A Muslim Adjusts to University Life

I have been fortunate enough to have the two very different types of college experiences. For my undergraduate career, I attended Loyola University, the Jesuit Catholic University of Chicago and lived at home during that time. Recently, I have moved to a small town in Missouri for my graduate studies. Needless to say, this shift was quite drastic and required much more adjustment on my behalf.

At Loyola, I found myself among a very diverse crowd and a wide assortment of Muslim classmates. Because starting at a new university is always a challenge, it was very important for me to find a strong Muslim support network in addition to non-Muslim friends. Logically, I started at our university’s Muslim Students Association. Here I was able to meet an intermixture of different students with varying degrees of faith. I found that the best way to identify trustworthy and supportive friends was by being open, clear, and proud of my own identity and beliefs. In this way, it was easy to understand similarities in order to develop friendships and to use the differences to facilitate propagation of our faith and tolerance, instead of conflict.

Because I was a commuter student at the time, I did not face the struggles of dorm life and diet and lived quite comfortably at home. I had the luxury of being on campus in order to become involved in student activities and volunteerism as well as going home when studies got demanding. During this time, I worked to maintain a strong commitment to my religious obligations. I quickly understood that being out of my parents’ supervision meant that I would hold the sole responsibility of carrying out religious duties. Maintaining a strict prayer timetable between my classes and extracurricular commitments was vital to establishing other spiritual habits. For example, I made sure to be prepared when night classes ran through the time for breaking the fast during Ramadan and spoke to professors about Muharram commitments ahead of time.

Yet the most important way I worked to develop my spirituality was by sharing it with others. Being open to questions and discussion on faith was integral to strengthening my own. This applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Working as a campus liaison for our MSA gave me the opportunity to create interfaith events where many different faiths and cultures were able to come together and discuss our beliefs and heritage. Last year, we held a “Building the Peace, Breaking the Fast” event on a day in Ramadan that coincided with a Christian and Jewish fast. Our organizations used this opportunity to spread knowledge about our beliefs while standing together on the shared objective of peace between our religions. Events such as these allowed for campus harmony and also supplemented my spirituality as well.

full article: www.insight-info.com

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