Too Scared To Be Muslim On Campus?

By Zulfi Bukhari

This September a new intake of Muslim students will head towards the brave new world of university and they will be greeted by lurid newspaper headlines stating “Muslim Extremism on Campus!” and “Campus of Terror!” These stories will all be published within fresher’s week and will run in most of the national newspapers. How do I know this? Because this is what happened last year, and the year before and the one before that too.

It is simply the recycling of a report written in 2005 by Professor Anthony Glees called “Extremism on Campus”. Now why would a report published in 2005 still make headlines this year? The reason is that we now live in an age where there is a climate of fear being created through the media. It is designed to panic non-Muslims and fuel suspicion. And the subtext is to send a message to Muslims that you should keep your heads down – do not associate with any Muslim activists or groups on campus.

Who wants to be labelled an extremist? The reality is a long way from the lurid headlines, and there are a large number of organisations a Muslim fresher can join on campus. Many students gain invaluable experience and make life-long friendships through campus activism.

So what should the new fresher do? Each one of us has our own unique needs, be they spiritual, intellectual or social, and these groups offer a range of experiences. So look at the various groups and consider joining the one that appeals the most.

Don’t just join Muslim groups exclusively – become part of wider campus life and make friends with non-Muslims as well as other Muslims. Is there a Palestine Solidarity Group on campus? Have you considered getting involved with a Student Union equalities campaign, or getting elected as a delegate to the NUS Conference? Also create a balance in your life and join groups that fulfil your other interests such as sporting clubs.

However don’t rush to join every possible group. For many students it is their first independent step into the brave new world. Away from home, the fresher has to manage their whole life including, food, laundry, cleaning, budgeting, new friends and, oh yes, studying. Consider your workload and establish how much spare time you have before taking on too many commitments.

As for the much exaggerated threat of extremist recruiters there is no cause for panic. Discuss your experiences with family and friends. Stay away from any group that feels like a cult. If you disagree with the things a group stands for then stay away.

The worst thing any fresher could do is to live in fear, not join any group and live an isolated existence. Most importantly we mustn’t allow a climate of fear to exclude Muslims from participating in mainstream politics.

Finally remember we are all ambassadors for our faith and we should show those around us that they have nothing to fear - and a lot to gain - from the contributions of confident, active Muslim students.


wednesday wrote:
it's hard for parents and you'll only realise that once you have your own' ... which is true

Do you have kids yourself then? Cos otherwise how do you know that that is true?

Don't just do something! Stand there.

/Disclaimer - I have not read the article so may be totally off base.

I don't think it is about fear, but more about freedom. Before ending up at Uni, most muslims will have lived at home and had Islam "enforced" on them - potentially in manners they did not understand and/or accept.

(My mum still says/thinks "astaghfirullah!" if she sees me watching TV. According to her, TV is haraam full stop. unless it is an Islamic channel - which I refuse to watch.)

University finally gives the people a chance to decide for themselves and a lot of people will go through a backlash against what was forced upon them.

Some will adopt a lifestyle counter to Islam. Others will open their eyes, have a look around and actually learn about Islam themselves.

At this moment in time, I have come to the stage where I cannot condemn either - a lot of people who go through the "backlash period" in the end do returning to a more Islamic lifestyle and may end up far better Muslims than those that don't.

PS - I like that the paragraph sizes in the text are well considered.

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'" - David Cameron, UK Prime Minister. 13 May 2015.

Uni is one place where you can freely express yourself, one place where ppl judge you for who you are rather then the colour of your skin or what you wear. You also meet some very intelligent wonderful ppl from all walks of life. Yeah you also have the weridos lol but which place hasnt.

Personally for me uni is where decided to wear the headscarf and properly practice Islam. My uni made it easier for me to do this. When i was growing up mum did her fard by teaching me how to read the Quran and pray namaaz. Dad erm well lets see......hmmm...oh yeah he taught me how to drive and put me on his insurance :D. Islam was never forced upon me. I remember one upon a time being very much against the hijab and thinking all hijabis were s****ers. I went to a college where hijabis were getting tippy on vodka in the toilets, smoking and dating. Its only when i went to uni that i saw good practicing hajabis. I finally realised thats its not the hijab that makes the person but the person that makes the hijab (if that makes any sense). It wasnt easy taking the step to wear the hijab and got to admit was pretty scared about what ppls reactiosn would be. When i finally did pluck up the courage my non muslism friends were cool about it, everyone at work was asking. Mum is the only one till this day that has some difficulty accepting the hijab, me attending religious talks and chatting to practicing muslims.

Anyway back to the subject uni is a great place, great ppl, opens your mind.

No not the gum drop buttons! – Gingy

You wrote:

PS - I like that the paragraph sizes in the text are well considered.


Don't just do something! Stand there.

Right, I'm looking forward to Uni!

Chin up, mate! Life's too short.