Jazib Farooqui Interview

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Main contributors
Prateek Singh; Jazib Farooqui; Ji-Yeon Yuh
Prateek Singh (Born May 24 1996), a Northwestern student majoring in Religious Studies and participating in the Winter 2015 class "Oral Histories and Migration" interviews Jazib Farooqui (Born May 24 1996). Jazib Farooqui is a male child of Pakistani Muslim immigrants. Freshman Chemistry major at UIC. Very involved with the Muslim Students' Association at UIC.


>> JAZIB: Okay.

>> PRATEEK: Wonderful, okay. So could you just uhh... Tell me your name, how old you are, where you're from?

>> JAZIB: Umm, my name is Jazib Farooqui. I'm 18 years old. I'm from Chicago, Illinois - Hoffman Estates. My nationality is Pakistani. 

>> PRATEEK: Uhh, wonderful. And I am the interviewer. Umm. My name is Prateek Singh. I'm 18 years old. I'm from Barrington, Illinois. And I'll be conducting this interview. Umm. So, Jazib, could you just tell me a little bit about what it was like growing up in the suburbs in Hoffman Estates and just a little bit about like your childhood?

>> JAZIB: Umm. Growing up- I grew up in a nice area. It was like a normal childhood and I played outside with my friends. Umm, went to school in kindergarten and just about everything. Nothing really different. The only thing that was different was that we just prayed 5 times a day. 

>> PRATEEK: [laughter]

>> JAZIB: [laughter] ...or at least I tried too.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. Umm. So when you say that like that was different did you I guess, like, growing up during your childhood you said that it was pretty normal, but did you ever feel a little different because of your like religious identity?

>> JAZIB: Not necessarily. I just. I just did it because my mom told me to do it and I didn't really know why at first.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So, umm, did you like grow up going to like temple or mosque a lot or..?

>> JAZIB: Not necessarily, a lot. Both my parents worked umm when I was growing up. So I- well my mom got a job when I went to kindergarten. So she was with me from when I was born to preschool. And then umm from there I didn't really go to the mosque as much. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm.

>> JAZIB: Any time we ever went was if I was off of school on fridays and my parents were off. Then my dad would take me.

>> PRATEEK: Okay. Sure. So would you say despite not going to mosque that often that like religion is a still a big part of your life?

>> JAZIB: Religion is a still a big part of my life?

>> PRATEEK: Well would you say like despite not attending mosque that often that religion was a big part of your life, or wasn't as much?

>> JAZIB: I still think it was, umm, because when I got to middle school my mom put me in a Qur'an class so I had a Qur'an teacher who taught me how to read the Qur'an every Mondays and Tuesdays- 

>> PRATEEK: Sure.

>> JAZIB: ...at least an hour. 

>> PRATEEK: So like did you.. were you opposed to going at all? Or was it something that you saw the value in, yourself?

>> JAZIB: No, I actually did want to go to it because growing up as a Muslim, my mom would tell me to read it, read the namaz, or read prayers, everyday. And do Islamic things, right? But I wasn't really sure why, so going to these classes I would steadily learn how.. or why I was doing this. 
>> PRATEEK: Sure. Umm. Hmm. Okay. So would you say like.. how was your.. could you just talk about your like relationship with your parents a little bit growing up? Like and how that looked?

>> JAZIB: Umm. I think my relationship with my parents growing up was... it was a, a good relationship. Umm, they mostly focused on school, umm, more than anything else so they always asked me about school, which- I didn't talk to them though and they did their own stuff I kind of just came home from school, did my homework, played video games, or played outside with my friends. Uhh. Only time I ever really got to talk to them was during dinners. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. so would you say that like your relationship with your parents was a bit more formal or..? Could you just expand on not talking to them as much?

>> JAZIB: Yeah, so it was still definitely formal. I love talking to them and everything, but whenever I did talk to them it was about school. Uhh. Basically, I didn't think too much of it. Umm. I didn't. I assumed that they were just busy and tired with work and stuff. So I just let them be and rest up or whatever. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. And do you have any siblings?

>> JAZIB: I do. I have two older sisters. 

>> PRATEEK: Umm. And could you just talk about your relationship with them?

>> JAZIB: Umm. My relationship with them... It's okay. Umm. Again, I don't talk to them much, either. Umm. They're really close in age, so they always talk to each other. They have their own friends. Umm. Well they have similar friends, and they're much older than me so, I don't really see them as often, anymore. Uhh. 'Cause they're out doing their own thing too. And I'm busy with school still, so. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. Could well could you talk about your relationship with them growing up and when you were all still in the same house?

>> JAZIB: Yeah, so. Even. Even growing up, uhh. They always hung out with each other, inside. And I would always go outside and play. Umm. I remember I'd come home from school. I'd do homework for an hour or so. And then I'd go outside from like 5pm, come back at 8. Then eat dinner and go to sleep.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: So I didn't really get to talk to them as much either. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So would you say that your parents kind of had a hands-off parenting style, or...?

>> JAZIB: They were still definitely, definitely hands on because they're really strict with what they allow me to do and everything. Like I wasn't allowed to sleep over ever or uhh wasn't allowed to have anyone sleep over at our house, either. Just things like that. They're still really strict. But they.. Yeah. 

>> PRATEEK: Umm. Yeah, sure. So did you ever feel like a little bit resentful or wonder why they were like so strict about stuff like a normal kid thing like sleeping over?

>> JAZIB: Umm. I always did wonder why, but I never asked why. I just knew that they were really against it.. Until I did ask why, and my dad just had bad experiences with sleep overs before. And he didn't want me to go through that, which I understand, but, I think he needs to realize that something like that isn't common.. [chuckle]

>> PRATEEK: Umm. Yeah, sure. So would you say like that your family dynamic growing up was.. How would you characterize your family dynamic growing up? 

>> JAZIB: Umm. 

>> PRATEEK: Like how would you umm... How would you describe it growing up in like a couple words, I suppose? 

>> JAZIB: Umm. 

>> PRATEEK: In a sentence or two. 

