Muslim Students on a Christian Campus
- Christianity vs. Islam is an age-old war that has resulted in many horrors.
- Christian Campus home to non christians and muslims, despite fundamental values the university upholds.
- There is mutual tolerance between muslims and christians despite different ideologies that both have extremist pasts.
Oklahoma Christian University is home to students of different types of denominations of Christian faith as well as students of other based faiths. At OC Muslim students are an invaluable minority that have expanded the barriers of diversity and the true meaning of brotherhood. Though both Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions that are monotheistic, they differ in many ways. Both have well over a billion followers they have had great strife with each other in the past. Have students come to campus preloaded with assumptions widely perpetuated by the some of the media? Has the media rendered non-muslim students incapable of meeting new muslim with an open mind?
Age-old war: Christianity vs. Islam
Both Islam and Christianity stem from belief of absolute principles in philosophical, theoretical and ethical matters. Through absolutism, Christianity and Islam are an intertwined story of conflict and war that goes back centuries. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, when American ideals clashed with radical Islam, many Americans since have a somewhat unfavorable perception of Islam. This has negatively impacted encounters between some Muslim and non-muslim students.
Christian Campus home to non Christians and Muslims
On the campus of OC, President Zekariah McNeal describes how some students are very welcoming, and others, aren’t as welcoming.“If they aren’t directly verbally saying something against [Muslims], it is possible that non-muslim are still avoiding [Muslim] or giving them odd looks that makes the Muslim students uncomfortable,” said McNeal.
I got a unique perspective through Liina Umuhoza, a Rwandan, who’s lived her whole life in the United States. “Most people don’t really react differently after they have found out I’m muslim. But a few people have stopped talking to me and just become awkward,” she said. On account of this reason, Liina chooses not to wear her hijab (head covering worn in public by Muslim women) whenever possible. However, “Despite the odd reaction sometimes, my closest friends here are Christians.”
Of all the muslims students interviewed, each student reports how OC truly transcends the fear of Muslims supported by the media. Muslim students at OC have experienced a more authentic.“They are very friendly and welcoming,” said Hassan Alhassan.
Mutual Tolerance Despite different Ideologies
LJ Littlejohn, OC’s international student advisor, told a story of true compassion experienced by a Saudi Arabian married couple overwhelmed with kindness. They came to OC having nothing, but OC’s community came together and provided an apartment, furniture, a car and help on any level. The couple ended up having a baby, and the husband ended up coming off his Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission scholarship and paying for school for a year out of his own pocket to complete the engineering program, because he had such a great experience. “I am not one of those people who believes that we need to convert everybody, but we do need to show compassionate love to the stranger,” LJ said. “I see that over and over in scripture. Scripture doesn’t tell me to find out what religion you are or how you’re practicing your faith. Scripture tells me to be nice to you — end of story.”
Similarly, Imam Jamal Rahman, a Sufi interfaith minister perfectly articulates interfaith dialogue. “Spirituality is inclusive. Spirituality points to the absolute interconnectedness of all beings, focused on oneness, unconditional love and compassion,” said Rahman. After all both religions’ core principles beseech that one practice loving one’s neighbor. It is breathtaking to see Muslim students and Christians not simply coexist with each but forge deep friendship in spite of preconceived notions.