My grandmother gave me this necklace the day I was born. It was my last name “Jannat” carved out of gold. My last name means Heaven or Paradise in Arabic. My parents & I came to the United States 21 years ago from a little country called Bangladesh. I was just 9 months old. Coming into the United States my mom would tell me she lost her sense of religion at the beginning because she didn't find a Muslim community right off the bat. I have been wearing this necklace since I turned 6 years old. My parents felt out of place, but looking at the necklace my grandmother gave me, gave them the strength to keep practicing Islam. Ideally, in Islam you want to be in Paradise after death, that's the goal. My parents kept up their religious practices up and eventually they found a community who share the same beliefs and practices as we do. In order to get to paradise, there are many things you have to do. Such as having great faith, fasting, prayers, charity and completing hajj. My necklace embodies the religious and cultural identity of my family and many Muslim Bengali's as well. I grew up on the meaning behind my last name. And I too aim for paradise. This piece of jewelry that I have been wearing since I was 6 reminds me of who I am, where I came from, and what the meaning behind my life is.
– Meftahul Jannat