>> JAZIB: Growing up with them, I think. It taught me a lot.

>> PRATEEK: Sure.

>> JAZIB: Uhh. It taught me how to be more independant and more and it taught me how to be more responsible about stuff too. Which I really do appreciate. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay. Yeah, sure. Umm. So... Let's switch gears a little bit here. Umm. And go back to something we were talking about a little earlier. Umm. Could you just uhh talk a little bit about umm the development of your faith? Because you said at first like before you went to Qur'an school you just like kind of followed what your parents told you and what- you weren't exactly sure why and you were excited to go in middle school to Qur'an school to learn about the whys of what you were doing. 

>> JAZIB: Yeah, so. Umm. Basically, my mom put me in a Qur'an class that taught me how to read the Qur'an in arabic. Umm. From 6th grade and I did it all the way until senior year of high school. Umm I finished the Qur'an twice and as I was reading I made sure I had good pronunciation but I was also on the side umm my teacher gave me a book that gave me like the English translation as well, too. So unfortunately I haven't gotten a chance to read all of it, but I did read some of the verses from the Qur'an in English. Umm so I did learn that. I also learned the reasons why we pray 5 times a day. I also learned umm the reason why we fast during ramadan, and all the other reasons for our holidays and stuff. Like that too. Umm. Throughout. Throughout. Or at least 'till now umm. I never really practiced my faith as much. only mostly when I went to Qur'an class on Mondays and Tuesdays is when I would pray at least 1 prayer out of the 5 and read the Qur'an. Umm the reason why is because going to a public school there weren't really many Muslims there either. Maybe. Maybe 4 or 5 max including me. Umm and they didn't- I never really saw them practicing their faith, either. So I didn't think it was a huge deal. But now, being at UIC, I'm surrounded a huge body of Muslim people. Umm, who do practice their faith, and seeing that has made me more faithful and making me want to practice more as well, too. 

>> PRATEEK: Hmm, that's interesting. So would you say like growing up in.. in like the area that you did-not surrounded by many Muslims- was kind of difficult for you? Would you say like it made you kind of feel weird about umm trying to practice your faith? Like did you ever, did you ever have moments where you perhaps wanted to be more in touch with your faith but because there weren't many people surrounding you, you didn't feel okay doing that?

>> JAZIB: Not necessarily. Personally, I don't really mind what other people think about me. As long as that I'm happy or at least I can make the other people around me happy that I care about. But as far as practicing my faith or not practicing my faith, I don't think the people around me had.. Well growing up in a non-Muslim area.. Umm. Didn't really affect my behaviors. I just didn't think it was a huge deal, until I actually learned the reasons of why I should do it. 

>> PRATEEK: So could you just expand on like going through Qur'an class and like learning about these reasons? Like did you ever have like doubts or questions when you were learning about this stuff or did it kind of all make sense to you when you were going through it?

>> JAZIB: Umm... Well everyday, every time I went to Qur'an class what we would do is we would read the Qur'an for about 45 minutes, and then we would read over one of the verse, a shorter verse of the Qur'an- to memorize. What you're supposed to do with those verses, is you're supposed to say them in prayer, too. So that's what we would do. And the book that we would use to memorize them had the English translation as well. As far as doubting my religion, I can honestly say that I don't ever recall doubting my religion at all. I was always faithful. As far as following every practices that we're supposed to, I can say that did not follow. At least not all of them. I followed most of them, but not all of them. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. Umm. So would you say, overall, your experience going to Qur'an class like day in and day out- because it was a pretty regular thing every week- would you say that was overall like a positive experience?

>> JAZIB: I think so. It taught me a lot, because it, umm- Throughout the lessons that we would read the Qur'an, my teacher would have us stop and he would tell us story about Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him- he would just tell us stories about him, and the things that he did and how it affected the world, too.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. Umm.. So was this a time of like growth in your faith for you and did you after going through these classes did you become more comfortable with practicing areas of your faith that you didn't practice earlier? 

>> JAZIB: I did. Throughout the time I was there, I had these periods of where I would become very, very religious, and I would do prayer 5 times a day. Right when I'd come home from school, I would pray. And then I'd pray the other prayers as well, too. I would wake up before sunrise, pray. Everyday before school as well. Even during the summer I would do it. But occasionally, I would get lazy again and stop doing that again. Umm. I can say the most consistent times though, I do pray every Friday, no matter what though. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay. Yeah, sure. Umm. So could you just talk a little bit about umm what going through high school like in a public, predominantly white area? 

>> JAZIB: Umm so.. The actual high school experience in itself wasn't difficult, because everyone was familiar with Islam and everything-at least for the most part.

>> PRATEEK: Would you say that you you felt that most of the people around you were actually familiar with Islam, where you went to high school?

>> JAZIB: I feel like they knew the religion but they didn't know what we were supposed to do and everything with it. Like they......... Unfortunately, and I don't like to say this, but after 9/11 everyone knew what a Muslim was.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure.

>> JAZIB: Uhh.. As far as what their thoughts of what a Muslim was, I do not know. Umm. But... Going back to your other question though- was it hard to practice my faith in high school?

>> PRATEEK: No, just what just could you just tell me a bit about what high school was like just aside from faith or anything- unless that factors in heavily- just like what high school was like for you?

>> JAZIB: I feel like high school was a good time of my life. I was like a normal teenager. I went to.. I went to like football games, basketball games, hung out with friends, things like that. Didn't do anything out of the ordinary. I was pretty much, as one would say, normal. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. Umm. And you like truly felt that way? Just like another normal kid?

>> JAZIB: Mhm. Yes. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay, sure. Umm. So were there, were there any times of high school that were like difficult for you at all? Or anything like that?

>> JAZIB: Umm...

>> PRATEEK: Because I think it's a pretty transitional period with a lot of growth. Do you feel like you... grew at all during this time or..?

>> JAZIB: Maybe.. Maybe a little.. Umm..  A little. Umm... Honestly, I don't think.. Not a whole lot. At least not until college. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay, sure. Umm... So would you say like when you when you hung out with friends like how did you go about making your friends and like what was what was hanging out with your friends like?

