VA: FAITH AND SERVICE FUSE FOR MUSLIM TEEN
The day Zishan Hameed found out he had been accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy was among the best of his 17 years.
After spending days checking the mail and nights praying for a letter, he was called into the office of a Norview High School guidance counselor one day in February.
His mother and father, who hail from Pakistan and spend much of their time at their convenience store, 7 Brothers Food City, appeared. His father, Abdul Hameed, had tears in his eyes.
"That look on his face there, that was all worth it," Hameed said.
He was finishing his fourth year in the school's Naval Junior ROTC program, serving as the commanding officer. The unit had performed better than ever before in competitions.
Hameed had prevailed in four push-up competitions. During one of them, he'd been fasting during daylight hours for Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, when it is believed the Quran was sent down to man. He did 100 push-ups and won.
Hameed's dream was to attend the Naval Academy. His conviction was to continue his deep devotion to Islam.
Over the past year, Hameed came to terms with the fact that he was training to join the U.S. military when many of its enemies share his faith.
"Islam is really about being a good person, morally, ethically and physically," he said.
"That's what a naval officer is."