Practicing Islam in USA is not difficult as most people are educated and understand the fact that different people have different beliefs and religions. In United States population is very diversified so mostly people do not care about other people’s religion and followings. Exceptions are always there so there might be some areas where people are extremists and hates Muslims but they don’t openly declare it. Government does not support any extremism and no one can prohibit a Muslim to follow his religions peacefully. There are mosques in almost every city however Azan cannot be performed on loudspeaker.
Role of Mosques in USA:
You can easily find a mosque in your or nearby area. The mosque will not have domes and minarets, it will be like a big hall or a hall with some separate rooms for kids and ladies activities. Muslim women in United States are more active mosque visitors than the women in Pakistan. Many women says regular prayers in Mosque, you will see lots women during Jumma prayers and on Eid prayers almost every mosque is so filled with women that there is no place to even stand. Mosque culture is bit different in United States because mosque is a Muslim community center too. You will see all type of other activities there. People arrange social gatherings and even perform weddings in mosques. The true essence of having a mosque can be experienced where people gather to discuss issues and true value of Muslim. In almost all mosques on Sunday there is school for children for learning Arabic, Quran and Muslim activities. Its the preference of all Muslim parents that their children attend Sunday school.
Taking Hijab in USA?
If you take any sort of Hijab, you might be interested knowing how people react to that. Overall Hijab does not make any difference. People from bigger cities are totally use to it and you may never feel someone staring at you because of your Hijab, Scarf or Dupata. Many women land in United States for the first time in their traditional clothing and no one even bothers to look at them so you don’t need to buy American dresses in advance. Be confident of what you wear.
If you are planning to live in a small town where there is less population or its not diversified then there are chances that people might notice you and stare at you however they will not make fun of you or say anything to you except that “I love your dress” or “Nice Dress” etc.
I have noticed only one issue with Hijab that if you are looking for a white collar job then people might feel reluctant to hire you for the first time, especially when in a particular job you have to interact with the customers or higher management. This isn’t true for most situations because there are women on very higher positions working in United States with their Hijabs.
Pakistani’s as terrorists?
I have never personally faced any situation where someone has called me or any of my friends a terrorist. People in United States are mostly diplomatic so they will never talk about it on your face. The situation might be different in different areas as some people do not feel shame abusing others especially someone with Muslim appearance. You will get frustrated the most at airports because you will have extra security checking and you will always be checked with special care. While entering in United States you will always be the part of random special checks, it is always painful and very time consuming. There also are some scary news in newspapers where some taxi driver was killed only because he was Muslim, or some random students were sentenced for life imprisonment because they were playing paint ball . The details are discussed in chapter “COMPARISON OF PAKISTANI AND USA LIFE”.
Using water in washrooms:
The word rest room is used in place of washroom in USA. You will never find water in toilet except that you are using a toilet in a Halal restaurant or Mosque. I still remembered when I’ve reached in United States for the first time and misunderstood the word “Rest Room” with a room where people rest. You will always find a rest room with a sign of men/women in almost all buildings, restaurants, shops or airports. Mostly rest rooms are separated for men and women however there are few places with combined washrooms. Restrooms are usually very clean with regular cleaning staff attending it and you will always find soap dispenser, Hand dryer, Paper towels, Garbage can, Mirrors etc. in it.
What bothers us most while traveling is no water in the washrooms. So what can be done in this situation? We always use to carry a small bottle that can be filled from any rest room, if nothing seems to work you can use a wet tissue paper or can keep a packet of wipes with you all the time, although its disgusting but still better than using a dry tissue paper.
Interesting Facts: You will often find infant diaper changing stations (tables) in women’s/family rest rooms. If there is a sign saying family rest room it means both man and woman can go inside to attend their kids or only the men who are alone.