>> JAZIB: As far as making.. uhh. Making my uhh.. how I made my friends.. I made my friends throughout elementary school. So those kids would literally just come from elementary school all the way to high school with me. So.. Umm. And then whoever they made friends with I made friends with as well too. So I had a solid friend group. As far as hanging out with them.. All we did was..  We literally would watch TV, or play video games, or even just play basketball. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. 

>> JAZIB: We didn't do anything out of the ordinary from there. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay, sure. So you said, you touched a little bit on like growth during college. Can you just talk about that a little bit?

>> JAZIB: Yeah, so.. 

>> PRATEEK: 'Cause you're at UIC now. 

>> JAZIB: Mhm. So... Uhh. Being at UIC, umm. The first friends I... Or even during orientation. My orientation group had one other Muslim guy in my group. Uhh, I befriended him and he went to an all-Islamic school. So the classrooms were separated boys.. boys on one side of the school and girls on the other side of the school. Umm. So he... he kind of talked to me about his school experience and stuff like that. And then-

>> PRATEEK: Was that weird hearing about that sort of experience for you?

>> JAZIB: Not necessarily, just because.. just because even when we pray we are separated from gender boys in front and girls in the back. So I was kind of used to it. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay. 

>> JAZIB: And I understood why and what the whole point of it was too. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay.

>> JAZIB: But going from there, we picked all of our same classes together first semester. And since he went to an all-Islamic school, a lot of other Muslims kids from that school came to UIC, too. So they were all friends, and I kind of just joined that group. A solid Muslim group. And from there we joined what's called the MSA here- Muslim Student Association. And then from there we befriended, not only underclassmen, but as well as the upperclassman as well, too. And we have this thing called the MSA lounge where we would pray on the prayers they have as well too. So seeing other people pray would make me be like, “Oh, I should definitely do this too” 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. would you say that you're more actively involved in like Islamic community now than you ever were growing up?

>> JAZIB: Yeah, just because even growing up my parents were never in touch with their Islamic community over there. In the neighborhood I grew up in there were quite a few Islamic families there- Muslim families there. We, we knew them. But I never hung out with them. I always hung out with my white friends, or Asian friends, or whatever. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So would you say like- do you know any reasonings why your parents didn't engage in in Muslim community? Because it seems like they were still very faithful. 

>> JAZIB: Umm. Back then, I wasn't too sure why. But today, I think I have an idea of why. I think they're just a little scared. Umm. The reason why is because, after 9/11 Muslims were stamped with the name of terrorist, so I think they wanted to keep the idea of them being being Muslim on the down low. They didn't want to be involved in huge Islamic events. Not necessarily Islamic events, but huge parties or something. Things like that. Especially even now, too. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So would you say like- I know that you and I were both quite young when, when like the 9/11 tragedy happened. But would you say that had like uhh a deep like profound effect on the way that like maybe not you but your parents like started living their lives?

>> JAZIB: I would think so. I think they're a little bit more timid. Actually a lot more timid, especially now, of what they did and what they allow us to do as well too. So there's that. Like umm even today.. I grew out my beard.. It wasn't necessarily too long, but my parents felt like I looked like I looked too Islamic, or something. And they didn't want me to get into any trouble because they felt like that I would get into some sort of trouble, or something.

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So would...

>> JAZIB: Like someone would target me.

>> PRATEEK: So would you say that you feel that sort of like social pressure just like the pressure of your identity umm as a result of like the the view that a lot of westerners have of Islam do you feel like any anxiety about your identity in that way?

>> JAZIB: Not necessarily. With the things that are going on now, I feel like I have not a lot of pressure. But as far as like, I should be able to push my religion a little bit more and show that.. not push it on other people, but show that what Islam is really about and how we're being depicted wrongly. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So is that like is that something that you feel strongly about like being depicted wrongly, 'cause I think that Islam feels that more than any other religion. 

>> JAZIB: I do. Just because especially with all of the events that happened- like the Chapel Hill shooting, and then literally like a week later an Islamic institute in Texas was burned down too, as well, for no reason. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah... So would you say like that you find on average most people that you engage with to be pretty understanding of your religion or do you.. or would you say like on average you feel like you have to prove that Islam is is what you know it to be?

>> JAZIB: Unfortunately, I've only been talking to Muslims here at UIC. So they have a pretty good understanding of what it's like already.

>> PRATEEK: [chuckle]

>> JAZIB: But as far as other people here, I do have a few friends who aren't Muslim, but they're willing to learn what it's about, too. So I do appreciate that. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So could you just talk a little bit more about your friend group here? Because it seems like the vast majority of your friends here are like South Asian like Pakistani Muslims. So could you just talk a little bit about that?

>> JAZIB: Yeah. so, most again most of my friends are Muslim. We all have the same similar interests such as like basketball, and just hanging out, playing video games like 2k or something. But they also really really do care about their religion. We have group chats and everything. So we talk about these sort of issues too. As far as like the Chapel Hill shooting, we did talk about it. We said that it was wrong. As far as this community goes, we had to show that whatever these terrorist groups are doing, aren't all muslims that are doing it as well, too. It's only a small majority (minority). But that's how every religion is too. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: No matter what religion you look at every religion has a small little group that do terrorist activities. So we talk about things like that too, on a more serious note. But we also joke around and stuff, and have fun and stuff. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. Would you say that you feel more comfortable being surrounded by like a friend group that is- all like shares a similar identity?

>> JAZIB: As far as feeling more comfortable as in helping me practice more-my religion-I do. But I also do like to learn about other religions and other peoples’ culture 'cause I feel like if you learn that, you become less ignorant and more understanding of what other people think, too.

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So do, do you- I guess do you feel weird at all only hanging out with people of a similar identity, or do you not think of that as a problem?

>> JAZIB: I don't think of that as a problem. Anyone can go out and make friends, but I don't see it as a problem at all. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay, yeah sure... Umm.. Interesting. So, so how would you.. how would you say your umm first uhh first semester and a little bit of college have been so far, overall? Just because college is a huge transition for people.

