Photography by Ayman Ahmad
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I asked non-Muslim students at UCLA what they know about Islam, some mentioned prayer and making pilgrimage, but two answers were most common: “Islam requires women to wear hijab” or “It had tons of rules and rituals”.
When one looks up “Islam” in the dictionary, this is the definition he/she will find: “the religion of the Muslim, a monotheistic faith revealed through Muhammad the prophet of Allah.” To many Muslims, Islam is more than a religion and the only way to find out what it means to them is to ask.
Below are the responses by some Muslim Bruins when asked what Islam means to them.
Heba AbuLebda, 4th Year Electrical Engineering Major
Michael Oshiro, 4th Year PhD student in Special Education
“Islam grants me a sense of meaning and a feeling of peace amidst the oppression I face as a person of color. It is a religion of great love and compassion, and it strengthens my drive for social justice.”
Rida Hassan, 1st year Physiological Sciences Major
Fahd Anwar, 1st Year Business Economics Major
Sarah Abolail, 2nd Year English Major
“It means an answer about how to live life peacefully, happily and rightfully. By striving to become a better Muslim I try to reach my highest potential as a human being who is responsible to make the world a better place. It starts with a small thing like a smile to make others happy, and then moves towards the big changes: seeking to improve things like education, politics, healthcare and the quality for all of humanity.”
Ranim Hijazi, Pre-law English Major (graduated)
Sofia Moreno Haq, 4th Year Psycholinguistics Major
Tarik Takkesh, Neuroscience & Arabic Double-Major (graduated)
“Islam is character. Prophet Muhammad said, ‘The best of my Ummah are those who when treated foolishly are tolerant, and when attacked they forgive, and when hurt are patient.’ He was the perfect emulation of this Hadith. Islam is understanding that everyone is flawed, but having a heart that is pure and giving love that is real. Character is Islam.”
Neyamatullah Akbar, 4th Year Biology Major
Muhib Yusufi, 3rd Year Psychobiology Major
“Islam to me is much more than one of the most dominant religions of modern civilization; it is a way of life. Islam helps keep my life stable, and serves as a means of making each day the most productive, whether it is through spreading happiness or cleansing my soul, and avoiding malicious actions.”
Zawar Jafri, 4th YearPolitical Science Major
Nabilah N Abdelaal, 3rd Year Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Major
“Islam means life. Islam means having that One true confidant who controls everything.”
Michelle Schafieh, 2nd Year Psychobiology Major and Near Eastern Studies Minor
Question: What does Islam mean to you?
Although no response was longer than two sentences, it took each person a while to articulate his/her answer. The question is not difficult; rather the possible ways to answer are endless.
For some Muslims, Islam is everything and serves as a manual for life. Islam provides a connection with God every minute of the day, not only in times of need–seeking God’s blessings and mercy while interacting with people, studying or even having lunch.
Ultimately, Islam is a source of guidance and comfort, teaching us how to be at peace with ourselves, our surroundings and our Creator, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful, Allah.