What it’s Like Being Muslim on a Catholic Campus
November 10, 2017
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Being Muslim on a Catholic college campus certainly has its ups and downs.
First off, there’s the inevitable challenge of being different from the majority. While there is a significant population of Muslims on my campus, we are a minority and are often looked at with a lesser value in the eyes of students. However, Manhattan College (where I attend) has done an incredible job of promoting the Lasallian value of interfaith solidarity and supports the Muslim Community. As president of the Muslim Student Association, I can attest to the fact that the faculty at MC go above and beyond to learn more about our faith and how they can help us maintain our faith on campus.
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Finally, there’s the element of being a woman of color on campus who chooses to wear a hijab. On one hand, there is the respect amongst students and faculty for my faith. On the other hand, there are the few people who see my hijab as a target and throw slurs my way as I walk from one class to another. For a significant time after the election of Donald Trump, there were times I no longer felt safe wearing the hijab as it made me a target for the Trump supporters. However, at the end of the day, I chose to keep wearing it as an embodiment of my faith. The perpetrators of hate speech were a small group compared to the majority who take my hijab to be a symbol of peace. Alongside this, professors and students often stop me to ask questions about Islam, which promotes a dialogue between different peoples of faith on campus.
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Being Muslim on a Catholic campus comes with its fair share of challenges–but, let’s be honest, being a Muslim anywhere in America does. At the end of the day, attending a faith-based institution was the best decision I made in order to maintain the role my religion has in my day to day life.
My name is Rabea Ali and I am a woman who is just trying to conquer the world and sleep eight hours every day. I am a business student at Manhattan College who also tackles issues of social justice and inequalities on campus and in New York City. I was born and raised in Brooklyn but now reside in Rockland County. In my free time (just kidding there never is any the world has got JUST a few things that need tackling every minute), I enjoy photography and writing poetry.
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Ali, Rabea [MC????]
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[JR: I am ashamed of those students, who “throw slurs”. That’s contrary to everything that I think Alma Mater represents. These folks fail to remember that as “catholics”, if that’s what you could call them, are a persecuted minority too. And, the best remember Pastor Martin Niemöller’s poem as it applies to all of us.]
“First they came …” is a famous statement and provocative poem attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_…
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I believe that Rabea may be a member of the class of 2020.
McEneney, Mike (MC1953)
[JR: Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.]
Ali, Rabea [MC2020?]
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