>> JAZIB: Academically, or...?

>> PRATEEK: Just in general.

>> JAZIB: Just in general.. Well.. I do commute, so the transition isn't as big as I thought it was going to be. I.. Instead of having it be a 30 minute bus ride, it's an hour train ride now. And I go to school. Have lunch with my friends, still. And then I come back home. As far as transition, I don't think it was a huge deal. Classes are going to be classes. You're going to do homework, and projects, and things like that. If I was living down here I think it would be a little bit more different. Just because sometimes what the MSA does, is they have activities at night. Where we would actually try to strengthen the brotherhood, too, of our group. So we're all caring of each other as well, too. So things like. Like bake sales that we had today, even. Or what we call is an “MSA Bowl”, where we do a series of events- underclassman versus upperclassman.

>> PRATEEK: Okay, sure. So could you just talk a little bit about commuting, and like whether that has been difficult for you or like reasons why and stuff like that? 

>> JAZIB: The only thing- I don't really mind the commute that much, it's just the fact that it's so far, and having to wake up at 6:30 for a 9:00AM class is kind of a pain, too. I honestly- I sleep on the train, so I have another extra hour of sleep. And then I walk from Union to UIC.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: I feel like I'm always on a time schedule though. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure.

>> JAZIB: I'm never on my own time. 

>> PRATEEK: What is your.. What is your reason for commuting? Is it just financial, or is there something more to it?

>> JAZIB: Personally, I wanted to live down here my first year. But, my parents thought it would be a nice transition for me from high school to college, so they thought that I would focus more on school, which I have been. I've managed my time more wisely. Which.. I've been okay with. 

>> PRATEEK: Were you.. Were you ever kind of mad that your parents had you stay at home instead of living in the city your first year?

>> JAZIB: Yeah.. Occasionally. 'Cause basically with commuting and everything... They were... umm.. Yeah, I did get kind of angry just because whenever I get back from the train station or something, I would have to wait maybe 10 or 15 minutes sometimes for my mom to pick me up when I had work right after too. Or even waiting for my dad to get ready while I'm already ready and missing my train in the morning too. Which is also a pain because then I'm late to class. So that kind of also irritates me, too. And then he always says I have to wake up 10 minutes earlier, when I could just live down there and wake up 30 minutes before my class, or something. 

>> PRATEEK: So would you say like, the like kind of logistical like, being late stuff annoys you more or were you kind of mad that your parents, like, made you stay instead of letting you having the experience of living on your own for the first time?

>> JAZIB: I think right now it's mostly just the lateness. Because I feel bad for my professors, too. And then I also feel bad for my work as well, being late. As far as missing the first year experience, I am a little bit angry with that as well, but coming here, I realize most people do commute. Especially all my friends, except for one friend who lives in his apartment with his brother and some other friends there too. So.. There's that. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So it was something you were angry about but you understand more so now. Sure. Cool. Umm.. So I kind of wanna backtrack a little bit, and kind of switch gears again. Umm. It sounds like you seem to be pretty understanding of all of your parents sort of rules and regulations and their kind of strictness. Was there ever a time growing up where you were angry with them because they seemed to be more strict than other parents or..? And and how much do you think that their religion affected their decision making with you, if it all, if it did?

>> JAZIB: So... This is a fun story. Senior year of high school I was nominated for homecoming king. And as a normal teenager would be, they would be pretty excited to tell their parents too. But when I told my mom she said that was great, but, “drop out”. And I was really confused as to why. And she was.. said that if you were nominated for homecoming kid then you had to go to homecoming with a date, and as a teenager I didn't see a problem with that, but she did.... 


>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So had you.. Wait, had you never been to a dance with a date at all before senior year? Before you were nominated? 

>> JAZIB: Yes, I have not. Even homecoming senior year, I did not go with a date. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay.

>> JAZIB: Prom was the only time I did have a date. But my parents did not know of it. 

>> PRATEEK: [laughter] Really?

>> JAZIB: Yes. 

>> PRATEEK: So how did that go?

>> JAZIB: My sisters helped me buy.. well, my parents were really, really against prom. Except for my dad. He said he would let me go senior year. But they didn't give me any I guess financial aid to prep for prom. So I had to buy my own tux, buy my ticket, pay my sister back for buying my date's ticket. So there's that. And then, normally a normal parent would come and take pictures of their kids going to prom, my parents did not do that. So I was able to just take the car, pick up my date and go to whoever's house we went to for pictures and everything. And after prom you have that whole after-prom experience for the weekend, where you hang out with your friends all weekend. I didn't get to do that. I took my date home after prom, and I went home and went to sleep.

>> PRATEEK:So, so were you... Did stuff like that make you angry with your parents or or did you understand where they were coming from?

>> JAZIB: It kinda made me angry just because I wasn't able to get the full experience, again, with that. Even as far as sleeping over, I could understand that. But, like, I had some friends who went to Wisconsin the next day, just for like the day or the weekend or whatever. If anything, I would've I wish I would've gone for at least the day and then come home. I would've been completely fine with that. At least spend a day with them. 'Cause I missed out on a bunch of crazy stuff, or fun stories, or whatever. So, I was kind of irritated with that. But I got over it. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. How much would you say their, like, strict decision making with stuff like that was like just them being kind of strict parents versus either like East Asian or South Asian culture versus like Muslim culture?

>> JAZIB: I think it was more of the Islamic cultures. Just because technically, we're not supposed to.. I don't know how to describe it because I'm even I'm not too sure of it right now. My.. Growing up throughout elementary schoo,l I would play with two girls and one of my friends that was a guy the entire time. And then my parents were completely fine with it. And then if they ever saw me talking to a girl or even asking if I could go to a girl's house or something, they would get super angry with me or something. Things like that where I.. I had to get to a point where I had to start lying to them saying where I was going was somewhere else. The fact that I wasn't honest with them... did hurt me too. I felt bad. But, their reasoning I thought wasn't as great. I felt like they weren't as modernized as I wanted them to be. But I guess that's normal too, because they grew up in a Pakistani culture where the stuff that they're teaching us was normal for them. Whereas growing up here was completely different from what they learned.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So did you ever feel like you were kind of living like a double-life, and you were, like, weren't sure like about like being American- being like a normal American kid versus being like a obedient like Pakistani, Muslim son?

