Even though Wartburg is a Lutheran college not all of the students who attend Wartburg practice that particular religion. While the Catholic religion is similar to the Lutheran in beliefs and in practice, Muslim students at Wartburg have a little harder time when it comes to their religious practices.
Because of the more rigorous rituals that Muslims practice, it can be hard to preform certain aspects such as praying five times a day as well celebrating Ramadan. Abdul Aldarwish, a Wartburg student who grew up in Saudi Arabia, participates in Ramadan but finds the experience more difficult at Wartburg then back home.
“During Ramadan, back home everyone is fasting but here all of your friends eat and smoke and it’s difficult. It’s hard but I adapt to it,” said Aldarwish.
There are also some misconceptions about the Muslim holiday. During the full month of Ramadan, from May 15 to June 14, the Muslim people fast from sunrise to sunset. Aldarwish said that it can be a little confusing to non-Muslim students at Wartburg.
Muslims also pray five times a day but because of class times it can be difficult to pray. Wartburg does offer the Lilly Reflection Room, which allows any student an area for prayer, which is very beneficial to Muslim students.
“We have our own “Sunday”, it’s on Friday. From 11:30 to 2:30 depending on the sun, which is class time so we try to meet when we can,” said Aldarwish.
For female Muslims the hijab shows their pride for their religion. Yusar Malik is the only student at Wartburg who wears the hijab and takes immense pride in wearing it.
“I was nervous about coming here because I wasn’t sure how people would react. I knew there wasn’t anyone else who wore the hijab here at Wartburg. The last person who wore one was eight years ago and she decided to take it off,” said Malik.
She said that everyone at Wartburg has been very nice and welcoming. She doesn’t regret coming here and believes that having the physical representation of her religion has made students more open to learn about the Islam religion.
Malik choose to start wearing the hijab six years ago to bring her closer to her religion. While the misconception is that the hijab is a way the Muslim religion is a sign of oppression to women, Malik said that a lot of women choose to wear it.
“No one in my family actually wears the hijab. I loved how it looked. It forces people to not just look at you for your looks but also for your intelligence and your character,” said Malik.
She also finds the hijab as way to educate people about her religion and opens up a lot of discussion about the Islam religion. When she first started to wear it in middle school, she used it as a way to introduce her religion to fellow students and also used it as a way to become closer to her beliefs.
“Most people base Muslims and Islam in what they see in the media and a lot in what they show isn’t a good portrayal. I don’t think people realize that Islam is a religion of peace and we promote equality,” said Malik.
With the false light the media portrays on the Muslim community, especially during the Trump campaign, it has been a scary experience for a woman to wear the hijab. Malik’s parents suggested that she might want to take the hijab off in order to ensure her safety, Malik decided to keep wearing it.
“I’ve never thought about taking it off because it is who I am and I would feel weird not having it on,” said Malik.
Malik believes that the more people become educated about other religions we can get closer to achieving world peace.