SAN ANTONIO – Students from different faiths in Sajida Jalalzai’s class named ‘Introduction to the Qur’an’ have reached out to the Muslim community in San Antonio, Texas learning about the Holy Qur’an, religion, and spirituality, Trinitonian reported on November 29.
“I do research that often focuses on ethnography and observing communities, and I wanted my class to have the experience of doing this kind of research, sharing their results with peers and analyzing their findings,” said Jalalzai, an associate professor of religion who is specialized in the anthropological approach to Islam in North America.
The female Muslim professor hoped that the assignment’s group presentation component, which took place this week and required students to share their findings with the class, would help students understand the multitude of approaches Muslims can take to their faith.
“Given that this is a course on the Qur’an, many questions students ask have to do with [the interviewee’s] relationship with the Qur’an as a physical text and as a religious text, if they memorize specific passages, favorite verses,” Jalalzai said.
“A recurring question that the students have asked is how Muslims interpret the Qur’an’s portrayal of women.”
The professor further explained that “one of the goals of the presentations is for the whole class to get a sense of the diversity of the Muslim community in North America, disrupting ideas of homogeneous Muslim communities. As students often find, approaches to the Islamic faith differ: some Muslims have an intimate relationship with their faith and some not really at all.”
Sophomore Lara Case interviewed a Muslim Trinity alumna and learned about the passages from the Qur’an that mean the most to her.
“I thought it was interesting that she would always say a specific memorized prayer from the Qur’an before she got in her car, to protect her from possible car accidents,” Case said.
“One of her favorite passages from the Qur’an is Surah al-Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Qur’an) because it’s one that she learned as a child, so it brings her comfort.”
According to Pew Research Center’s 2014 report ‘Religious Landscape Study: Texas’, Muslims represented 1% of the total population of Texas which has about 28,304,596 million people according to 2017 estimates.