>> JAZIB: I think-not necessarily living a double life- I think I was kind of living them both pretty well at the same time, 'cause when I did hang out with my friends or hang out with my friends that were girls or something I was completely upfront with them. I told them things I can do and the things I cannot do. Such as like sleeping over, for example. I told them reasons why and then they were understanding too. They thought it was.. They didn't. They didn't understand it as much, but they realized like, okay, I'm not going to try to convince you or anything. Things like that. So I appreciated that. But, yeah I don't think I was living much of a double-life though. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So would you say like you felt like you had a pretty balanced American life as well as like a pretty balanced like Pakistani life? 

>> JAZIB: For the most part, I do. Just because going to a public school, again, taught me the American cultures, as well. And being able to even be going to prom and some of the homecoming dances was nice too. Even if I didn't have a date, which I didn't really mind as much. But again, it would've been nice too. But it's okay.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. So were your parents like pretty strict about no girls and anything like that and did that ever come up?

>> JAZIB: My mom was. I remember one time I was helping a friend ask a girl to homecoming or something, and they did it in my backyard. And my mom came home from work that day and like was looking for me, so she looked in the backyard and saw me with me, my friend, and the girl. And she saw the girl like touched my hand or something, and after, when they all left, I got the biggest lecture of my life about it, too. And she was like, "Why is that girl there?" or "What were you doing? What was going on?" So I had to explain the situation. She still didn't understand it. Still got the lecture. But, yeah. I think as. As I got older, and my sisters got older. They kind of found that like talking to boys and girls and stuff or things like that. Like my sisters talking to guys and I'm talking to girls was starting to be normal. Because even at like my graduation party or something, I did invite some of my friends that were girls over, too. And my parents met them all, too. And it went fine. So. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So were there ever times where you like maybe you wanted to like date a girl or something but you were like way too scared or anything like that? Did anything like that ever come up 'cause like..? 

>> JAZIB: Umm..

>> PRATEEK: 'Cause it seems as though.. It seems as though your parents were, were pretty strict but I think you just kind of went with it most of the time. Were there any times where you really tried to like rebel and like kind of..

>> JAZIB: Yeah..

>> PRATEEK: lie about things?

>> JAZIB: Yeah.. Umm.. I did.. Normal teenager boy.. You like girls and stuff. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. 

>> JAZIB: So, I did have crushes. But if I- I tried, I tried to get them to be my girlfriend or whatever most of the times, it didn't work out. 

>> JAZIB: Unfortunately.. But I did end up having a girlfriend senior year for a little bit. And then, but I was able to hide it from my parents. That was the only struggle. Because her parents were kind of strict as well, too. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure.

>> JAZIB: So we didn't really do much. We just hung out like we couldn't go to each other's houses or anything. We kind of just went to like the movies or like got Starbucks or something. It was still kind of formal. That's just my opinion. 

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So like.. It seems like you had to like kind of tell a lot of white lies-well, seemingly white lies- to your parents a lot. How was that? And how did that like affect you and your parents relationship, as just well as like the balance between respecting your parents and still trying to like live a normal teenage kid life? 

>> JAZIB: Well, I definitely felt bad lying to them and not being able to tell them the truth, because even even when I lied and something like big happened in my life or something I can't like go to them and tell them. Because then they'll be like, "Oh, wait. You said that you were doing this though" or something like that, you know? So.. I felt bad because I didn't, then I didn't have anything, or have anything to talk to them with either, so.. There was that. 

>> PRATEEK: Could just tell about something specific where you wanted to share an event with them, but then you realized that you had lied about the event, so you couldn't share it with them?

>> JAZIB: Let's see.. Umm... I guess you could do a recent event. It doesn't involve any girls or anything. But uhh. For the Chapel Hill shooting, Loyola did a vigil. On a Wednesday night. So, it was like around. It started at around like 6:30, 7:00. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, Northwestern had that too. 

>> JAZIB: Really?

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: Nice.. I had a calc exam that day, as well. I finished early, so I finished around 6:45. It was a two hour exam. So my parents knew it was a two hour exam. And then after, after the exam, I went with some friends to the vigil, down to Loyola. So we went to the downtown campus. And then we got Ghirardelli's afterwards. And I ended up missing my 8:40 train back home. So the next train I had to take was the 9:40 train. At that point I was like, "Wow. Why don't I just live down here?" But, I knew that wasn't an option right now. So I told my parents, "Hey, I'm coming home on the 9:40 train, missed my 8:40" They were like, "Why are you late?" or "Why'd you miss it?" or "How'd you miss it if you got done at 8:00. And I was like "Oh, I just got caught up with some stuff". So I couldn't tell them the truth even though it was for a good cause or something. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, so, so even something, 'cause that, that event is also specific to Islam and like kind of like Muslim pride like, you still.. Could you just tell me about like still feeling hesitant to tell them about that?

>> JAZIB: The fact that I had to have my dad drive all the way downtown to pick me up, I feel bad. Telling them that, that was the reason why I went. And with that shooting, my parents became much much more strict, especially about showing that we're Muslim as well. Like I said before, my beard was a lot longer, they didn't want that for- because that showed how much of a Muslim I am or whatever, things like that. But like we're being targeted. So the fact that a bunch of Muslims were in one area, they didn't feel comfortable with that. And I understand that. That's why I chose not to tell them. Even, even events with the MSA. My dad told me to try not to be a part of it as much either, because he didn't feel comfortable with me being in it, because again, he feels that Muslims are being targeted by just like Western society or whatever. And the event was like a like a bowling night at UIC. So we were on campus, still, inside. But he was like just try not to do that as much. Or things like that. 

>> PRATEEK: So do you think your parents would prefer you like being friends with with like other people or.. or are they still fine with like your friend group? 'Cause your friend group is, is almost all like South Asian Muslims, so like.. 

