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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A peaceful perspective

Photo by Photo by: Alexis Will

Muddasir Tai, Shahd Elbushra and Salman Munir are all leaders of Muslim organizations hoping to dispel the belief that Islam promotes violence.

Muslim organizations on campus have shifted their focus to dispel the notion that Islam is synonymous with the Islamic State Group, also known as ISIS, in light of recent attacks on Paris and San Bernardino.
The A&M Muslim Student Association and the A&M Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association both work to inform the public about Islam and conduct community service events in the name of the Islamic faith. Salman Munir, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association and biology sophomore, said through campaigns like “Stop the CrISIS” and “Muslims for Life,” the primary goal of the organization is to challenge the belief that Islam promotes violence.
“Basically it’s for us to come out and take a stance against ISIS and to try and to show that the things they do are not what true Muslims believe and not what our practices tell us to do and not what the Quran teaches us,” Munir said.
Shahd Elbushra, president of MSA and news reporter for The Battalion, said while the original purpose of MSA when it began in the 1980s was to generally inform people about Islam, recent terrorist attacks have caused the organization’s goals to shift.
“People’s images of Islam after 9/11 have completely changed, and things happening now around the world with ISIS and the Paris and California shootings — that’s the image people have of Islam,” Elbushra said. “So our main focus right now is clarifying that and creating a safe space for people to come and ask questions to matter what they may be.”
After the Dec. 2 San Bernardino shooting, Munir’s mother and sister called him to urge him to be safe and stay out of the spotlight.
“I think that’s really hard because Islam has been part of my life for so long, and it’s hard when even your own mother is telling you to slow down, because then you lose that sense of identity you have,” Munir said. “And I’ve heard of friends of mine who have stopped shaving their beards or sisters who stopped wearing headscarves, and that makes them lose their sense of identity.”
Adam Nadeem, Class of 2015 and former member of AMSA, said the biggest problem Muslims face is closed-minded people.
“Since 9/11 it’s been particularly hard for Muslims to get their point across as far as what their religion really means without people having that wall that says, ‘Okay, you can tell me about your religion but I’m going to listen with a filter,’” Nadeem said.
Nadeem’s fiancee, Sana Rahman, Class of 2014, said organizations such as AMSA and MSA have to pick up the pieces ISIS leaves behind.
“It’s like clean up now,” Rahman said. “It’s really hard and sad that we have to go the extra mile to say, ‘Hey, we’re not a part of that and we shouldn’t be accused of that.’”
As part of its goal of educating the community about Islam, the MSA holds outreach tables regularly in the MSC to give out information about the religion. Muddassir Tai, education officer for MSA and mechanical engineering junior, said occasionally someone will approach the table with a negative attitude.
“Any time somebody does this I tell them one thing: Somebody can claim to be Muslim and can be doing whatever, and that doesn’t mean that’s what Islam is,” Tai said. “For example, if an Aggie commits a crime somewhere, does that mean that’s what A&M supports? No.”
Salah Ayari, associate professor of Arabic Studies and member of the Muslim Faculty Network, an organization that provides support for Muslim faculty at A&M, said some of the Muslim faculty serves as mentors to organizations like MSA to support its efforts.
“As their advisor, I’ve seen many members of the Muslim Student Association putting their words into action by taking the time to serving their community, such as distributing food and clothing to the needy people downtown,” Ayari said. “In this toxic political environment, Muslims everywhere are realizing the importance of living up to the true values of their religion in order to counter the message of the extremists.”

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