Sophomore MostafaAbdallah sees a rising number of Muslims at Cary High School, where he was an officer of the Muslim student group."And those people will be coming to college in a few years."
room for midday prayers a few days a
week, and Friday prayers at midday (the
Sunday sermon of Islam) are held in the
hospital chapel, but there is no central
place to gather for the others. They use
the top of a stairwell, a spot between two
bookshelves in the library.
And there are other complications:
Exams, athletic competitions and other
events that require focus and energy
sometimes fall during Ramadan, when
students must fast from sunrise to sunset.
Another challenge is determining an
appropriate level of interaction between
the sexes on a coed campus.
"There's a lot of gray matter," Maroof
said."It also depends on how you're
raised. Some women won't talk to guys at
all, outside of classes and group meetings."
Many students interpret it a little more
loosely; it's OK to go out in a big group
to a movie or to eat with members of
both genders, as long as intimate situations are avoided. Others end up jettisoning tlle rule altogether.
But most downplay the difficulty of
complying with their faith.
"The tlung is, you're M uslim 2417 ,"
Siddiqui said. "Your relationship with God
precedes everything. Islam is a way oflife.
And it can be difficult at times, but ifyou
really follow any faith, it can be hard."
America's response to the events of Sept.
11 build bridges of understanding
between Islamic nations and the United
States, as it has built them on the campus?
Or will the situation worsen?
This is a particularly poignant and personal question for these students; many have
relatives in areas likely to be affected by the
war on terrorism - Pakistan, Syria, Egypt,
Iran. Many have visited those countries, and
they have answered countless questions
about what it is like to live in America.
But they've also had to answer
tougher que tions, particularly about US.
policies in the Middle East. "No one I've
ever talked to in the Middle East has
hated Americans," Alkhaldi said."A lot of
them are just upset about the foreign pol-
icy. Everyone in the Middle East has been
affected one way or another by US.
foreign policy;' In particular, he said, many
Syrians are horrified by the deaths of
children in Iraq as a result of US. sanctions and by Israeli use ofUS.-manufac-tured weap011lY in the ongoing struggle
with the Palestinians, places they view as
their own backyards. "They just feel it
hard, and tlley want to know, how can we
here in Anlerica let this happen.
"It's hard to answer something like that:'
Alkhaldi and others with ties in the
Middle East hope the US. is successful in
rooting out the current sources ofterror-ism, so they can feel safe in their own
country. But they also hope that the U.S.
response will strengthen the ties between
the Islamic world and Anlerica - the
key, they believe, both for preventing
future acts of violence and preventing
them from having to get on a soap box to
defend their faith and their patriotism.
"I would much rather talk about what
Islam reveres than what it prohibits," said
Maroof "What it prohibits, as any Muslim student will tell you, are senseless acts
of violence carried out against innocent,
defenseless people." nl
The challenge to understand
In fact, in the wake of the attacks, tlle
act of balancing school and 1s1anl seems
easy when compared with some of the
new questions they have to face. Will
REBECCA MORPHIS ' 97 ('01 MA) is afree-
lm'ue writer based in Chapel Hill. Her articles for
the Review il1clude afeature ill the September!
October issue about Carolina~ honor code.
C AROLINA A LUMN I R EVIEW