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Right here’s What Dwelling As A Hijabi In New York Is Actually Like

Credit score: @bengalibelle01 on Instagram

I moved to the US from Bangladesh (house of the Royal Bengal Tigers) once I was about 11 years previous. I’ve lived in Chicago, Denver, and at last settled in New York. I’m now 28 years previous and dwelling my finest life as a proud Muslim American in Queens, NY. When the beautiful Suzanna of Halal requested me if I’d be open to contributing an article about dwelling as a Muslim within the US, I couldn’t be extra ecstatic. However I used to be shocked to listen to that whereas a number of the Halal viewers are very a lot focused on visiting the US, they’re nervous about dealing with discrimination. Since I establish myself as a New Yorker, I’d like to speak about a few of my experiences dwelling right here, to hopefully make clear what it’s like being a Muslim (and a hijabi!) in New York and why you shouldn’t be afraid to go to this one-of-a-kind metropolis.

Halal Meals

It’s laborious to speak about life in New York with out mentioning the meals 😉 Out of all of the states I’ve ever lived in and visited, New York is by far probably the most various place which additionally means it has an enormous alternative of cuisines. From Afghani, Bengali, Chinese language, Ethiopian, Guyanese, Indian, Korean, Malaysian, Mexican, Moroccan, Yemeni, West African and so many extra – we’ve obtained all of it in New York and the most effective half is it’s halal! As a Muslim dwelling right here, I completely need to share on the plethora of meals you possibly can stay up for consuming in New York. Right here’s an inventory of a few of my favorite locations to eat at:

1.Ravagh Persian Grill

Credit score: @son_go_one on Instagram

I am going to Ravagh Persian Grill for the most effective Persian meals. My favorite is their lamb chops and Rooster Joojeh! So juicy and yummy! They’ve a number of areas, however the one close to 34th road Herald Sq. could be the perfect spot for vacationers. You may get some purchasing completed at Herald Sq. after which stroll over to Ravagh for some scrumptious halal Persian meals after which finish the evening with some stunning desserts from Girl M Cake Boutique (it’s actually a five-minute stroll from Ravagh 😊). There’s additionally a mosque known as Ar-Rahman Mosque (15 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001) minutes away.

2. Sagar Chinese language

Credit score: @noporkcity on Instagram

I am going to Sagar Chinese language for the wonderful fusion dishes of Bengali Chinese language meals. Personally, I prefer to use all of the appetizers to make a full meal. My favourites: Thai Soup, Lollipop Rooster, Fried Rooster Wonton, and the Fried Fish. When you don’t have room for all of the stuff I simply talked about, at the very least ensure to have the Thai soup. One doesn’t depart NYC with out making an attempt the notorious Sagar Thai Soup! There are three areas in NYC and all are in Queens. Keep away from going there on weekends as they are typically manner too busy!

3. High Thai Greenwich

High Thai Greenwich is my favorite halal Thai spot in NYC. It’s situated close to Washington Sq. Park, which makes it a reasonably good place for vacationers to go to – NYU is subsequent door and the realm is surrounded by the best dessert spots with treats reminiscent of rolled ice lotions, crepes, even cookie dough! There’s a actually a spot known as DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections only a few blocks from High Thai that simply sells completely different flavours of cookie dough! Simply keep away from something with marshmallows (which can include gelatin derived from animal merchandise). This space is the perfect place for halal date nights 😊

The Grilled Skirt Steak with Jeaw Sauce from High Thai Greenwich is so yummy!

4. Texas Rooster and Burgers

I am going to Texas Rooster and Burgers for the Spicy Rooster Sandwich (although they’ve beef burgers too!). It’s low cost, fast, and scrumptious. Good for a fast lunch and their rooster tenders are good for teenagers. They’ve a number of areas throughout NYC.

5. Truva Cafe and Grill

Truva Cafe & Grill is one in every of my favorite spots for Turkish meals and it’s situated in Astoria. In the summertime they’ve outside sitting and it’s simply gorgeous! The Turkish model décor makes me really feel like I’m in Turkey. It’s additionally very near a Mosque and there’s a subway station actually proper in entrance of the restaurant. I really like their rooster dishes, beef dishes, and dessert. The almond pudding with some Turkish tea is what I’d name the last word Turkish delight 😜!

