Covering her head with a black burqa, wearing a floor length dress, topped off with a colorful blue cardigan Sahra Ali is a first year student here. From Rochester, Minn. to South Philly, Ali engages herself in a diverse college atmosphere.
A Muslim and second semester freshman, Ali feels right at home here.
“I haven’t had any weird or rude comments towards me,” Ali said. She doesn’t think being Muslim is any different from being Muslim anywhere else.
Ali’s parents were the first generation to move to the United States from Somalia, which is located in East Africa. Ali and her four brothers lived in Minnesota with their parents and just three years ago moved to South Philly. She grew up speaking Somali, but learned English rather quickly.
“My parents like me to speak Somali when I’m at home” Ali said. “It soon changes once I am up at school.”
“I am confident with my faith” Ali said. “ I am confident within myself.” Faith has always been right by her side, it is very strong in her heart. It has followed her all through her life, therefore not being around her parents, as much doesn’t have the biggest effect on her.
“I know where I stand,” Ali said.
Ali grew up Muslim, but when people look at her they don’t always see it. They sometimes ask if she is of African-American decent, which she is, but African-Americans and Somalias go hand in hand. Many who are of Muslim decent attach themselves to one of two groups the Sunnis or the Shiites.
“If asked I would consider myself a Sunni” Ali said. “But I do not follow that faith directly, I am just Muslim.”
Growing up and still to this day the Muslim faith requires one to pray at least 5 times a day.
“I’ll be honest, I try my best, but sometimes it can be difficult,” Ali said. According to the Koran, which is the central religious text of Islam, women are supposed to cover themselves.
“The Koran states how much you are to cover and how to cover” Ali said. Some may where large scarfs, some do not, it really all depends on what you are comfortable with. “No one will force you.” As soon as Ali gets home she immediately takes it off, “it does not have to be worn 24/7,” Ali said.
Even though Ali is a commuter, she doesn’t feel that if she were to live on campus there would be much of a difference.
“Although if I were to live on campus, I would be around people all the time” Ali said. “If I lived here I would have to be aware all the time.”
“Some people don’t always think about their faith, sometimes it leaves them,” Ali said. “It’s all up to that person and their decision in the end.”
Currently Ali is a communication major; her main focus right now is journalism. She hasn’t had a chance to take the class yet, but she is eager to jump right in.
“Since I am from Somalia, I will definitely interconnect that with journalism” Ali said. She had chosen Cabrini and with a little guidance from her cousin she ended up coming here after all.