>> JAZIB: I think they're okay with it. Just because they see me praying more-5 times a day. And when I didn't, like in high school, my mom and dad even. My dad doesn't even pray that much everyday. But both of them were always telling me you need to start praying 5 times a day, start reading the Qur'an more. Things like that. But now that they see me with these Muslim friends of mine doing this stuff and they see me doing it, too. They think they're a good influence on me, too. So.. 

>> PRATEEK: So you're parents are like happy with your friends, but then they don't necessarily...

>> JAZIB: Want me to hang out with them too, as much, either. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. But.. So you would say though that like the, the noticeable influence that they have is making it better and easier for you to hang out with them?

>> JAZIB: Mhm

>> PRATEEK: Sure. 

>> JAZIB: Not only that. It's just that they don't want them to hang out with them as much either, is because they feel that family is the most important. And.. No matter what. Growing up, they had a bunch of friends, too. But as time went on, as I grew older, I realized that they didn't start talking to their friends as much anymore. Or they'd talk to them maybe like once a month or something like that. So.. But we would always go to our cousins' house, things like that. And I think that what they kind of want us to do as well. But for me, not being super.. super close with my parents or my sisters or something, I only hung out with my friends so I consider my friends really close. So that's something I just can't do. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. Hmm. You would still say though, you would still say though that and I and I asked this a bit earlier but like your parents seem to like have this like battle between like trying not to like show their, their "Muslim-ness" I suppose, but still wanting to be as faithful as possible. Does that seem contradictory to you at all, or like how do you how do you feel about like that,

>> JAZIB: That

>> PRATEEK: sort of? 

>> JAZIB: I think it's very.... I think it's really dumb, actually. 

>> PRATEEK: Okay, yeah. Could you talk about that?

>> JAZIB: Yeah, 'cause what's the point of me being super pious or something, and then not being able to show it or things like that? Like they want me to practice my religion but not be proud of it. I just don't understand why. I think just that in general is really dumb. 'Cause I understand that you feel that Muslims are being targeted and stuff, but as far as the ISIS crisis, or ISIS thing going on, there was a kid from Bolingbrook, who is in jail right now for being part of ISIS or something, or was framed for it or something like that. Or the Chapel Hill shooting
or the Islamic foundation thing going down in Texas. But with those with those things going I feel that you should show your religion more. Show that what your religion's about. How we're different from those terrorist groups and things like that, Al Qaeda and ISIS and stuff, and how it's only a small majority (minority) of a group of people that are doing it not the whole community, as a whole. And instead of sitting back.. err, sitting back and not doing anything, I feel that we should do the exact opposite and do it. That's why I'm just confused as to why they want me to practice my religion but not be proud of it and just say something about it. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm. Sure. So I feel like what comes to mind for me right away is like one of the one of the five pillars of Islam is praying 5 times a day, right? 

>> JAZIB: Mhm.

>> PRATEEK: So.. If, if it came down to you having to either like pray in public let's say and do it 5 times a day or not pray and then not be publicly showing it, what do you think like their response would be and what do you think your response would be?

>> JAZIB: After coming to UIC and seeing, and wanting to pray more, 5 times a day. I have been doing it publicly now. Even... If I have to pray, I have to pray. I will do it. No matter what. Whether it be the MSA lounge that I was talking about earlier, it's actually called the Montgomery lounge, it's where more Muslims hang out, boys on one side girls on the other 'cause, yeah. That's normally where we pray though.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: And then go in the corner over there. And then if I'm even in the library I'll go to a corner in the library. Literally go right down over there (he points) and just pray.

>> PRATEEK: Sure.

>> JAZIB: If I need to. Even at work, too. If I'm not with a customer and I need to pray, or I haven't prayed yet, I'll go up to my manager or supervisor, let them know, "Hey, I need to go pray" and they understand and they let me take a room in the back or something, and I can just pray there. So, for me, praying in public is showing my religion. I'm not afraid. For my parents, they would try to come home and do it. 'Cause I remember maybe like a week ago or so, my mom picked me up from the train station, and she was like, "Hey, remember when this was Maghrib time, so the 4th prayer. And I remember I had to come home first, pray, and then come pick you up, and then come back" And I was like, "Well, you could've just done it at work or something" But I didn't say that, but that was kind of what I was thinking in my mind. Why are you rushing everything all at once? Why do you have to go home and do it, you know? So, I don't know.. She might pray in public. Sometimes she prays in the car. Like if we're out and we're not going to be home for a while, she'll pray in the car sometimes. But she won't go outside of the building or anything. I don't think she will. Or at least I've never seen her.

>> PRATEEK: So how do you think your parents would feel about you not having a problem with praying in public as you've said? Like how do you- if they saw you praying in public, like you said that you do, how do you think that they would react or feel?

>> JAZIB: I don't think they would mind as much. Because wherever I pray in public, I try to find like a quiet space, 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: where not many people go to. So, technically I'm not publicly displaying. But, I will.. But, it's still an open area, too. Where people can walk by. When you're praying you look down, but you still have your peripheral vision, too. So I.. like I see people walk by, and they see me and they'll turn around or something and go the other way. But I do tell my parents, I do pray at work. And they say that's good, so...

>> PRATEEK: Huh. That's interesting... 

>> JAZIB: Yeah.

>> PRATEEK: So how would you say like- you talked a lot about like being more in touch with your faith as you've come to UIC. Has that had... Has that had any noticeable effects on you? Like how have you felt, personally as a result of- 

>> JAZIB: Personally..

>> PRATEEK: ...practicing more, and more openly, and being in community like, like how, how has that felt for you?

>> JAZIB: I felt a lot better about myself. Especially, especially now. Just because, during like winter break I was going through a pretty dark time in my life. Pretty, pretty low. And I didn't really have anyone to talk to about. So I kinda just turned to God. And prayed my prayers and everything. And I did feel better, too. Not necessarily (indistinct), but it didn't come from me, for the most part. So, yeah.

