Women in Memphis face challenges converting to Islam

The Quran shown in the photo is the holiest book in the religion of Islam. Converts follow the rules of Islam, which are explained in the Quran. Photo by Omer Yusuf

For Muslim women, the hijab, or veil, represents a key aspect of their appearance and religion.

When Anne Robinson converted to Islam in the seventh grade, she knew could not tell her mom, who was Catholic, that she was Muslim. Consequently, Robinson could not wear the hijab at home.

“I knew that was something my mom would not allow whatsoever,” said Robinson, who is now 34 years old and lives in Memphis. “Of course, if she knew that I was wearing it, she would know I really did accept Islam.”


These issues – not limited to just the hijab – are magnified by the current political climate in America which often connects Muslims, particularly converts, to extremist groups. The Pew Research Center estimates there are 3.3 million Muslims in America, with roughly 800,000 being converts.

Noor Taylor, who is a senior at the University of Memphis, also had struggles with the hijab upon converting to Islam in August 2015. Her issues, however, didn’t involve her family. She struggled with whether to wear or not  to wear a hijab in the hot summer months. Eventually, she said she wanted to fully embrace Islam, and to Taylor that meant wearing the hijab.

“If I’m going to be a part of Islam, I’m all of Islam and not just part of Islam,” Taylor said.

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About the Author

Omer Yusuf

When he’s not reminding his fellow Memphians about it never being cold, Minnesota native Omer Yusuf is the sports editor at The Daily Helmsman, the University of Memphis independent student newspaper. Yusuf has also interned at The Commercial Appeal, Memphis’ largest daily newspaper. Yusuf loves sports, but he wants to assure the world he’s more than just a sports mind.

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