A New Identity

 Adapting into a different culture and religion can be challenging for many. For Shabab Hossain, 19, of Jamaica, Queens N.Y. becoming Muslim has helped him positively and move away from things that impacted him negatively. However, it has brought many struggles.  Although Hossain’s family was always Muslim, he never fully understood why they had to go to the Mosque and practice the religion. It was until he educated himself where everything started making sense to him and he understood the values and morals that came with being Muslim.

“About four years ago I found my faith,” said Hossain. “After embracing my faith I thought that it was hard to be Muslim and American. I told myself, this is what I have to do, it is what I want to do and it helped me move away from negative things.”

Being strong in his faith has also helped Hossain tackle Islamophobia. Hossain stated that he feels he has a voice to tackle it. “Depending on the situation where I am facing Islamophobia, I would just leave. Maybe that person doesn’t know better and maybe it’s my job to teach them better. Eventually they will see the message that I am spreading.”

Hossain has adapted to the American culture but refuses to partake in any activity that goes against his beliefs. “My faith comes before being American,” said Hossain. “My responsibility is to spread goodness in my home and people around me. Things that go against my belief are usually encouraged by my American culture but I don’t let it influence me. I embrace my American culture and like to learn and spread knowledge.”

Despite the negative stereotypes portrayed in the media about Muslims, Hossain still maintains a positive outlook and hopes to change people’s mind. “Stereotypes are there for everybody,” said Hossain. “It negatively impacts people and they’re never satisfied with anything. But my goal is to break stereotypes. I have to do as much good as I can and teach others to do good as well.”

Hossain plans to spread positive and helpful messages to those facing Islamophobia. He also plans to get stronger in his faith and continue working as the Vice President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Queensborough Community College.