Dear Muslims on Campus,
I’m going to make this is as brief as possible. I am as surprised as all of you to know that the NYPD was watching us – man they were living on our campus too! But this isn’t anything new. Big brother has always been watching us, and then we get stereotyped as being these radical Muslims. I know from my own experience, in high school the kid sitting next to me used to cross out my name and write “Saddam Hussein;” we all probably have some sort of story like that, some maybe worse. We think we have a right to cry about the demented view society has of Muslims when, really, we ourselves are partly to blame. I’m not blaming Muslims for what happened recently, but I am referring to the fact that Muslims stick to their own people.
Think about your circle of friends. How much diversity is there? Aside from beard length or opinions of when Asr comes in? People will perceive us how we allow them to perceive us. If we only hang out with Muslim kids what does that achieve? I know many of us went to Islamic schools our whole lives so it’s hard to interact with people who aren’t Muslim. But that should not be an excuse. The Muslim community in general is to blame regardless of what kind of school they went to. We all have to realize the real world isn’t filled with just Muslims.
Ever since the Project Ummah event, I learned that we shouldn’t be afraid of our religion and we should stand up for it when we are persecuted. More importantly, we need to break this stereotype. Engy Abdelqadir said that we as Rutgers students need to be more proactive and engage in non-Muslim oriented events. Some of this does involve interacting with the opposite gender. Oh my gosh fitnah! Let me just mention that we as Muslims should know our boundaries; if a situation comes close to the boundaries of fitnah, we should remove ourselves, but if our intentions are pure then we won’t run into those situations. I’ve come up with 3 ways to easily interact with non-Muslims:
1. Join other clubs. Jump out of your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised what kind of people you meet
2. Perform simple acts of courtesy. Be nice, hold the door open, say thank you, and always smile!
3. Community service. What better way to show that we are good Samaritans than to help out the community?
Let me be honest with you, I’m guilty of not doing all 3 at some point. I remember I worked with this kid on a conference this year and he didn’t do jack. I literally hated his guts, but I still tried to be nice to him; not because that’s the right thing to do, but because I thought what if this one interaction he has with me – a Muslim – sets the precedent for the way he views all Muslims?
Honestly this isn’t hard to do. Look at the petition against NYPD surveillance, there are so many different people standing up for us Muslims-we need to show them who we really are. If we want to break these stereotypes we must realize the only hindrance is ourselves.
I’m no expert. I’m just sharing my thoughts. Please feel free to criticize.
(I am not saddam -__-)