Tragedy spurs Muslim students
effort to bring understanding
By Fariss Samarrai
Twin Towers fell one month after Zeenat Iqbal arrived at U.Va.
as a third-year commerce student from India.
God, she thought.
by Andrew Shurtleff
is peace, says Zeenat Iqbal.
immediately sent an e-mail to her sister in New York City.
sister was OK.
next thought was, Please dont let them blame the Muslims.
Enough horror had been committed in the name of her religion.
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.
is peace, Iqbal said. That is how I have always known
people were asking her, What is jihad, and why would
anybody use religion to kill themselves and other people?
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.
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.
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
said her friends have bescome her family here, filling the vacuum
of life away from home.
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.
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.
want to help bring about a great understanding among peoples,