Profiles in Faith: Maham Khan
Muslim student explores modesty and hope at CMU
Maham Khan believes displaying her religion proudly in the face of backlash is an essential part of any young Muslim’s search for truth.
That’s why she began wearing a hijab when she turned 18. Khan, a Midland sophomore, was born into her faith. She was not forced to practice it, but her parents made Islam accessible and desirable.
“They brought it to me in a way that was positive and allowed me to fall in love with it on my own,” she said. “That’s how I knew it was right for me.”
Khan grew in her faith as she got older, but did not consider wearing a hijab —the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women who want to display their devotion to Islam. Today, Khan said she wears her hijab to explore the concept of modesty.
It also serves as a reminder for her to stay focused on a righteous path.
For Halima Abdi, being Muslim and a refugee in America means living in two worlds. It means balancing cultural adaptation and tradition.
“When you do start wearing it, it’s because you’ve built a strong foundation in your faith and Islam,” Khan said. “You do the daily prayers. You’re seeking truth. It doesn’t mean you’re automatically this perfect Muslim. That’s something you work toward.”
Initially, Khan was wary of what people might say if she donned the head scarf. Eventually, Khan took a leap of faith while attending her last year at Dow High School, and was greeted with support. Some of the guys in her high school even stopped to tell her how good she looked with it on.
That was in Midland. In Mount Pleasant, her experience has been different.
A few days after President Donald Trump was elected in November, a friend of Khan’s was harassed by a group of men in a passing car. They yelled, “go back to your country,” and “Donald Trump is president now,” at the international student.
Khan remembers feeling scared and angry after her friend confided the harassment to her. When she thinks about a time when her Muslim faith was challenged, she points to this moment, and calls it “a crisis of hope.”
“Even thinking about it now makes me emotional,” Khan said between tears. “You hear about this happening all over the country and it happened here on campus to my good friend.”
Months later, Trump signed an immigration ban that targeted seven Muslim majority nations. The Muslim Student Association, where Khan serves as events coordinator, organized a protest that drew more than 500 people.
Khan’s faith in her community in Mount Pleasant was restored that day. It also showed her the value of being fearless and to never stop being proud of her faith and showing it proudly by wearing a hijab.