Ism'Allah Necklace

When I first started school many years ago I would cry for my mom, in efforts to calm me down she took the gold necklace she was wearing, with the name of Allah inscribed in it, and put it on me and promised that she would take it back when I no longer cried for her. My mother did not bring many things with her when she came to America from Afghanistan, but she always wore the gold necklace her father had given her many years ago from his travels as a doctor. I’ve worn the necklace for the better part of my life, a constant reminder of my own evolving Afghan American identity. Growing up I was asked plenty of times, “What’s on your necklace?” and with my fingers tracing the letters I would explain that it was the name of God, Allah, more specifically. It slowly went beyond being just a piece of jewelry but a physical reminder of my family’s immigration, and the culture and religion that continued to shape their life in a new country. Often times I forget that I’m wearing it, which is fitting because my first generation identity doesn’t simply sit on me either, nor is it something that I can take on and off. My family’s cultural and religious identity is part of my very being, like my mom’s necklace.

Place(s): Afghanistan
Year: 1995

– Lina

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