6. Kabul Kabab Home

My dad and mom love going to Kabul Kabab Home for Afghani meals. They’ve two areas, one in Flushing and one in Westbury. The flushing location is less complicated to get to with public transportation however for Westbury, you will have to drive or take an Uber. My favorite is their Jujeh Kabab – the meat is so juicy and yummy!

7. Adel’s Well-known Halal Meals

Credit score: @edenalow on Instagram

This text wouldn’t be full with out mentioning Halal meals carts! Adel’s Well-known Halal Meals (1221 sixth Ave, close to the nook of 49th Avenue and sixth Avenue)  is my absolute favorite (and so a lot better than The Halal Guys which I personally discover to be overrated), however the one draw back is that Adel’s is simply open at evening so it’s ultimate to go to after 6pm. That mentioned, they’re open just about all evening!. It’s situated on the coronary heart of Rockefeller Centre, good for somebody visiting NYC for the primary time. You may go to High of the Rock after which finish the evening with some scrumptious NYC model Halal Cart Meals adopted by some Banana Pudding from Magnolia’s Bakery proper throughout from the halal cart.

8. Chick In

Since we don’t have a halal Nandos in New York, Chick In  (situated in Queen’s Village) is the subsequent neatest thing. Their Peri Peri rooster mixed with the spicy fries is perfection!

9. Tagine

Tagine (situated at221 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018) is one in every of my favorite Moroccan eating places and it’s situated proper within the centre of Occasions Sq.. The meals is scrumptious, their Lamb Tagine is the proper strategy to calm down after strolling throughout Occasions Sq.. We often go there after watching a film or a Broadway Present, the restaurant is strolling distance from the Theatre District.

10. Eateries in Jackson Heights

Credit score: Tong_Nyc on Fb

And at last, Jackson Heights! You may’t depart NYC earlier than visiting Jackson Heights at least as soon as. It’s simply a straightforward subway experience away and as quickly as you get out of the station at Roosevelt Ave you’ll really feel like you’re in a Muslim nation 😜 First cease: Tong _NYC for the most effective Bangladeshi road meals – be sure you attempt the fuchka (a well-liked snack of crispy shells that having fillings) and don’t neglect to ask for further Tamarind Water (the accompanying sauce that you just dip the fuchka in)! Then stroll over to Haat Bazaar for the most effective Haleem (beef lentil soup) on this planet! The place may look slightly shady however let’s be sincere, everyone knows these locations have the most effective meals. For dessert, go to one of many many Indian/Bengali/Pakistani grocery shops there and seize a pistachio-flavoured Shahi Kulfi. It is going to be the most effective dessert you ever have for less than $2! Finish your mini journey to South Asia (through Jackson Heights) with some Masala Chai from Kabab King earlier than getting again on the subway to proceed your NYC journey.

New York individuals and tradition

New Yorkers are sometimes stereotyped as being impolite, and whereas that’s true to an extent (generally we are able to come throughout as unfriendly or brusque), it’s simply our nature and often has nothing to do with discrimination (we’re impolite to everybody equally 😂). In my expertise, there’s completely no room for racism with REAL New Yorkers. For instance, should you have been ever to come across somebody spewing racial slurs within the subway, I can assure you there will probably be at the very least be one New Yorker within the practice that may put an finish to that shortly. I bear in mind one time whereas taking the bus, a passenger was impolite to me as a result of I had unintentionally ran into him. Earlier than he might end no matter impolite comment he was saying, a lady began telling him to again off in a really New York manner. One other time, I fell asleep on the subway and a woman woke me as much as inform me {that a} man on the practice was taking footage of me. She made him delete the photographs in entrance of me and get off the practice on the subsequent cease. In case you are fascinated with visiting NYC, I can guarantee you that you just shouldn’t be afraid of discrimination. There isn’t any room for that nonsense in New York, and New Yorkers will ensure of that.

The Muslim neighborhood

Credit score: Masjid ‘Eesa ibn Maryam – Jesus, Son of Mary Mosque on Fb

In Queens alone, there are greater than 90 mosques – that’s extra mosques in only one borough of NYC than there are in all of Singapore! It was all the time vital in my household that irrespective of the place we transfer, there have to be a mosque inside strolling distance from our house. My father is 75 years previous and nonetheless walks to our favorite mosque in all of NYC, Masjid ‘Eesa ibn Maryam, for all 5 prayers day by day.

