People can inspire you just by being themselves – I know that for a fact. As someone who likes people watching, observing, listening, inspiration comes to me in different forms but mostly from people and events around me. Recently I went to my high school for an iftar, and it brought back a lot of memories. People change, I don’t have a problem with that because its nature. But the direction in which people change, that is what matters. It’s heartwarming to see how people change for the better, even if when I knew them back in the day they were notorious for their less than stellar attitudes. It kind of gives you hope and pride and lots of respect for them, for being able to overcome their past and starting fresh, and going beyond everyone’s expectations. You feel happy for them because they had the strength and drive and consciousness to improve themselves, shed they old skin and head in the right direction. If they can do it, then so can I.

Then there are those who, after leaving, changed for the worse. Off came the hijabs; gone are the self restraints, limitations. I’m not a judgmental person; at least I try my best not to be, but its heart wrenchingly sad. Did their years in an Islamic school really not have any impact on their moral compass?

Which led me to think of something else. How much does our past or the people in our past affect us now? For example, in the states I used to wear a scarf to school, I was in 2nd grade back then. It was hard but I wore it because that what I was told to do, Alhamdulillah, and I was an obedient child. My best friend back then was a Finnish girl named Saara. When I moved to Malaysia and she moved back to Finland, we lost contact for years and years, and only recently managed to get back in touch. And what she told me in our first few emails really amazed me. I had told her that I have a Finland obsession, stemmed partially from having known her, and she said

“oh, and if I gave you a Finland obsession then you definitely gave me one on Islam. I think ever since I’ve found Islam really fascinating. The summer that we left the states (’95 as well) I remember often trying on a scarf or a towel to cover my head as if with a veil. I wonder if my parents were shocked at the time… probably not :). Now in Finland I’ve been sad to realize that not everyone has the same attitude towards Islam. I guess it’s mostly that people don’t really know much about it, but still it’s not right.”

Now she is kind of a social activist who regularly makes trips to Palestine in an effort to mediate peace. there really are no words which describe my admiration for her work, and if I had the smallest part to play in her being as amazing as she is, then I would feel content, and even if I didn’t, I would still be immensely proud of her.

I wish I had more strength to stand up for what I believe in, to stick to my values and principles, and to improve myself. I wish I had more strength to say NO.

Be the best you can be, not only because that’s what you should strive for, but also because you never know when someone is being inspired by you.

let me reiterate – IT WARMS YOUR HEART. it really really really does

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