Can Muslim university student heal departments in the US?|U.S.A.|Al Jazeera

What's Happening

Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to go to college in the United States.

As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into trainee life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was typically inquired about the dispute and life in Syria.

The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also became more individual concerns about his faith, he stated.

“The biggest challenge for me in college was browsing the assumptions that individuals made about my faith,” Shaheen informed Al Jazeera.

Some were amazed that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misconstrued and stereotyped.

Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen]”I do not desire anyone to feel by doing this, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, which shaped my whole work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.

As a member of the Vanderbilt Interfaith Council, and later on its president, Shaheen stated weekly conversations and events on school enabled him to connect with students of various faiths who were interested in broadening their world view while resolving some of those misguided assumptions about Islam and Muslims.

Islamophobia is on the increase in the US, according to the annual Islamophobia index by the Institute for Social Policy and Comprehending’s (ISPU), a think-tank based in Washington, DC.

In the middle of the heightened spiritual discrimination, Muslim trainees, like Shaheen, are using their four-year college experience to try to bridge departments and encourage openness towards different faiths, opinions and backgrounds.

Pluralism orientation

According to a nationwide study by the Interfaith Variety Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Study (SUITABLES), which tracked countless students from 122 organizations from their very first semester of 2015 to their last year in 2019, Muslim students made the biggest progress pluralistically in college. About 1.5 percent of first-year (freshmen) trainees were Muslim in 2018.

SUITABLES found that Muslim trainees began their college journey with strong pluralism scores – which catch goodwill towards people of other spiritual and non-religious perspectives, and preparedness to work across considerable distinctions to fix typical problems. And they likewise made the best gains throughout college relative to other groups – Buddhists, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, atheists – on this procedure, the survey shown Al Jazeera recommended.

“These findings demonstrate that Muslim students are poised to be amongst a few of the most productive citizens in America over the next few years due to the fact that they’re demonstrating such an attraction to pluralistic worths and the type of values that are needed to recover departments in our society, to develop collaborations across religious lines that are needed to solve issues in society,” Kevin Singer, research study associate at SUITABLES, told Al Jazeera.

Talking about the survey, IDEALS co-founder Matthew J Mayhew lauded the “resiliency” of Muslim students in the “face of an upward fight” and a “hostile” environment.

Survey results showing pluralism patterns in United States colleges [Courtesy: IDEALS] Bengali American Sinthia Shabnam got associated with interfaith activities at North Carolina State University at a time when President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 that banned travel for a lot of nationals from a number of Muslim-majority nations, sparking outrage and confusion throughout the US.

“We held a large rally at NC State University called the United Not Divided Rally, showcasing many students to speak on the effect of the global concern that was happening, and who it was affecting, and what we can do moving on,” Shabnam, who just recently graduated from NCSU, remembered.

“It was incredibly empowering simply to see that individuals appreciated a ‘Muslim concern’ as a humanitarian one,” she said.

Currently functioning as the education director of NCSU’s Muslim Trainee Association, Shabnam states her top concern is to demonstrate approachability of Muslims on a primarily white Christian campus. As a hijab-wearing lady, she feels there is discrimination.

“The experience varies from individual to person, and it can be implicit or explicit. I like to utilize those minutes, when applicable, as mentor moments,” the 22-year-old stated.

Muslim students at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States [Picture courtesy: NC State Muslim Trainee Association] The variety of anti-Muslim hate criminal activities and bias incidents surged after Trump took office in 2017, according to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

CAIR associated the rise to Trump’s travel restriction, his regular anti-Muslim comments and other policies targeting Muslims.

At the middle and high school levels in Texas, nearly half of the Muslim students aged in between 11 and 18 who were surveyed by CAIR said they experienced some type of bullying, including online abuse for being Muslim.Other key findings

, revealed by CAIR’s Dallas Fort-Worth(CAIR-DFW)chapter previously this year suggested that 15 percent of students surveyed reported having their hijab tugged, pulled or offensively touched, while 41 percent of Muslim trainees were not comfy participating in class conversations about Islam and Muslims.’ Significant political shift’Egyptian American Lela

Ali is all too familiar with

being discriminated versus and called a”terrorist” from a young age.”There has never ever been a minute where I did

n’t feel like somebody was trying to guess where I’m from, whether or not I spoke English, or if I was American,”stated the 25-year-old college student at Duke University. In 2016, Ali, in addition to 2 other African immigrant ladies, introduced

Muslim Ladies For, a Raleigh-based grassroots organisation promoting social justice, colour empowerment and political development. Prayers to the Surveys project was launched to educate and inform Muslims about early voting, rights at the surveys, and polling areas in North Carolina [Picture courtesy: Muslim Women For] In an effort to get more Muslims to vote in the presidential elections this year, the non-profit group, released the Prayers to the Surveys project, providing free bus

trips after Friday prayers from each mosque to a close by early voting website for the primary election in Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina. A 2018 ISPU report showed that growing Islamophobia pushed Muslim Americans to end up being more politically engaged. According to Ali, a”major political shift “among Muslim Americans in the last years has been led by young Muslims and Muslim trainees.”Regardless of rising anti-Muslim bigotry and an administration that has actually directly assaulted this neighborhood, young

Muslims are not just arranging around identity politics, however constructing power through cross-community building and recovering what it actually suggests to be Muslim American,”she said. Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz.