Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Mariyam Tijani - no compromising her belief

Published:Saturday | April 9, 2016 | 4:00 AMShanna Kaye Monteith
Tijani: As a Muslim, your religion is a way of life, so it's not that you can pick it up when you feel like. You have to make your decisions around the practice and rulings of the religion.
Tijani says her faith does not prevent her from having fun.
I love my religion, it defines me and I wouldn't change as I have no doubt.
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Mariyam Tijani is a young Muslim woman living in a Christian society, and even though she's of a foreign religion, growing up was easy.

"I had a normal childhood playing with my friends - most of my whom were Muslims - so I spent a lot of my time at Islamic camps or seminars so that I could be around them. In primary school, there was no discrimination because we were kids and we didn't really care much; we just wanted to play," she said.

She, however, admitted that she was a bit uneasy when she began wearing her hijab (Islamic headscarf) in high school.

"I remember showing up on the first day nervous, but what I realise with us Jamaicans is that we are mostly curious about things we're not used to. So a couple of girls approached me to ask about my outfit, and after that, I realised I really had nothing to be nervous about. I just allowed them to ask their questions and feel free around me," she said.

As with all beliefs, there are guidelines, so attending an all-girls institution at the time proved a plus for Tijani as she explained that Muslim women try to limit their interactions with males unless there is a need to do so.

And though most of what she wore for school and co-curricular activities were altered, Tijani told Family and Religion that her faith does not prevent her from having fun.

"As a Muslim, your religion is a way of life, so it's not that you can pick it up when you feel like. You have to make your decisions around the practice and rules of the religion. I still have fun, but because of my beliefs, what you consider fun might not always interest me. So my friends know if they are planning anything and want me to attend, it shouldn't involve dance, parties, drinking or smoking. But I'd go to a park, watch movies and go out to eat," she said.

Tijani was born to Nigerian parents and has been a Muslim all her life, and according to her, she has never considered changing her religion.

"I tell people that even though I was born a Muslim, I chose my religion. A part of my religion is that you must read [for yourself], not just accept what leaders tell us. So I've read about the different religions, in and out of class - Christianity, Hinduism, and so on.

I question my Christian friends, but it always goes back to the basis of believing in the Creator and the concept of the Creator, which is what Islam has. And I've never thought of changing. I tell people all the time: I love my religion. It defines me, and I wouldn't change as I have no doubt," she shared.

familandreligion@gleanerjm.com