Ever since the Pandemic started, so many unknowns have entered our lives, more than ever before. It seems as if things that were certainties, like our fall semester in college that includes game days, hangouts, and sitting on the terrace with friends, have forever changed. With mask mandates, social distancing, and limited gatherings, the way we celebrate and socially interact is adjusting. In these times of uncertainty, I lean even more on religion as no one seems to have the answers and things are always fluctuating. Leaning on Allah (the word for God in arabic), for me during this time makes me believe it will be okay even if I don’t know what tomorrow may be like.
As a Muslim woman who was born and raised in predominantly Christian nations such as Russia and the USA, I have always interacted with those who are of different faiths. My religion of Islam has always brought me comfort in times of uncertainty, hardship, and loneliness. Whenever I have felt let down in life or alone, I have come to realize there was a being greater than me, Allah (God) who I could lean on. To me, my faith has meant hope and throughout my life I have met others who find comfort in leaning on something that is greater than them and the circumstances they are in.
This pandemic has made it harder to meet new people due to fears of contracting COVID-19. Despite these circumstances, I am excited that I will have an opportunity through the CRGC fellowship to interact and meet with new people. I am looking forward to understanding what others lean on for support in these uncertain times, and engaging in dialogues with people of different faiths. Discussing faith can be polarizing at times but I want to learn how to facilitate discussions that instead bring us to a greater understanding of one another’s faiths. Having friends who are of different faiths like Christianity, Hinduism, and other sects of Islam, I have seen how most faiths are united in their concepts of believing in a being who is greater than us, who made the world, and helps those less fortunate. Seeing the similarities in the religions I encountered, especially the ones that are monotheistic or of Abrahamic tradition, I wondered why it is so difficult to engage in respectful conversations and coexist.
This feels particularly potent for me as a Muslim, as I see my religion so often misunderstood and misrepresented, especially in the media. As a Muslim I believe we are representations of our faith and this has made me want to become a CRGC fellow, to teach others about it. Many people don’t know Muslims personally and have only heard of the religion when it has been associated with violence. This has made me feel like my faith, which has brought me so much peace and comfort and taught so much good, has been hijacked by extremists. So along with learning about other religions and belief systems, I hope to show a different perspective about my own faith while engaging in civil and respectful dialogue.
How does your faith or belief system help you navigate this pandemic? What life experiences led you to become a CRGC fellow? Growing up did you meet others of other faiths, or only hear about them in the media?