Separated from the Pack: Life as a Muslim Woman at UWG

Jarahi Barry is a 22-year-old Muslim woman majoring in Speech Language Pathology at UWG. She works as a Resident Assistant for Housing and Residence Life.

Maria Jesus Martinez

Jarahi Barry is a 22-year-old Muslim woman majoring in Speech Language Pathology at UWG. She works as a Resident Assistant for Housing and Residence Life. On the outside, she seems like the rest of her peers as she works, studies and hangs out with friends. However, she also feels like a stranger as her beliefs make her live and think differently from the rest of the students at UWG.

Barry was born in Guinea, but is presently living in the United States. When she was a baby, her parents got their visa and moved to Atlanta. Barry lived with her grandmother until she was old enough to get her visa at age fifteen. 

Barry knows some Muslims in the university.However, it’s not the same as back home where most of its citizens follow Islam.

“Literally in the whole school I am the one with the hijab,” said Barry. “There are some people here that if I am not friends with them, I won ́t know that they are muslims unless they tell me.

“Same thing with boys, there is no dress code where you can see them with the hijab,” Barry continued. “But if you see me with the hijab, no doubt I am a Muslim.”

UWG does not have many things to offer when it comes to her religion. When Barry was a freshman, there was a Muslim Student Organization run by senior Muslim Students, but the organization stopped existing as soon as those students graduated. She also does not have a place nearby to worship God. 

“There is no Mosque here in Carrollton,” said Barry. “If I want to go to pray, I have to go to Atlanta, which is an hour away.”

Barry needs lots of time to pray as she also does Salat, the five daily prayers that Muslims do in dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset and night. She religiously follows this routine, whether she is working or in class.

“Everytime I get a new job I tell my boss that I have to pray five times a day, the moments that I use for prayer and to please allow me to stop and pray,” said Barry. “Just like when I am in class. When it is time to pray, I tell my teachers to let me pray.

“They are genuinely nice and they tell me of course, that I should go pray or that I don’t even need to ask me,” continued Barry.

Following Allah is not simply about praying, it is alsoabout not doing things that God believes is harmful. As a strongly religious Muslim, Barry does not drink, smoke, show her skin outside, go to parties, or swim unless she is wearing her body suit. She especially does not date the same way her friends do. 

“As a Muslim, I am not supposed to date somebody like a girlfriend and boyfriend,” said Barry. “I am not even allowed to talk to a boy on a phone if they are not my dad, my brother, my uncle or grandpa.

If she sees a man that she likes and he is Muslim, Barry goes to her parents and tells them that she is interested in him. If her parents approve of the man, they will go talk to the suitor to tell him about how their daughter feels. If the feeling is mutual, they can start to hang out with each other in public or in their households, as long as a third party is with them at all times. They also have to keep distance between each other at all times until they get married. 

For Barry, this way of finding a partner is not compatible with the way she has been approached by guys at the university.

“A scenario is when I work at the service desk and some boys come in a playful way and tell me that I am pretty. I would say thank you, but they come again,” said Barry. “Sometimes they ask for my instagram or sometimes they try to shake my hands.

“I don’t have a problem when they tell me that I am pretty, but I don’t want them to come again,” continued Barry. “I also explained to them how I don’t shake hands. At first they were in shock but they understood later.”

Her faith can fluctuate at times. For instance, sometimes she may listen to music at an event and dance to it. However, this is prohibited by Islam as they are related to satanic sways. Barry also used toeat non-Halal food, any food or goods that are not prepared according to Sharia Law. That is when they torture or do not take care of an animal appropriately before killing it.

 “Now I think that if God tells me don ́t eat it, there are other places whereI can get Halal Food,” said Barry. “If they have chicken in the Dine West, I can have fish, rice or a veggie burger to full me up.”

After all and no matter what it takes, for Barry God comes first.

 “My goal is to please God, I don ́t care what peoplethink,” said Barry.



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