MICHIGAN – Muslim students in Michigan State University have come together in an event planned to celebrate their cultural diversity and clear misconceptions held by their colleagues about their faith.
“Being a Muslim is integrated into everything I do, every action must benefit society or please God,” graduate student Heba Osman told The State News on Wednesday, February 24.
Osman is one of the Muslim students from MSU and East Lansing communities came together and were given the opportunity to share their experiences, both positive and negative, in an event sponsored by the Committee on Diversity of MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The event, called “Visions for the Future: Stories from your Muslim Neighbors,” was held on February 23.
The panelists, who come from various countries and cities like Dubai and Pakistan in addition to metropolitan Detroit, answered question of their colleagues who attended the event.
All of the student panelist members were graduate students enrolled in either MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine or College of Human Medicine.
Faraz Khan, one of the panelists who works as a doctor, said that Islam had influenced his career choice.
“One verse in the Quran really influenced my desire to be a doctor,” graduate student Khan said.
“It says, ‘If you save one life, it’s as if you saved all of humanity.’”
Some of the audience asked about hijab donned by two of the female panelists.
“I’m not a better Muslim because I wear a hijab, but it reminds me that I’m a Muslim and of my responsibilities,” Osman said.
Second year human medicine graduate student Susan Edlibi said the hijab allows her to not be judged based on how she looks.
Apart from misconceptions, Muslim students used the event to highlight the effect of the political atmosphere on American Muslims.
“I volunteered in a refugee camp and one of the women asked me how I could wear hijab in America,” Osman said.
“Because of the media’s portrayal she thought Americans hate Muslims. She was going to turn down an offer to immigrate and chose to stay in a refugee camp because of this.”
Muslims make up 1% of America’s 322 million population, according to Pew Research center.
Republican presidential candidates, such as Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson have been accused of flaring anti-Muslim sentiments.
Trump’s views on immigration have sparked controversy nationwide, especially his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US.
Nevertheless, the majority of Muslim students said they appreciate the diversity of America.
“America isn’t a melting pot, it’s a salad,” Edlibi said.
“We’re all separate but we come together to make something great.”