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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Merging Islam in the West: The Net, Europe, and SBU

    With the rapidly growing Muslim population worldwide, some Muslims, at least at Stony Brook University, want to re-conceptualize the relationship between their own culture and that of the West.

    ‘ “There’s been a phobia in Europe after Sept. 11 and as the Muslim population increases, [European] identity is being threatened,” said Heba Abdel, a senior at SBU.’ “They have to adjust, but it’s not Islam against the West.’ It’s Islam and the West.’

    Western bookstores are replete with titles, like Bernard Lewis’ The Crisis of Islam, that characterize Islamic and Western cultures as mutually exclusive forces competing for world domination.’ But those same stores are lacking in theses examining the compatibility of the two cultures.’

    As the cultures increasingly interact, a market for clothing that blends western fashion and Islamic dress codes is forming.’ Zareen Niazi, a sophomore at Stony Brook University, described the fusion of Western and Islamic styles as “really cute.”, an internet-based clothing manufacturer, produces clothing that combines Islamic and Western fashion.

    According to the website, the company looks for ways to make traditional attire more “suitable for Muslims who no longer live in historical Muslim lands, but rather who have settled in the West, where their needs and tastes necessarily differ.”

    As Europeans try to adjust to an Islamic influx into the continent, there have been several legal battles concerning Muslim laws.’ Most recently, Germany’s highest court ruled last month that a woman cannot be barred from teaching in a public school while wearing her veil because there were no laws prohibiting her from doing so.’

    The Statesman spoke to Muslim students following weekly Friday prayers. “Basically, Hijab [the full Islamic dress code for women] is a physical manifestation of what’s in the heart,’ said Niazi, who wears a Hijab regularly. ‘To be told to take it off or that you can’t wear it is like being told you can’t pray.’

    After the Oct. 3 service, Dina Eldarawi, a freshman who only wears Hijab for prayers, said she didn’t believe the court had the right to rule on religious issues in the first place.

    “Religion is something between you and God,” Eldarawi said. ‘It’s not something the government should tell you about.”

    But Abdel, who wears Hijab regularly, took a less cynical view of the case.’ Abdel said that the German ruling was a step in the right direction, even though it did not explicitly assert a woman’s right to wear a veil.’ “It shows how relevant Islam has become to Western s’ ‘ ociety.”‘ This German ruling educates non-Muslims about Islam, according to Abdel.

    Niazi said that raising awareness would eventually overcome the notion that Islam and the West are incompatible.’ “People fear Islam because they don’t know about it,” she said, “and people are overcoming their fears by going out and learning about it.”‘ The merging of Islam and Western cultures into a single culture seems inevitable for many Muslims at SBU.

    “I’m American and I’m Muslim,” Abdel said.

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