Muslim Society

Peace through positive community action fuels campus group

October 15, 2013
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​Atieh Sadraei, a junior at WPI, is a Muslim woman who wears a head scarf.

But contrary to what some think, she said, her apparel does not symbolize oppression or an inability to think independently.

In fact, she said, the situation is quite the opposite.

Her choice to wear a head scarf “is supposed to give me liberty to go into society and not be seen as an object. This is my decision: To dress the way I want. Part of my identity is to be modest.’’

“We’re trying to establish events to bring the community together,’’ he said. “We want to lead by example.’’

As vice president of the WPI Muslim Society, Sadraei, a biomedical engineering major, understands that some people misunderstand her Islam religion.  The values of her religion are “to be patient, be kind, be courteous … Treat everyone as you would like to be treated.’’

Those gentle values clash violently with terrorist acts performed in the name of her religion. “It’s awful to think that someone could take this book and interpret it this way,’’ she said. “This is not what Islam is about. Islam is about peace.’’

Muslim Society president Ahmad Abojaradeh agrees. “We’re more bothered by these people’’ who commit horrific violence in the name of Islam than by people having negative feelings toward Muslims based on reports of those attacks.

“They’re ruining the image of Muslims everywhere,’’ Sadraei said of the terrorists.

The society’s president and vice president, along with the 50 to 60 society members, could expend their energy explaining that terrorists give their religion a bad name and that Muslims are peaceful people.

Instead, they choose to show it by their actions.

“We’re trying to establish events to bring the community together,’’ he said. “We want to lead by example.’’

Reaching out to others with compassion and kindness is “the biggest way to counteract’’ the negative stereotypes, Sadraei said. “Actions speak louder than words.’’

The society has worked to develop events that the entire school community could attend, including an upcoming program on mental health issues that affect a campus community.

The society selects one community service project per semester. They have helped at soup kitchens, participated in Build Worcester Day, and supported Boston Children’s Hospital by distributing hot chocolate.

Abojaradeh works three jobs and hopes that his visibility will help “show everyone that we are part of this campus.’’

“We’re there for everyone, whether they are Muslim or not,’’ he said. “We’re hoping to do things that matter to all students.’’

They are also there for each other. “I love that there are other Muslim students on campus that I can connect with,’’ Sadraei said.

The group meets Friday nights, a time Sadraei eagerly awaits. The rest of the week fills fast with classes, studying, and other activities. The Friday meetings serve as “a reminder to go back to the Koran, to remember the values that are important to us.’’

The group is open to all Muslim students, no matter how religious they are, Abojaradeh said. “We all just leave everything behind’’ at their meetings, he said. “It’s a safe place to talk about things.’’

By Sandy Quadros Bowles