Photo by Victor Beck ’20 | Members of the Muslim Student Union sit together and discuss matters of faith at lunch.
By Victor Beck ’20
The Brophy Muslim Student Union is the first of its kind at Brophy, and hopes to grow community and a culture of empathy all across campus.
The Muslim Student Union offers a familiar face to the many harmful stereotypes and prejudices facing the Muslim community.
Sifraz Shah ’20 says that the club is an important place that can teach and educate people about the true nature of Islam.
“The goal of the MSU is to create a safe space for Muslim students on campus and bring together other people who aren’t practicing Muslims to come and learn about Islam. [It gives] us the opportunity to debunk many of the harmful stereotypes that exist about Muslims,” Shah said.
Sifraz describes his past experiences with bullying, and tells of times where he didn’t feel safe or comfortable talking about his faith.
“In 6th grade, I was badly bullied for my religion, I mentioned that I sat alone everyday during lunch by the teachers lounge because the bullying got so bad. After that I was scared and at the next school my parents told me to tell people I was agnostic because they didn’t want me to get bullied again,” said Shah.
For many others in the MSU, stereotypes have always been something they’ve had to deal with.
According to Xavier Student Missal Irfan ’19 there are some persistent cultural misunderstandings about women in Islam.
“There are a lot of stereotypes. I’ve discussed the belief people have thinking you have to wear a hijab or dress a certain way. I mean yes, there are cultural tendencies of how people dress, but it’s not forced, we have a choice,” said Irfan.
Similarly, she highlights the benefits of teaching other religions in a Catholic setting as a way to give people different perspectives.
“Even though this is a Catholic school I do think teaching about other religions is really important, it teaches you to be open minded and when you go into the real world. Catholicism is not the only religion,” said Irfan.
Shah expresses that the future of the Muslim Student Union seeks to include speakers outside of Brophy to help teach and share what the faith of Islam.
“By bringing in guest speakers to talk about Islam, and discussing how it relates to Brophy and other religions we can teach people what the core message of Islam is, and correct the already polluted image of Muslim identity,” said Shah.
Mr. Tom Donlan is the club moderator and echoes the importance of interfaith representation on campus.
“Catholicism is at its best when it is able to affirm its own self and its traditions while affirming and celebrating non catholic cultures and other religions,” said Donlan. I think Catholic schools are at their best when they have that diversity and welcome it and celebrate it, and portray it as another expression of God’s goodness and generosity.”