>> PRATEEK: So you would say like you're pretty thankful for..

>> JAZIB: Yeah.

>> PRATEEK: for getting more in touch as you've been here?

>> JAZIB: Mhm. 

>> PRATEEK: And how would you say like the community based in Islam has felt?

>> JAZIB: Recently, I feel like they felt hurt. I have, I have a friend here who is also Muslim. He was really, really proud to be an American and everything, but after all the recent events towards Islam, and things like that, he's been kinda disappointed. He feels that the commun-the Islamic community should speak up more about what's going on, and how it needs to stop, things like that.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So you've been referencing like the Chapel Hill shootings and other recent events, like could you tell me a bit about your personal reactions to when you like found that news out?

>> JAZIB: At first... I was...

>> PRATEEK: And only share as much as you feel comfortable.

>> JAZIB: Yeah. ...At first I didn't really hear about it. I honestly saw it on someone's Snapchat story. So, from there, I did- my friends talked about it, too. And then from there, I learned a lot. And then, I thought it was just like a.. just like, just like another shooting, or something. And then when I realized that they were Muslim and then how we have a prayer at our school, too really quickly for them, and how distraught the community felt, too, I was kind of like, "Oh, this is actually a huge, huge deal" And how it's like hate crimes. And then as far as like the media puts its too, how they're giving him some psychological disease, or something, or just trying to cover it up, or not even like talk about it at all. I thought that was kind of shocking as well, too. And it made me actually angry. And instead of like talking about the victims, or something, they kind of just focused, "Oh, this man had this disease, that's why he did it, not because of Islam" when a week later, an Islamic institute burns down. So, you're here to tell me that's not a hate crime? 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So what do you, what do you do with that? What do you do with that like anger? 

>> JAZIB: Well, I have different ways to release anger. Like I play videogames, or I play basketball or whatever. But with that, I think it's like a test to see how, not only me, but other Muslims react. We- again, me and my friends talk about this kind of stuff, too. We've all decided that we need to show that Islam is not an angry religion, or a hateful religion, or anything like that, or a violent religion. Instead, we're more peaceful, and loving too, and caring about others and other religions, too. And we just need to show other people that, as well. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. 

>> JAZIB: We just need to figure out ways of how to do that.. without going over boundaries, or whatever.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. so what sort of umm, what sort of like- does MSA do any outreach events, like what sort of- 'cause you said you're talking about ways to show that your religion-what your religion really is. How do you-how does MSA and you like go about that?

>> JAZIB: So, umm we have a couple of different ways. First, we go about with social media. We have a UIC MSA page on Facebook. We also have a UIC MSA Snapchat. The nice thing about the Snapchat, that the Facebook group doesn't do, is that it always gives us updates, no matter what, 'cause everyone constantly checks their Snapchats, no matter what. Whether it be stories or people sending you snaps. MSA puts up stories, saying of events that are going on. So in recent events, we have night classes here. Unfortunately, I haven't attended one, but what the night classes do, is they talk about Islam, and whoever wants to come can come and literally, it's like a free class. We have what we call an imam- so like an Islamic priest or whatever.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah. 

>> JAZIB: Will come or a student will come or something like that, and just talk about Islam, and the history behind it, and stuff like that. Also every year we have this thing called IAW, which is actually coming up. It's first week of March, it's Islamic Awareness Week, where we do other events and have like scholars talk about Islam as well, too. There's also-there's a bunch of other events, too. Like there's this other event called ICNA, which is Islamic Convention of North America in December. What they do is that they have speakers come in and just speak about Islam, too and there's also booths set up to talk about world problems, too with Islam and- or what's going in like Gaza or Palestine or whatever, things like that. So, there's a bunch of different events that are going on regarding the MSA, and just the community in general as well, too. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm. So how, how involved are you with- 'cause I know a lot of your friends are in MSA- but how involved are you with the actual events, umm, and the things that MSA puts on a part from just being your friends-like hanging out with your friends?

>> JAZIB: Umm, unfortunately, I haven't been super involved, just because it's a commute and everything, so I have to go home at a specific time, or I have to get back to work, or I can't make my mom worry, and it's things like that. But, I'm hoping to help out more with Islamic Awareness Week. Umm, I also try and help out as much as I can, whether it be setting up for Friday prayer, or even cleaning up for Friday prayer, just stuff like that I try and help out with. So.. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm. What is umm- What's Friday prayer like? Just 'cause I know, with my basic understanding of Islam that it's one of the most community-based times of prayer and the most important, like, what's that, what's that like for you? 

>> JAZIB: So you know how Christians go to the church on Sunday- 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, on Sunday.

>> JAZIB: and stuff? For like an hour or two or so, right?

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: That's pretty much how it is for Muslims. Muslims go to a mosque on Friday, for the second prayer. So there's that. And then we also have this thing called a khutba, which talks about whether it be world problems, or a lesson to be learned, or something like that. Where we talk about it for like 35 minutes and then pray. And then you would donate either to the mosque, or to a foundation or something, too. So that's kinda just what it is. UIC doesn't have a mosque on campus, but since our MSA is so big, we were able to get a room in one of our buildings here, where we hold Friday prayers. Which I think is really nice, too. It's just a time where all, all the brothers and sisters take off, or whatever, and come in one area, listen, and then pray together. I don't really know how to describe the feeling, but it's a really nice feeling. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah..

>> JAZIB: Seeing everyone together and stuff like that. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, I guess what I'm wondering more so, is how like-what's it like to have that consistent thing like that you didn't have before, now that you're here, like..? 

>> JAZIB: I think it's
[Microphone falling]
 really, really nice. 

>> PRATEEK: Oh, jeeze, alright.

>> JAZIB: My bad, sorry.

>> PRATEEK: We're still good. Okay.

>> JAZIB: Okay. Sorry!

>> PRATEEK: No worries. 

