I have always been intrigued by the stories of others, including those who travel in a way that inspires others to do so. Like, this Nigerian girl who travels despite the visa challenges, this mother who carries her baby along with her while traveling or this brave young man who travels the world in a wheelchair, there’s so much inspiration out there.
You may be thinking, “how is travel such a big deal or an act to conquer?”. Well, travel shows bravery, strength and ultimately freedom. It transcends beyond just a movement from one place to another.
When I came across Kareemah of hijabiglobetrotter.com, I knew I had to speak with her. She is very passionate about representing the underrepresented and motivating people to travel, including visible Muslims.
For me, this was not the most comfortable topic to dive into. Topics like religion are quite sensitive but the reality is, this is 2017 and I hate to admit that Islamophobia is a real thing and it may hinder some people from venturing out of their comfort zone for fear of the unknown. And so, I had to do it, I had to reach out to Kareemah to share her views and I am glad she obliged. Some things have got to be spoken about to create further awareness and to help people know that they are not alone.
So, here we have it. Kareemah sharing graciously, her insights and what it is like traveling the world being visibly muslim, in her case, wearing the hijab. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by it, just like I am.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello, my name is Kareemah. I’m a Nigerian American living in Louisiana.
What countries have you visited and which has been your favorite so far, and why?
In the last 2 years I’ve visited Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Austria, and Turkey. My favorite country was Morocco mostly because it was exciting to be in Africa and because I felt a deep connection to the country as a Muslim.
Can you tell us some of the weirdest assumptions or questions that you have been asked about the hijab, especially while traveling?
Someone once asked me if I slept with my hijab on.
What are some of the things people may not know about traveling wearing a hijab?
You might get frequent checks by the TSA. The hijab is a great icebreaker for people who have limited knowledge about Islam. I’ve made friends with people who had never seen a Muslim outside of the news. I was glad they could ask a real person who has grown up with the religion.
TSA: TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (I.E THIS IS A US AGENCY IN CHARGE OF SCREENING OF THOSE WHO TRAVEL TO AND FROM THE UNITED STATES.)
Does your hijab affect your choice of travel or going to certain places? How open are you when you travel?
The hijab is an Islamic symbol, so when I travel I research on how open people are to Muslims in whatever country I plan on visiting. But then again Islam is not the most popular religion in many countries these days. I try to stay cautious and vigilant during my travels abroad and at home.
What are some things that will make your travels easier, as a woman wearing a hijab?
Muslims often face the challenge of getting extra check ups and even deep interrogations at the airport whenever they have an apparent association to the religion. I look forward to the day where assumptions wouldn’t be made based on appearance or beliefs.
Any advice to Muslims who want to travel?
My advice to Muslims whose dream is to travel is to just do it. Don’t let fear from the media, society or family stop you. Before you pursue your dream, do some extensive research, consult people who have taken similar path, surround yourself with likeminded people, and then create a financial plan. I would be releasing a step by step guide to achieving your travel goal.