Alabama’s close-knit, predominantly Christian community is a home for Troy University. Its international program brings people from all over the globe and of all faiths into Troy. These include many Muslim students who are adapting to the Bible Belt lifestyle.
“I don’t think there is much difference in terms of living between Christianity and Islam,” said Asem Yasser, a freshman global business major from Alexandria, Egypt. “Apart from the belief itself, in terms of morality and everyday life, we are very similar.”
Yasser also said that the people at Troy University provided him with support to adjust between the two cultures. “I get to practice my religion freely,” he said.
Neha Panjwani, a freshman social development major from Karachi, Pakistan, said that coming to the United States and adjusting to the culture wasn’t a hassle either, crediting her ease to the internet and global media.
“When I came here, I didn’t get much of a culture shock because I had seen this through media and serials on TV,” Panjwani said. “I have followed 12 to 15 American shows in my lifetime and wanted to experience the culture depicted firsthand.”
Like Yasser, Panjwani also said that there are few differences between the culture and their everyday lifestyle, except for the food.
“There is no Halal food on campus, so I survive on fries and pizzas mostly,” Panjwani said.
Islam encourages consumption of Halal meat, or meat that has been blessed. In other words, the animal is prayed over before being sacrificed for consumption.
“We have a restaurant here, Shish Kabab; it’s a good place for Halal meat,” said Mohammed Alsaid, a senior global business major from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In talking about his experience over the years, Alsaid commented that the exposure to Islam had made people more open-minded about the religion.
“I do represent myself as a good follower (of Islam),” Alsaid said. “I tell them who I am and where I am from because that cannot be a secret. I have become close to many people from here who had reservations before. But knowing my religion, not by something they had seen or read but rather through me, I’ve made many close friends today.”
Yasser also shared his opinion on the ongoing global crisis of terrorism and its common association with the people of the Islamic religion.
“Islam comes from the word ‘peace,’” Yasser said. “In the words of prophet himself: he’s said a Muslim is the one who the people around him would not be harmed by his tongue or by his hand (actions).
“There have been terrorists who have been Muslims, but I don’t believe any person sick enough to kill believes in any religion no matter what it is. And I don’t believe that these people have any religion. It is insulting, and it is offending. It is very misleading. Islam is all about peace and love.”