>> JAZIB: I think it's really, really nice, just because, one, you see everyone that you don't normally see, and the fact that even the people you don't see, you say hi to, no matter what. They always-they're always loving, sticking out their hands, saying, "As-salamu alaykum", which is just hello in Arabic, and you reply and everything, and you ask how they're doing, or how are classes, or things like that. It's just really nice after prayer to see all that happen. And then, even if you never talk to them in your life, either, they'll be happy to introduce themselves to you, which is really nice. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm. Cool... So... I guess what I'm wondering is like... How does it... How does being more involved with your faith, like, now that you're at UIC, how does that, like, affect you, and make you feel, in general, like, what, what's kind the, the difference that you've noticed between

>> JAZIB: Umm.

>> PRATEEK: before and now?

>> JAZIB: Umm, I noticed my parents stopped yelling at me as much. 


>> PRATEEK: Okay, yeah, that's one!

>> JAZIB: About like praying 5 times a day now. 'Cause they see me now, and they see that I care about it all, umm, it just makes me happy to know that I'm practicing my religion, even by myself now. Like even- I'll have some friends here who don't pray all 5 times a day, or they just can't or whatever, or for whatever reason, they don't. And I'll actually stand up and be like, "Okay, guys, I'll be right back, I'm gonna go pray" or whatever. Which is nice too, that I can just do that by myself now. Umm, I feel better about myself, too. And then it also makes my friends happy to see that, too.

>> PRATEEK: Sure. So what else besides like- I know, I know praying 5 times a day is like a huge, is a huge thing-

>> JAZIB: Mhm.

>> PRATEEK: and like a huge focus, but like have you noticed any other areas of like your faith being practiced more now that you're here? 

>> JAZIB: Unfortunately, no. I'm hoping to start reading the Qur'an again. I finished it twice and uhh.. I think the first time I finished it was maybe 8th grade or freshman year of high school. Then I finished it again maybe junior year, or near the end of junior year. And then I kind of- or I might've finished it senior year, then stopped there. I haven't opened it up since I finished it the second time. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm.

>> JAZIB: So that's something I wanna pick up again.

>> PRATEEK: And you've- when you say finished it and read through it, is that you've read through it all the way in Arabic or...?

>> JAZIB: Yeah, both times in Arabic. So..

>> PRATEEK: So how much like, how much do you understand when you're reading through it?

>> JAZIB: Unfortunately, I do not understand any of it. 

>> PRATEEK: So it's more for like the..

>> JAZIB: Yeah, so..

>> PRATEEK: the practice of going through it in the language, yeah?

>> JAZIB: So, basically how it works is that, everything that you read, whether it be prayers or like the Qur'an must be in Arabic.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: Whether you understand it or not. There's always an English translation as well, too. I have the English translation, I just haven't had the chance to read it yet. I wanna read it too. As well as the Arabic again so I don't forget it, because again, it's a different language and you needa practice it. Umm, but, I guess to have it count, I guess? It needs to be in Arabic. So..

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So are you like hoping to like read through the English translation all the way through as well as that..

>> JAZIB: Yeah.

>> PRATEEK: So that you do understand it all?

>> JAZIB: Yeah. I do, I do wanna read the English translation. I also wanna go back to my Qur'an teacher again, umm, at least over the summer or whenever I'm not in school, just because, one, I miss him, and two, I feel like he can still teach me more too about the religion itself. 

>> PRATEEK: Cool. Umm. And, and being at college, especially trying to practice your faith, have you felt like any sort of weirdness like seeing the way like I guess like a large majority of people like live their life versus the way like you're choosing to intentionally live your life?

>> JAZIB: Uhh. not..

>> PRATEEK: Just in terms of like college culture versus you know a more pious like Muslim culture.

>> JAZIB: Umm, not necessarily just because again, most of my friends are Muslim, umm, only one of them lives downtown. Uhh so they all go back home so they don't even really face the whole college experience, either. 

>> PRATEEK: Mhm.

>> JAZIB: Uhh, and my friend who does live down here, lives with other Muslim guys, and they don't do anything like- drinking's not a part of our religion,

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: doing drugs isn't part of our religion, either. So things like that. And then partying- you can go to parties or whatever and not do those stuff, but none of them really do. They're more about like basketball and stuff.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: So, umm, I feel like I'm not really missing out on any of the, the college experience or anything like that.

>> PRATEEK: Just 'cause you're surrounded by people who are also...

>> JAZIB: Yeah.

>> PRATEEK: Cool.

>> JAZIB: Like I'll see, I'll see like my other friends from high school doing all that stuff, but then I kind of think to myself, like what's the point? You're, you're drinking all.. drinking a bunch until you can't remember anything? Like what's- and then you have like the worst feeling the next day, like what's the point? Is that really fun? 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, so, so like that's, that hasn't been a struggle for you 

>> JAZIB: Yeah

>> PRATEEK: at all then? 

>> JAZIB: Yeah. No, I'm-firstly I think I'm actually really against both of those things.

>> PRATEEK: On your own?

>> JAZIB: By myself. Even without my religion. I think- I don't find any point in it. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. Umm, 'cause I know that can be like tough for when you like come 

>> JAZIB: Mhm.

>> PRATEEK: to college.

>> JAZIB: Yeah. 

>> PRATEEK: Hmm.

>> JAZIB: Like I have, I have friends who were completely sober all throughout high school and then when-they just did a complete 180 when they reached college.

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: And just splurged, and then they're like puking or whatever 7 times and passing out. Like, I don't understand, do you find that fun? 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah.

>> JAZIB: But, I dunno. If that's what they're into, I guess. 

>> PRATEEK: Yeah, sure. So you would say like, it's been pretty... I don't wanna say easy, um because that's not the word I'm looking for, but you would say it's been definitely possible to like practice your faith even more here? 

>> JAZIB: Mhm. Yeah, just because just being surrounded by all of them, too. Makes it a lot easier, too. So..

>> PRATEEK: Cool. Umm.. I don't really have any more questions, so I think we can wrap it up. Umm, thanks so much! 

>> JAZIB: No problem!

>> PRATEEK: You're the best. I'm gonna stop recording now.
Cecile-Anne Sison; WCAS MMLC
Oral History; Interview
MMLC Student Work
WCAS Multimedia Learning Center

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