Post Classifieds

Organization dispels Muslim misconceptions

By Adam Troxtell
On January 26, 2010

There are nine religiously affiliated student groups at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Seven of them fit the usual religious group associated with Texas: Christianity. One of them, Catholicism, is seen throughout Latin America, just to the south. The other represents a religion not usually associated with the southern United States.

The Muslim Student Association was first registered as a student organization in July of 2007. According to the organization's profile page on the university website, it serves to "show our school, peers, and community that Muslim students are just like other regular students that attend this University."

Monsuru Gaji, who came to A&M-Commerce in the fall of 2008, has recently been named the newest president of MSA. He said the organization serves not only to bring Muslim students together but also to give students the opportunity to learn about Islam.

"I want to get the student body involved, because there is a lot that people don't know about the Muslim Student Association," he said. "We're just like everybody else. We're going through the same classes, going through the same situations."

Gaji's parents are from Nigeria, and he was born in Houston. He then moved to Richardson, where he found a Muslim community.

"When I moved to Richardson, I would go to the mosque and it was really diverse," he said. "There's actually a white culture within Richardson that are Muslim. It's one of those types of things you really can't tell. Anybody can be one."

When he came to A&M-Commerce, Gaji met MSA co-founder, and president at the time, Rhema Al-Hayek. Her younger sister, Donia Al-Hayek, also goes to the university, and is a part of the MSA.

"We have papers we give people, and people ask us questions about [Islam]," Donia Al-Hayek said. "I think it's helpful for everybody. Even if they already know about the religion, they may have myths that you have to clear up for them."

Donia Al-Hayek, an accounting major, also came to A&M-Commerce in fall of 2008, having grown up in Emory. While her father was born and raised as a Muslim in Jordan, her mother is American and has a Christian background.

"Muslims and Christians are a lot alike," Donia Al-Hayek said. "There are just small differences, really. My mom went to both [churches], and so did my dad."

She said the MSA is beneficial to anyone, as it can be an educational tool. Donia Al-Hayek wants to see the organization do more to tell people about the religion and eliminating the stereotypes some students may have.

"I think we could do better about telling people about Islam," she said. "Muslims are everywhere in every country, so you have a diverse group. I think people are scared to ask questions. When you give them knowledge, like offer it to them, then people seem more open. I think we can do better at putting it out there."

Gaji also would like the MSA to do more to teach students about Islam.

"I guess I don't fit what a typical Muslim would look like, and since I'm black I just blend in with everybody else," he said. "I haven't faced any persecution, but since people don't know they will say certain things around me and I will be like ‘Hey, hold on.' I think there are a lot of misconceptions because of the media. We're Americans first, Muslims second."

Aside from featuring MSA at Mane Event and International Student Day, Gaji said he hopes to do more events like the Arabian Night at the Club put on last semester.

"This semester what we're going to focus less on is the religion but more on the culture and have people see and appreciate something they may have not seen before," he said.

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Recent The East Texan News Articles

Discuss This Article



East Texan readers should know that Houston LASIK specialist, Dr. Amjad Khokar, member of the Texas Medical Association, is a LASIK surgeon in Houston offering the most advanced LASIK technology and experience, providing a safe LASIK surgery.

Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Please Select Your College/University:

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format