“Iqra!” or “Read!” is the first command from God to the prophet, Muhammad. Reading and learning have become some of the most important values Muslims hold.
It is God’s first command that has brought Muslim students to Montclair State University to honor the high value they place upon learning and education. By bringing their religious values into their daily lives, Muslim students continue to influence and be influenced by others during their time at Montclair State.
For Muslim students, choosing Montclair State as a college is not without reason. Being safe and getting positive recommendations from friends or family are two of the most important reasons why they finally decide to go to Montclair State.
Muslim students are no different from students of other faiths. They have fun with friends, struggle on difficult assignments, become involved with organizations, explore campus activities and so on. They also have goals for the future and dreams of achieving greatness.
However, Muslim students face certain barriers that students of other faiths may be unfamiliar with.
To begin with, most Muslim students are way out of their comfort zone. Being so far from friends, family, community and their home country can make foreign students feel uneasy at times. Yet, this uncomfortable feeling grows when Muslim students are questioned or judged for simply practicing their faith.
Secondly, Muslim students need to fulfill their religious duties by praying five times a day. Sometimes, prayer time is not the most convenient, which may lead to having prayer time during a class.
However, in Montclair State, the barriers Muslim students face can be minimized. The Muslim Student Association creates a space for Muslim students to meet, share and discuss their faith and life experiences.
It lends a place for Muslim students at Montclair State to engage as a family and form their home-away-from-home by creating their own community. Through the university’s financial support, the Muslim Student Association is able to create a huge support group and family for Muslim students.
Being a Muslim student at Montclair State allows interactions with people of different faiths. Based on my own experience and some conversations with Muslim friends, we admire how welcoming and open-minded most American and other international professors and students are at Montclair State.
For the most part, we have always been treated with the utmost respect on campus.
On the other hand, there are always a few people who look at Muslim students as strangers. It cannot be denied that, as a minority, many people are perplexed by our religious identity and have even come to dislike us due to our religion.
While we understand the events that have caused these emotions that have become evident in America, it needs to be made clear that those events are in no way related to Islam.
Similarly, in the home countries of many Muslim students, there are many false views about Western values. People have their own assumptions that are not appropriate in describing the entirety of the Western world. After being part of Montclair State, I can feel confident that most of those assumptions are not true.
Montclair State has provided all students with a great opportunity. Through interaction in classes, activities and organizations, both Muslim and non-Muslim students are able to gain a better understanding about each other’s culture and faith.
Muslim students’ experiences at Montclair State can develop a golden bridge for other Muslims. Through my time at Montclair State, I have been able to gain a better perspective on Western life.
But, the greatest lesson has been the chance to learn of true acceptance, equality and humanity which I and every other Muslim student will be able to carry with us across the globe.