Understanding Islam: GV Muslims looking for understanding and acceptance

**Names and school title have been changed for anonymity**
 

                GV’s population is made up of students with many different religious beliefs ranging from typical popular Christian faiths to the Jewish student organization. However, there is a very small percentage of students on campus that identify as Muslims, or followers of the Islamic faith.

                Islam is a monotheistic religion just like Judaism and Christianity. It believes in the same prophets as Christians with one exception being the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe Muhammad was a prophet and a messenger, like Moses and Jesus, who spread the word of God through scripture. Two key differences between Christianity and Islam is Islam believes God has no sons and their book is the Holy Quran.

                “Muslims don’t worship a different God than Christians or Jews worship. It’s the same deity, however in Islam you’ll hear God being referred to as Allah, which is literally the Arabic translation of the term God,” Amoon, leader of the GVSU Student Muslim Association said.

                Amoon takes her religion very seriously and considers it her way of life.

                “One of the most importantly daily lessons is the importance of serving God in everything you do,” Amoon said. “When we pray we serve God; when we do charity we serve God; when we are kind to others it’s also a form of service to god.”

                Three members of the Muslim Students Association have all had incidents with bullying and discrimination because of their religion and all three believe that the media gives their religion a bad reputation. This group doesn’t only get together to pray and discuss their religion but also in hopes to clear the negative stereotypes that go along with Islam.

                “Often times the religion of Islam is portrayed very negatively in the media so it leaves very little room for question and a lot of room for anger and fear,” Amoon said.

                Because of the negative portrayal Muslims are given in the media in America, Amoon has faced blatant discrimination while wearing her hijab (headscarf).

                “I have had a professor who stated that he believes Muslims are uneducated and extreme terrorists,” Amoon said. “The one thing I wish people knew about Islam is that they probably have more similarities with Muslims than they think they do.”

                Amoon isn’t the only Muslim on campus to deal with discrimination. Sokina has also dealt with it but she has her own way of fighting back.

                “In the media I have read about people who are hateful towards Islam and Muslims, deeming us to be incompetent, oppressed and ignorant and this only made me love my religion more,” Sokina said. “After that I began wearing the hijab to show I’m a Muslim. I wear it to show that I’m an educated Muslim woman who is not oppressed, who’s capable of making her own decisions, and who isn’t violent. I wear it to be a living, breathing example of Islam.”

                Zaineb, another member of the Student Muslim Association, also wishes outsiders and the media wouldn’t judge them for their religion.

                “I used to have a bully whose parents rotted his brain into thinking that all Muslims and Arabs were terrorists,” Zaineb said. “But now that he’s older and more educated about the people and the religion he’s actually a good friend of mine.”

                Despite being judged for her religion Zaineb still embraces it daily.

                “Whatever decisions I make during my day, I think ‘God is watching, is this something I should be doing?’” Zaineb said. “Islam gives me boundaries to live within because of that and comfort when I need it. It’s a peaceful religion, contrary to what the media has portrayed it.” 

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Human Superiority

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” -Animal Farm-George Orwell

So, let me start off with a question: Are animals equal to humans? 
To answer this question, we should define ‘equal,’ which is “to be the same in quality and ability.” 
We should also define ‘animal,’ which is “a living organism characterized by voluntary movement.”
So, do animals have the same qualities, and abilities as humans? 

According to the proper definition of animal, humans are animals, also. So what gives humans superiority over the rest of the species? 
Some might answer this with the argument that animals don’t reason, and aren’t as intelligent as we are, therefore it’s okay to treat them inhumanely. 
However, it would be wrong to think that animals DON’T reason, and aren’t intellectual. Animals react emotionally to situations in the same way humans would.
If they’re too hot or too cold they seek appropriate shelter, if they’re afraid they take the fight or flight approach, if they’re happy or grieving they have a way of showing us.
How would animals, such as deer, pigs, cows, or fish, even, be able to survive if they didn’t think?
Even if it were the case that animals didn’t think, would it still be acceptable to violate their rights?
For example: There are some very seriously mentally retarded people that can’t think on the same level as an average human can. If it was okay to kill and eat animals because they couldn’t think, then it should be all right to kill and eat these seriously mentally retarded persons, right?

There is no fundamental difference between humans and the higher mammals in their mental faculties” -Charles Darwin

What mammals did Darwin consider to be ‘higher’? Taking a look at animal cognition studies, there are many mammals that are similar to humans mentally, socially, and internally. Monkeys, for example, have a neuron system that mirrors those in humans. Chimps are able to understand emotions associated with different facial expressions, and pig hearts are similar in size and make up to those of humans, and are even, in extreme cases, the valves are used to replace defects in humans. Studies have shown that pigs, cows, and chickens have the same mental capacity as dogs (which is that of a two-four year old child). If animals are similar to us on so many levels, why are people tossing them by the bucket full into rivers? Or worse yet, why do we slaughter them for consumption every single day?

Getting into the issue of animal slaughterhouses and factory farming is another issue that I’ll get into another time.
But my point is, why do we treat animals, who have the same mental capacity as a toddler, so inhumanely? 
Shouldn’t they have the same rights we do? Just because they cannot communicate themselves, doesn’t give us any right to act cruelly to those who are ‘inferior’ to us. 
We should be protecting the rights of those who cannot protect it themselves..not violating them.