feel accomplished. What, personally, makes me feel accomplished is when I put in effort into anything and the outcome is way better than I thought. Additionally, if I can become a better person through that action, my perception of myself is elevated. Many of us have aspirations in life and one of mine is to please Allah swt. If I can do what I love and serve my ummah, that will be what makes me feel accomplished.

What inspires you?
My biggest inspirations are and always have been my parents. In all honesty, there has never been anything that they wouldn’t do for me. My mom has always been a stay at home parent; I can positively say, without even asking her, that she chose this path for my siblings and I. Since I can remember, my dad has always been overworking himself in order to provide for us. The kind of sacrifices my selfless parents make, the exhausting and seemingly never ending work they put in, and the all consuming love and commitment they have towards my siblings and I are all things that I can’t help but admire. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for them both. I strive to, one day, have the kind of devotion my parents do.

By Maryam Mohamed