May 16-22 2003
Back Issues
Bond, Morse, Terry win 2003 Sullivan Awards
Advocate for diversity leads by example
Finals factoids
Music major creates programs for local schools

Tragedy spurs Muslim student’s effort to bring understanding

Finding history among the trees
Community through architecture
Moving toward a more inclusive environment
Jobe leads with faith, activism
Exploring vast worlds with Harrison Awards
Harvey blends work, study with passion for civic participation
Designing women sow success
Merging technology, music and art
From one-room school to athletic field
Persistence pays for Ukrainian student
Swimmer sets her eyes on Olympic event
Firefighting ideal job for Jefferson Scholar
Pruett’s ready to deploy, but not to leave her kids
Cancer survivor helps others

Tragedy spurs Muslim student’s effort to bring understanding

By Fariss Samarrai

The Twin Towers fell one month after Zeenat Iqbal arrived at U.Va. as a third-year commerce student from India.

“My God,” she thought.

Zeenat Iqbal
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
“Islam is peace,” says Zeenat Iqbal.

She immediately sent an e-mail to her sister in New York City.

Her sister was OK.

Iqbal’s next thought was, “Please don’t let them blame the Muslims.” Enough horror had been committed in the name of her religion.

That Friday Iqbal went to the Muslim mosque in Charlottesville and prayed for the victims. She had to do something. And she realized that doing something included speaking about her religion to anybody who would listen.

“Islam is peace,” Iqbal said. “That is how I have always known it.”

But people were asking her, “‘What is jihad, and why would anybody use religion to kill themselves and other people?’”

With time, she eventually would answer, “People who would kill in the name of Islam have a misunderstanding of the meaning of the religion. They are taking passages from the Quran out of context.”

The Islam Iqbal knows is about one God, justice and equality. It is her moral foundation, the comforting and familiar ground she seeks in a difficult world.
“In India I took my religion for granted,” she said. “But here I turned toward it to support myself and the morals I was brought up with, and it has helped me to focus on succeeding here. I practice my religion in my daily life.”

Iqbal has found many friends at U.Va., both Muslim and non-Muslim Americans and other international students. She joined the Muslim Students Association, which she said is dedicated to bringing understanding between the religions, and she has worked on a number of interfaith projects toward this purpose.

Iqbal said her friends have bescome her family here, filling the vacuum of life away from home.

“U.Va. has been so supportive to the Muslim community,” she said. “The administration and University Police have been protective, and the teach-ins have been helpful. People want to understand Islam and are seeking to learn more.”

Iqbal said events of the last couple of years have changed her own goals. She has since taken several history and religious studies courses and hopes to attend law school.

“I want to help bring about a great understanding among peoples,” she said.



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