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Opinion Relays Edition

Voices of religion: Islam

Nasir is a first-year actuarial science major and can be contacted at initsar.nasir@drake.edu.

Islam is obviously not among the unheard religions of the world; in fact, it is the second largest. The followers of Islam, Muslims, believe in the oneness of God. That God is incomparable; He created the world within which human beings live. His prophet Muhammad brought this religion into the world through the Quran, the religious text of Islam.

Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus. While there are many sects within Islam with varying beliefs over various aspects, this is the fundamental belief of all Muslims.

Being a Muslim and growing up in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, my exposure to how people from different faiths would react to me being a Muslim was fairly minimal. Almost every person I ever encountered in my life was a Muslim. The ideology of many was basically that one had to be a Muslim. Coming to the United States, a country with diverse religious beliefs, was an exciting prospect.

However, I had my fair share of fears coming to the United States as a Muslim. This was largely due to the recent animosity between America and the Muslim world. I feared I would face discrimination from American people if I mentioned that I was a Muslim, and that it would be an issue I would have to deal with quite often. I feared socializing with people would be a problem as well. I was afraid that Americans wouldn’t welcome a Muslim into their lives, and that I wouldn’t make many American friends.

From what I have experienced living at Drake, I can conclude that religion is not an issue for most people. I have come across Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, Deists and fellow Muslims. So far, I haven’t been bothered by their beliefs, and mine haven’t bothered them.

In the beginning, when I had conversations with people from my floor about my beliefs, it was nerve-wracking. But once I decided to open up and be straightforward, I found out there was nothing to worry about. In fact, conversations became longer than ever. On one occasion, I spent over an hour with my resident assistant in the dining hall discussing our beliefs.

Nobody has been offensive, and everyone has respected each other’s views. Even if one’s belief contradicts the others, no one becomes upset. At least this is what I feel. The atmosphere is more than accepting — frankly, no one cares what you believe!

The religious tolerance I have experienced after coming to Drake has been very appealing. As a doctrine, I would hope it would spread to the rest of the world.

Freedom of religion is a right of every human being. Differentiating amongst each other on the basis of belief is unnecessary and unacceptable. I hope I can pass on this enlightening experience to the people elsewhere where religious tolerance is limited.


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