BY NATHALIE ALONSO
As an adolescent, Jackson Heights resident Carla Carballo, 29, would greet her male friends in typical Latin fashion – with a kiss on the cheek.However, ever since she converted to Islam a decade ago, Carballo, who is single, has given up that custom and no longer socializes with men who are not relatives.Carballo was eight years old when her family immigrated to the United States from Bolivia. She was drawn to Islam primarily because of the conservative lifestyle it endorses for women and began using the hijab (the Islamic veil) immediately after converting.
“My self esteem depended on how people saw me. Now, the only opinion that matters to me is that of my family,” explains Carballo, who was employed as a promoter for a nightclub before converting and now spends several months out of the year in Korea teaching English to school-aged children.To veil or not to veil – modesty is keyThe hijab has indeed become the iconic symbol of the Muslim woman although the Qu’ran – the Muslim holy text – does not explicitly state that women must veil. Rather, it dictates that women must be modest.That is why Ninah Pretto, 24, who converted to Islam two years ago, does not feel pressured to wear the veil. [more]