Zainab Kahloon is a Muslim-American of Pakistani decent who lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics with a minor in Statistics at Harvard College.
This story is part of “American Muslims”, a photo series created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist currently based in NYC. The project is dedicated to capturing the diversity of the Muslim community in the United States. We will not only be sharing the images from the project, but each image will be accompanied by a personal and unique story to show our shared humanity. To read more about Zainab and the rest of the faces from “American Muslims” click here.
What are the most important lessons you have learned in life?
Live in the moment. Don’t feel the need to rush through your entire life. Life is really about the connections you make and the experiences you get around people. Really processing what is around you is the only way to make the most of the opportunities and challenges thrown your way.
Are there any funny stories that your family tells about you that come to mind?
When I was five years old, my mother put me in a Sunday school to learn about Islam. One day we learned about the angels on your right and left shoulders that write down all of your actions. After I came home, every time I did something bad, I used to tap my left shoulder and tell the angel on the left not to write it down.
What is a significant source of your inspiration?
I am always searching for sources of light, from the light that emanates from my friends’ faces when they are doing something that they love to the Light of Allah (S), which transcends in various forms. This search for light in my life has made me more cognizant of how and where I spend my energy and my spiritual capital. “Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.”
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who cared. The people I interact with, the causes I work for, and the classes that I take all have my utmost love and devotion, and I want that passion to be palpable with and without my physical presence. I value deep connections with people the most, so if they can attest to the love that I have given them, then I will have lived a successful life.