Muslim women address stereotypes, discuss Islamic perspectives

Josh Staab | Collegian Majd Alomar, graduate student in curriculum and instruction, shares her opinions on Muslim tradition with the Town Hall audience last night. The speakers of this Muslim Journeys program from left to right are: Denise Carvin, Zainab Ali, graduate student in entomology, Alomar, Dr. Fafma Radhi and program facilitator Beverley Earles.Photo credit: Josh Staab.

Do women view the hijab, the head and chest covering typically seen on Muslim or Sikh women, as an advantage or as a disadvantageous form of suppression?

This and other questions were addressed yesterday when Beverley Earles, associate director of International Programs, held a discussion exploring the various perspectives held by Muslims in the United States. The discussion was lead by Earles, while four Muslim women told their personal experiences, clearing up misconceptions and false truths surrounding the religion.

Denise Carvin, an alumna of K-State on the panel, said she considered the hijab an advantage, as it forces others to focus on the intellect of a woman as opposed to focusing on her body. Other muslim women view it as a badge of honor.

Contrary to popular belief, Islam teaches respect –– and for Muslim women, the hijab is a silent command of respect.

Despite studying computer science in England, a highly male-dominated field, Majd Alomar, graduate student in curriculum and instruction and panel member, recalled always being treated with respect, opposed to women not wearing the hijab.

“I would enter the room and the sexist jokes that were going on would stop immediadetely. They would curse sometimes in front of me, and they’d turn and apologize to me and not to the other ladies in the room,” Alomar said.

They also discussed the difference between Americanized dating and Muslim dating culture.

“Muslims don’t date like the American style of dating, like going out and having fun, because people get hurt. Muslims date for the purpose of marriage,” Carvin said.

Neurologist, Manhattan resident and panel member, Dr. Fatma A. Radhi, gave advice on how to adjust to the culture for women newly converted to Islam.

“Take it slowly,” Radhi said. “Take it gradually. You cannot just apply all of Islam all at once. First thing is the belief. If you believe in God and you believe, take the concept and then gradually apply it in your life.”

Alomar spoke about the central ideals held in Islam as well.

“[We’re] peaceful, we’re commanded to be peaceful with others, we’re commanded to treat others with respect and tolerance,” Alomar said. “We find a lot of comfort in our religion.”