Faisal Hanjra (pictured), President of the Federation of Students' Islamic Societies (FOSIS), writes a column for the Student Times on the intense and unjustified scrutiny that university Islamic societies currently find themselves facing.
'The news of Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab’s alleged failed bomb attempt has sent shockwaves on both sides of the Atlantic. Some, however, are more disconcerted by the fact he was a former Islamic Society President. Yet nobody is more shocked than Islamic Societies themselves, who not only consider such actions antithetical to the most basic principles of Islam, but who are once again under scrutiny for a crime they did not commit. There remain many unknowns surrounding AbdulMutallab’s road to radicalism; but it would be a mistake to begin vilifying campuses as ‘hotbeds of extremism’.'
‘For students high on purpose and eager for change, university Islamic Societies continue to be active, engaging and transformational bodies. For many Muslim students, interaction with their Islamic Society may be basic; people to offer prayers with, break their fast with, and perhaps learn a little more about their religion. For others, it can be a haven from the binge drinking culture that dominates student life. At these basic levels, Islamic Societies continue to be an essential aspect of student life for many Muslim students, fulfilling their spiritual and welfare needs.
‘More than ever today, Islamic Societies are engaging Muslim students with mainstream society; the participation of Muslim students in their Student Unions and diverse campaigns continues to grow, with many London Islamic Societies last year hosting ‘Green Weeks’ to highlight the importance of environmentalism in Islam. Muslim students, responding to the Qur’anic command to ‘stand out firmly for justice’ (4:135), can be seen in every level of campaigning, from (more recently) feminist and social issues, to human rights, international law, ethical investment and affordable education.
‘Of course, like all student societies, not every Islamic Society is an institution of progression and flag-bearing contribution and we must acknowledge the few occurrences of insularity, or perceived difference. Though how can subjecting innocent young people, many of whom are still only in their teens, to intense scrutiny do anything but further the problems of marginalisation; what strategic or moral benefit can be had from demonising them?’
Read the full article here.
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