Amid rising Islamophobia, Muslim students show greater tendencies towards interfaith goodwill, a recent survey suggests.
by Saba Aziz
Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to attend college in the United States.
As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into student life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was often asked about the conflict and life in Syria.
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The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said.
“The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.
Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misunderstood and stereotyped.
Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen]
“I don’t want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.