Days of Our Lives: An Inside Look at the Lives of COD’s Muslim students

Taira Alabi, Freelance Reporter

“Now I have to be careful when I leave my house” said Laraev Haque, a first year respiratory studies major at the College of DuPage.  

Haque is just one of  many Muslim students at COD. For these students, being Muslim means some may see them as representatives of terrorists shown in the media.

On Nov. 13, 2015, 130 people were killed in Paris during various terrorist attacks by radical Islamic group, the Islamic State, or ISIS. Everywhere around the world, media outlets talked about what happened in Paris and ISIS’ mission. The four-letter word had evoked a feeling of another four letter word: fear. For many like Haque, this fear extended past ISIS and would affect daily life in a way that was almost unimaginable.

According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington D.C, 0.9 percent of Americans identify as Muslim. That equals over 2 million people.

Haque, who wears a veil which covers everything but her eyes, says she and her family often fear for her safety.

“There is a lot of attention on me,” said Harque. “My mom always has to tell me not to go places alone, and now I have to be careful of who I am hanging out with and who I am talking to.”

Haque is afraid of being targeted by “islamophobia.” Islamophobia is a word, describing the fear of Islam, that Haque and so many others who share her religion are afraid could potentially hurt them. According to the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, Islamophobia “was first introduced as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and defined as ‘unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.’”

This “hostility” is something Aiman Moizuddin, a first year, undecided, Muslim student at COD, says she has experienced.

“People will roll down their windows and yell ‘go back to your own country,” Moizuddin, who wears a headscarf, says. Moizuddin was born in the U.S.

Sufiya Khan, a first year nursing major, who is Muslim, says that some of her friends who wear headscarves have parents who tell them if they worry about safety, they can take their headscarves off.

On campus, Khan, Moizuddin and Haque are all also part of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). Khan, who is an officer for the group, says the group currently has about 45 members. The MSA hosts events for its members weekly.

“The only issue is really what the media portrays us as,” Khan says.

Khan is quick to note that the media is not really portraying her, but just people who align themselves with her religion.

This sentiment of being a representative for one’s entire religion is something Moizuddin believes is just a part of being a member of a minority group.

“I feel like that is just how it is being a minority anywhere. You get labelled as if you are representing your entire race or a religion,” Moizuddin says.

Leslie Wolf, a Religious Studies and Philosophy professor, teaches a few classes at COD on Islamic Studies. Wolf says students often ask him what the Quran says about violence. Wolf says the answer to that question is “hard to fit into a soundbite.”

Regardless, he said the public should realize the same can be said with many religions, and that people should be understanding.

“Imagine what it would be like if every day you see your religion on TV and it is always linked to violence,” Wolf says.

Despite the potential of having to deal with Islamophobia, Khan, Moizuddin and Haque all say they have not experienced much hostility at COD. Khan, in particular, mentions that her non-Muslim friends at COD have been very supportive during the increased media coverage of ISIS.

“I have received an overwhelming amount of support,” Moizuddin says.