It isn’t an understatement to state that the past few months, if not years, have been a real trial for the spirit of our muslim community. The travel ban, the raging wave of Islamophobia, and the inquiring stares asking ‘why are you here’ have lead us to question our identity and our self-worth more often than not. The biggest conundrum in the midst of all this self-doubt is knowing how to lift other people up when it is a struggle to keep ourselves from succumbing to the cloud of cynicism. Addressing a group of middle schoolers and community college students who are already having their self-worth tested by college admissions, sister Lobna Mulla not only provided a solution for this dilemma but also set a remarkably inspiring example.
Sister Lobna is the National Tarbiya Director of the Muslim American Society, creator of Double Shot Mocha Productions, a screenwriter, and a recent graduate of the film school of Chapman University. Her journey at Chapman University taught her the importance of believing in her own worth; being a hijabi in a screenplay writing class earned her enough scrutiny and was pressure enough without her professor questioning her presence there too. His disbelief at seeing a hijabi in his class and close-mindedness lead him to suggest that she take an incomplete in the class because he couldn’t see ‘anyway she could succeed in it’. Sister Lobna had two options: she could either heed the advice and back down or persevere despite the resistance, but she chose the third option, one that not many of us have the courage to choose in the face of a questioning authority. She didn’t just decide to persevere, she also stood up to her professor and told him point blank that ‘I will succeed, I will do whatever it takes to improve my work because I have the skill, I applied and got in and hence, deserve to be here”; she believed in herself when it would have been easier not to.
This was the message and the solution she presented to the young minds around her who are constantly having their validity questioned. She reminded the room that Allah Swt has gifted and blessed each one of us with a set of skills to be put to good use, and we need to believe in those skills even when we are told otherwise. She reminded all of us that Allah swt is the one who gives us our worth, and no one has the power to take away what he has bestowed upon us. We shouldn’t be apologetic for who we are as practicing muslims and shouldn’t limit our ambition just because others question our skills and worth. With God consciousness, we need to reassert our sense of self-worth when someone tells us to go back to where we came from, and with God consciousness, we need to continue to pursue our ambition with the knowledge that the only one we need to hold ourselves accountable is the all seeing and all knowing Allah Swt.
Photo Credit: Amber Latif