With yesterday’s news of the death of Osama bin Laden, and stories of Americans celebrating in the streets (including on college campuses), it seemed an opportune time to look back at the posts we’ve done on what it’s like to be a Muslim studying in America.
Back in January we talked to a number of students from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries to find out about their experiences.
We heard from Umer Sultan, who came to the U.S. from Pakistan and recently decided to grow a beard in accordance with Islamic law, and from Beenish Akhtar, who decided to start wearing the hijab after 9/11. They’ve both experienced some negative reactions since they changed their appearance, but according to Umer:
It’s more on media. People are nice. In general people are nice, there are just one or two people here or there who might give you trouble.
And Beenish said:
My mom, she was so against it because she was afraid. She didn’t want people harassing me or anything like that. But beside a few stares or a few glares every now and then I didn’t really feel targeted.
Comments from students at George Washington University:
Our bloggers Sadia from Pakistan and Farima from Afghanistan have both shared their stories as well.
“I was so concerned, and had fears in mind too,” said Sadia of her arrival in the U.S. But her experience quickly turned positive.
Later, during my Christmas holidays, I went to other cities to explore more: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix. Again the same treatment – the same response by very friendly security officers. They didn’t think I was an alien from Pakistan. They didn’t think I could be a potential terrorist because I am a Muslim. Americans, you won my heart the way you treated me unbiased and very American.
Farima has dedicated herself to sharing her culture and teaching classmates about the Muslim religion and about Afghanistan. She says classmates have been curious to know more about her beliefs.
I have been the only Muslim girl to wear a hijab (head scarf) at Kent School, which makes me different from every other student. Therefore, my friends, the faculty members, and the school staff have asked me the reason for wearing it, and I have always appreciated their curiosity and have been happy to answer their questions.
And if you’re concerned about whether you will be able to practice your religion freely or fully, take a look at this post: Dispelling Myths About Hijab, Daily Prayers, and Other Practicalities of Muslim Life on Campus