Ahlam Ahmed dreams of becoming a firefighter. Photo credit: Irene Chidinma Nwoye / Village Voice.
OnIslam & News Agencies
NEW YORK – Despite her petite frame, a New York young Muslim girl is pursuing her dream to be the city’s first-ever Muslim firefighter in the department, with spirits capable of overcoming challenges.
“I want to see what the Fire Department New York’s (FDNY) has to offer,” Ahlam Ahmed, dressed in jeans, red sweater and white hijab, told The Village Voice.
Ahmed, a five-foot-tall New York City high school senior who weighs 105 pounds, said she was determined to join the force.
Along with other five women, Ahmed attended the Fire Department New York’s (FDNY) first-ever Women’s History Month Female Outreach Event which was created to help inspire more women to join the department.
The young girl has also taken the last examination organized by FDNY department.
With only 44 women in the department’s more than 10,400 firefighters, Ahmed’s dream faces lots of challenges.
Besides her petite frame, she was reluctant first due to her strict parents and being a girl.
“At first, I was like, ‘I can’t do that,’?” she says. “I’ve got strict parents and I’m a girl and I’m small.”
But the male recruiter told her “Do it! Do it! Sign up! You never know what’s going to happen.”
“I liked that pressure. I appreciated him pressuring me to do this,” she said.
Choosing to don Islamic veil, or hijab, the young Muslim was concerned because of the uniform and dress code.
“We try to accommodate religious practices,” said Elisheva Zakheim, an FDNY press officer who added that the department had never had an ‘observant Muslim’ in its ranks.
If approved, Ahmed would not be the first US Muslim woman to choose firefighting career.
In 2014, Richmond Muslim mother of two Kae Asima became Virginia’s first veiled Muslim firefighter.
Though being the only Muslim, Asima is one of 36 women who are firefighters in Richmond fire department.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
A recent Pew research found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.