Muslim students dispel misconceptions about Islam caused by Islamic State

Erin Zaranec

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed at least 132 people Friday night.

Kent State’s Muslim Students’ Association is hosting an Interfaith Prayer Vigil Thursday to honor the victims.

Members said they have seen an increase in discrimination against Islam due to increased media coverage of the Islamic State, especially after the attacks in Paris.

Freshman applied engineering major Ibrahim Albadri said he believes the Islamic State is not a religious group but a political group misrepresenting Islamic ideals to justify its actions.

Albadri said in an interview last week that he struggles with certain aspects of American media that portray the Islamic State as a segment of the Islam religion.

“(The Islamic State) has a different way of trying to maintain power,” he said. “They advertise the fact that they have guns, they have weapons, they advertise violence. Say there are 16,000 of them, or even 30,000 (members of the Islamic State). That doesn’t even represent 0.05 percent of those who practice Islam.”

Members of the group said they have increasingly been objected to stereotypes based on their religion over the last few years.

Amanda Lamadanie, a senior psychology major and MSA president, said she does not focus on the discrimination she has experienced as a result of her religion.

“I have definitely encountered (stereotypes) but…there are a lot of stories out there about things people have encountered that are much worse than anything I have encountered in my own life,” Lamadanie said in an interview last week. “I really try not to focus on any of those things and would much rather just talk about what Islam is versus what it isn’t.”

Lamadanie said Kent State’s MSA has 15 regular members but Muslim and non-Muslim students are welcome to attend meetings throughout the year.

“(Our goal for MSA this year) was to create a culture of devotion, character, knowledge, community and service,” Lamadanie said.

Sophomore chemistry major Dania Saleh said MSA provides a space to discuss the role of Islam in her life and allows her to stay in touch with her religion.

“Islam is just something that is integrated into my life now,” Saleh said. “It isn’t something I necessarily have to put effort into, but having MSA is also a really good support system, and it allows me to discuss thoughts and ideals that I wouldn’t talk about on a daily basis.” 

The majority of MSA members were born into Muslim families and have been practicing Islam their entire lives. 

Other members of the MSA echoed Albadri’s frustration with the misconceptions of the Islam religion.

“The one thing that I honestly wish would happen more is people asking me questions,” said Ruba Abu-Amara, a freshman psychology major. “I would rather have people be curious about Islam and maybe not fully understand it and approach me with those questions. That is much, much better than just assuming the worst and assuming we are associated with violence and terror.”

Erin Zaranec is a student life reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].