THE BRONX, New York – As a fourth-year medical student who has worn hijab since the eighth grade, Yssra Soliman was afraid patients would refuse her care because of her dress and religion.
But just when she thought her fears would be realized, she was surprised.
“People would try to speak to me in Spanish, people ask if I’m Jewish – people really don’t know what my background is,” Soliman, a student at the Einstein College of Medicine, told News 12.
“People who are also Muslim are thrown off by what country my family is from.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Yet, Soliman admitted it has not been an easy choice in all days.
“Wearing it hasn’t always been easy because of how it is sometimes perceived in the world. I have even questioned why I wear it,” she wrote on her blog.
“But beyond the obligation to modesty, my wearing hijab is a rejection of the idea of judging someone on appearance before understanding that person’s character and mind. It is a choice that I make every day.
“My hijab is a way of saying that, as a woman, you can unapologetically be whoever you want to be,” she added.
Sometimes, it brought big surprises as well.
“A patient’s mom stopped me and she was Hasidic Jewish and said, I’m so proud of you as a Jewish girl working so hard to become a doctor,” she told News 12.
“I had to tell her I’m not Jewish, I’m Muslim and my parents emigrated from Egypt. She just laughed and said…I’m still really proud of you.”