BY TAYLOR DESMOND
Strips of fabric on the ground direct the followers of Islam toward Mecca so that they may perform their rakats along them. For Aminah Khalil, these guidelines are present throughout her life, during many a morning prayer and class at her mosque. She travels there every Saturday and Sunday, and even attends a sermon on the Fridays when she is free after school.
Green carpets are decorated with intricate tan stripes that Muslims line up along when they stand in salah, now ready to perform the first of five prayers for the day. The Sūrat al-Fātiḥah is an essential part of salat, and is hummed throughout the small, but convenient mosque.
But when she’s on the CHS campus, Aminah Khalil is the only student wearing a hijab.
The complex language of Arabic is something Khalil has had to work on through 10 years of practice, as it is something she routinely speaks at home and at the Arabic and religion classes she takes every Saturday at the mosque.
“Most of the decisions I make are influenced by my religion in one way or another,” says Khalil. “Religion plays a huge role on my actions, how I look and my perspective on life.”
As one of the few Muslim students who attend CHS, Aminah’s religion and lifestyle are something that the majority of students often overlook. Khalil juggles her academic classes with lacrosse, field hockey, sports medicine and the religious factors in her life. She often finds that her free seventh period is the only time she is able to relax.
Along with attending sermons on weekends and taking classes to better comprehend her native Arabic, Khalil is an active participant in the one major holiday that all Muslims share: Eid.
“On this day, everyone dresses up and goes to the Eid prayer. Children receive gifts and money, and we all have really good food,” says Khalil. “Eid is celebrated twice a year; once after Ramadan, the month of fasting from sunup to sundown, and once after a hajj, where we remember those in conflicts and those who have lost their lives.”
The junior does not perform Salah, her obligatory five daily prayers, during school hours, and therefore makes it a point to do her afternoon prayer once she gets home from school as she is allowed to push it back because she is too busy during the school day.
At home, her three older and three younger siblings follow a westernized lifestyle and have an Arab mom who, according to Khalil, fits the cliché of making sure everyone is happy and fed whenever a guest is in their presence.
The student’s struggles consist not only of rushing up from the junior parking lot as the school bell rings and sleeping past her alarm, but receiving stares from peers at CHS. However, she notes that she doesn’t mind it so much anymore.
“It is obviously extremely hot to wear a hijab and play sports, especially in field hockey season when you’re running sprints,” says Khalil.
But the Muslim teenager’s hijab isn’t a boundary for expressing herself and her clothing choices. Aminah has attended Homecoming and Winter Ball in a group of her closest friends every year to be an active member of the student body, something that has always been important to her.
She also worked in leadership classes as soon as she moved into the school district in middle school, and continues her devotion in high school by involving herself with the club “This Club Saves Lives.”
Aminah Khalil isn’t hesitant about pushing for a better world, always adorning an iconic smile on her face as she walks through the halls of Carmel High School.