The Candor

Know Thy Neighbor: Muslim Student Association Creates Space for Interfaith Dialogue

Nabiha Asim

Staff Writer

An interfaith dialogue, organized by the Muslim Student Association as a part of Islam Awareness Week, held in Goodwin 411 Monday, February 27 was joined by a Muslim, a Catholic, an Atheist and a Hindu to explore to the common principle of what it means to know your neighbor.

Throughout the dialogue, topics such as unity, diversity, giving voice to the voiceless and making change happen were discussed.  Also, while discussing some of the chaos that has happened, the panelists noted that in the midst of it all, there is a surge of good bringing people together.

Panelist, Anne Marie Smith, said she keeps a countdown to the next election date on her phone to help her feel better and to remind her to not wait for the administration to change, but to work together to bring the change.

“Good things are happening from this awfulness and the only constant is change and although this may seem awful, change will happen again, guaranteed,” said Smith.

To forward that change, Carrie Roberts from the campus ministry, following the Catholic Social Teaching Principle, which guides Catholics on how to live their lives and interact with their neighbors, said she reflects on the term ‘solidarity.’

“For me as a Catholic, what it means to me to live out my faith is to be encountering my neighbor as Jesus calls me to encounter my neighbor with love and mercy. Solidarity is essentially from the tradition that I’m speaking from is that my joys become my neighbor’s joys, and my neighbor’s joys become my joys, and my neighbors sorrows are my sorrows, and my sorrows are my neighbor’s sorrows. So I love this conversation that we’re having right now because every single piece of it is calling me to be in solidarity with my neighbor; with my neighbors that are experiencing discrimination, with my neighbors who are going to the airport to be in solidarity too. So I need to reflect on myself personally, what ways I am spiritually being in solidarity with my neighbor too,” stated Roberts.

Just as knowing your neighbor is a vital component of Catholicism, according to Roberts, the dialogue was a way for the Muslim Student Association to show the worth of a neighbor in Islam as well says MSA secretary, Maimoona Fatima. For Fatima, this principle exceeds to a personal level.

“There’s a hadith about how the neighbor has a right on you, and that’s from the Prophet Mohammad (saw). If your neighbor is in trouble, you go and try to help them, if you see them in distress, you see if they are okay… One time my grandma had to be taken in the ambulance and what I  saw was neighbors that weren’t Muslims were came and knocked on our door and asked if we were ok and needed help or if we needed money. And the next thing you know, same thing happened to our neighbor and our instant reaction was to go make sure they’re ok …Neighbors are your extended family,” stated Fatima.


Vice President of MSA, Abdul Rahman Damra, brought up a point that since President Trump got elected, there has been an increase in hate crimes and discrimination against minorities in America, but despite the ongoing hatred, the panelists spoke of hope and events that demonstrate love and support for one another.

Panelist, Imam Abdullah Madyun, said people have been conditioned to want to defeat one another and this ideology has created xenophobia. While reading a verse from the Qur’an, Madyun’s answer to countering xenophobia and hatred is by recognizing the faults of Americans as a whole and understanding and appreciating each other’s differences.

“I’m not supposed to look at you and see the extraordinary, phenomenal difference, and say that’s a problem…We’re supposed to be intrigued by difference. But, there is this evil force that seams this type of phobia, so now when I look at you, you’re white, I’m black and think that’s a problem. And there’s evil people and continuously nurture and reiterate this. We fall for this exploitation…We have a responsibility to be a vicegerent on earth. We’re not supposed to be at war with each other, we’re supposed to be taking care of things and making sure things are well…for the future,” said Madyun.