SZA: “I was raised orthodox Muslim. Very sheltered, very conservative. I used to wear overalls and baggy clothes because modesty is a big thing [in Islam]. All my friends were Muslim with the exception of my neighbors. I didn’t watch television or listen to the radio. When I was cheerleading and doing gymnastics, my dad made me put on leggings and long sleeve. I was a girl so my dad was like, ‘You do nothing.’

“My mother is actually Christian but she goes to [the Friday prayer for Muslims] Jumu’ah and we don't have Christmas trees in the house. When I got older, my dad eventually was like, ‘You can have a very small Christmas tree but you can’t put lights on it.’ She’s really respectful, she would take it down as soon as it was over. My dad is really tolerable.

 

Somewhere around the 7th grade, when 9/11 happened, it got weird and awkward. I was attacked at school and taunted. My dad’s mosque came under fire, it was a bad time. I just wanted to be regular. At school, I wanted to fit in so I would take my hijab off.

 

“I wore a hijab for a while and went to Muslim prep school. I [went to the secondary school] everyday after my regular school. On Fridays, I would not go to my normal school at all, I would just go to my prep school and be reciting surahs and all. It was super interesting, but once I got to a certain age I made my own decisions and veered away, very hard.

“Somewhere around the 7th grade, when 9/11 happened, shit got weird and awkward. I was attacked at school and taunted. It got really uncomfortable and I started to get embarrassed. My dad’s mosque came under fire, it was a bad time. I just wanted to be regular. At school, I wanted to fit in so I would take my hijab off. I asked my mom if I could go school shopping, rather than let my dad because I would just wear long skirts or overalls everyday.

“Sophomore year of high school, I was covering again except when I was in gymnastics and cheerleading. I don’t know why I did that again; I think I was starting to feel like ungrounded or losing my mind. I was upset and had to go back to something that was familiar to me so I started covering again. That didn’t go over well, I was teased and antagonized about that. After that I just quit. Me and my dad separated really hard, we didn't talk for a while and things were weird because I was such a daddy’s girl.

“I’ll probably being wearing a hijab in the next year, I’m regressing, it’s weird. I go to Jumu’ah when I can with my dad. Some things never change. I’ll feel most comfortable with Islam forever. It just makes most sense to me out of everything else, there’s less variables and less space for human error. It’s very rigid but it’s safe because you can trust it. There’s no photos or idles, no songs or hymnals, it is what it is. I like the clarity.”