Muslims of Skokie

Muslims of Skokie is an exhibit at Skokie Public Library featuring portraits and stories from local residents. These men and women represent just a small fraction of the diversity of Muslims in Skokie and in the larger community. Meet your Muslim neighbors and read, in their words, how their identities as Muslims affects who they are and how they live in the world.

The exhibit was created as part of Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township 2018: Celebrating Muslim American CultureS. All portraits were taken by library staff photographer, Max Herman. It will be on view until March 19.

I moved to Skokie at the age of 9 and have always been mesmerized by its beautiful diversity, yet for some reason, I never saw someone who looked like me. Girls wore the hijab at school, but none wore it like me. I suddenly became the token Muslim figure in school, without even realizing it, and what once started as a project to diminish negative stereotypes associated with my Muslim identity, turned into the tokenization of my experience. It is almost as though I was unable to live without my experiences being compared to someone else's.

After many years of being told how I am so articulate "for a Muslim woman," and so beautiful "for a Muslim woman," I wanted to reject these stereotypes and ideas on a larger scale. When I decided to run for office, my Muslim identity was at the forefront of every article, video or question presented to me. It was something I couldn't escape. And the issue was: it was something I wanted to leave behind. I wanted to be treated as "Bushra," not "Bushra the Muslim doing *blank*." I have been on one heck of a journey but can happily share a few testaments to my hard work would be being featured on the cover of TIME magazine, Teen Vogue, and was recently named Glamour magazine's College Woman of the Year! Many *firsts* for Muslim women.

Bushra A.

It's really good to see diversity in Skokie. It's just a perfect place to live.

Saira H.

As I lived in Chicagoland for seven years now, I found life here in USA as any other country in the world especially as a Muslim. As a Muslim I am always being investigated by everyone especially that I have beard, most people are just afraid when I pass by them or if I am making my prayers! Being a Muslim with beard gives the right to companies to not hiring me that I spent almost one year without job and just borrowing money from different people that I still have to pay until now.

Having the respect to everyone seems to many people that I am afraid or that I am lying!

So, in general media already controlling most people through lies and stories they made up, and through examples they give of people we don't know if they are truly Muslims, and even if they are Muslims they could be some kind of arrogant people who don't know Islam.

So, we have to make the difference and we have to understand that Islam is not Muslim, a Muslim is a human being who can make mistakes, who can do wrong when he doesn't understand Islam well, who can get angry when he is hurt, who can act as any human being and try to protect himself when he is attacked.

We have to stop judging Muslims, and stop judging people. We only need to practice our rights freely and we have to follow law and not to judge anyone unless they come up with anything wrong and anything against law. Treat Muslims as humans you love and you want to live with. Muslims have their own beliefs and prayers and you have yours, that's the only difference between us.

I like Chicago, and I like Skokie so much that's why I moved to live in it, as well I like the entire world because the entire world is a home for me wherever I go I can live in. Don't forget Muslims at every activity you do then leave the choice to them whether they want to join it or not according to each one's beliefs.

And most importantly try to know Islam from Quran and from the last messenger of Allah Muhammad salla Allah aleih wa sallam's teachings.

Said Z.

I am a Muslim. I was born in Zanzibar in 1944. I am an internist (doctor). I have served Chicago citizens since I arrived here in 1971. I have recently published a memoir—a spiritual journey—I think you may like it. It is in Evanston and the Newberry Library. It is called "Zanzibar to Chicago: A Bohra Muslim's Search for God."


I lived in Skokie for about 20 years before moving to Morton Grove. I wish I had not moved, as Skokie was a fun town and my younger daughter was born here. All my three kids went to elementary and high school (Niles North) here. My son got a bachelor's degree from Northwestern after finishing Niles North High School here. He had his artwork displayed in Skokie Library several years ago.

I wish I could move back to Skokie again and will wait for that opportunity. I was involved in Skokie Lion's Club and with Festival of Cultures in Skokie. I loved living in Skokie and have a lot of fond memories. We are diverse like a basket of flowers of different colors, but together to achieve harmony and peace without biases or religious faiths to interfere with our happy and joyful lives.

Muhammad A.