Religion doesn’t just live in sacred books or buildings. Religion lives in people. Therefore, I believe that one of the best ways to understand Islam is to get to know its people. Knowing few Muslims, I set out to find some and ask each of them a simple question: If you had only three words to describe Islam, what would they be?
I started with Muslim students on this campus. One evening during Ramadan, I went to the kick-off meeting of the Muslim Students Association and talked to a few students. I found them very friendly, open, and sincere with their answers. The audio clip below contains answers from six students and a visiting fellow (in the order of their voices):
- Adnan, a freshman from Milwaukee who moved from Pakistan to the US with his family seven years ago
- Maria, a junior from Texas
- Zairah, a fifth-year student
- Bilal, a sophomore majoring in Economics
- Anum, a freshman from Watertown, Wisconsin
- Hening, a visiting fellow from Indonesia
- Hiba, a first-year graduate student majoring in Educational Policy
Putting all their words together, the range of themes reflects that a religion is both personal and unifying.
What words would you use to describe Islam? If you are of a different faith, do you find any word above that also describes your faith?