Standing out as a hijabi

My colleagues and I at a piece occasion

Whereas I really feel utterly at house in Queens (which I think about my mini Bangladesh 😂), I spend a very good period of time outdoors of it. I work in finance, which implies I spend half of my time in Manhattan (the place the business and monetary districts are concentrated). Consider me once I let you know that I stand out not simply as somebody who wears the hijab, but in addition as a lady of color with a strict ‘no handshake’ coverage at work. I’ve been in various initiatives and conferences the place I used to be actually the one feminine in the staff. Though difficult at instances, I’ve come to admire this as a type of da’wah. I’ve met many individuals who’ve by no means had expertise working with a Muslim lady earlier than and I’ve taught many high executives the right etiquette of greeting a Muslim feminine. Which brings me to some of the stunning experiences of not simply my profession, but in addition my life.

After I obtained my very first actual job out of school at a consulting agency, I used to be actually scared of getting to refuse to shake fingers with male colleagues. The primary day, I needed to in all probability shake fingers with about 30 males. The coaching was two weeks lengthy and was meant to organize us for working with actual purchasers. The coaching was intense – we needed to put together displays, roleplay with Companions of the agency and every now and then even the CEO would pop by to check-in on us. As an introvert, I used to be initially not having fun with this in any respect!

Fortunately, I used to be ready to make use of the “Privateness Room” (an empty room employees might use to meditate or nurse) within the constructing to take my day by day prayer breaks. This was very essential for me as I might use these moments to simply pour my coronary heart out to Allah and ask him for power. In the direction of the top of the brutal two-week lengthy coaching, it was time for my staff to do a closing presentation in entrance of the Companions and I used to be dreading it! On high of that, a part of the roleplay concerned going as much as introduce ourselves and naturally, that meant shaking fingers. I nonetheless bear in mind taking my prayer break proper earlier than the presentation and making dua throughout my sujud for power. I don’t know if it was angels or simply me pondering out loud…however I bear in mind listening to one thing like this:

“Whoever you’re scared to offend…the Accomplice…the Firm…or simply the entire monetary business…Allah is above all of that. You shouldn’t worry them greater than Allah and you probably have Allah in your facet, there’s completely nobody that may defeat you.”

So I went again into the coaching feeling brave, assured, and robust. When it got here to our flip for the group presentation, I went up in entrance of everybody and when the Accomplice tried to shake my hand I mentioned: “I’m so sorry, I don’t shake fingers because of non secular causes.” He was clearly confused and didn’t know what to do. I put I hand over my coronary heart and gestured for him to do the identical, which he did.

The following day at coaching, whereas I used to be working with my group on the subsequent coaching project, the HR supervisor got here in with one of many coaching instructors and requested me to step out for a personal dialog. As I used to be strolling with them to the assembly room, I was internally freaking out! However because it seems, they needed to apologise. I nonetheless bear in mind her phrases and it went one thing like this: “Amina, we wouldn’t have employed you if we didn’t assume you have been good for our agency. You will have a lot to supply and your various background is one thing we’re proud to current to our purchasers. We need to be sure you are 100% snug and that nobody makes you do something you aren’t snug with”. Later that day, I noticed that very same Accomplice within the espresso room, and he put his hand on his coronary heart and thanked me for educating him find out how to greet the subsequent Muslim lady he meets.

My desk at one in every of our consumer websites

As a advisor, I’ve needed to transfer from one consumer to a different. That is difficult as a result of I’d get used to the supervisor, the techniques and the individuals, however then be positioned on the subsequent consumer website which might be utterly completely different. I typically must do the whole lot another time (like discovering a prayer room, a personal toilet to do wudu’ in, and even explaining the ‘no handshake’ coverage). However I realised that it was a chance for me to provide dawah to a brand new group of individuals each time I used to be positioned on a brand new challenge. I’m not saying I by no means needed to face some form of discrimination for my non secular background, however the quantity of help and positivity I obtained from individuals of all faiths all the time drowned out the negatives. To me, that is what actual America is all about – there isn’t a denying that there’s hate on the market, however the abundance of affection will all the time outweigh it.

Goofing round with colleagues at our vacation social gathering

So in case you are studying this, make sure you add New York to your halal journey bucket checklist! There’s actually no place like New York. I hope that by sharing about my life right here, it has helped give perception into a number of the finest issues New York has to supply and take away any fears you could have about visiting this glorious metropolis. 

Amina will be discovered on Instagram at @bengalibelle01

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