Emory’s Muslim Students Association (MSA), a religious, social, cultural and educational organization that facilitates the practice of Islam in the Emory community, launched the #CountOnMe social media campaign to celebrate the diversity of the Emory Muslim community. Each day of the month of February, a Muslim student or alumnus of the Emory community has been featured on the MSA Facebook page, as well as on a daily blog where they post about their religious identity.
The goal of the stories that the students and alumnus tell is to express the diversity of experiences within the Muslim community at Emory and exemplify how these richly varied stories bring together a group of individuals, each of whom contribute to the multitude of perspectives on campus.
Formative stories — those that featured — shared throughout this month include College freshman Sundus Tameez’s story of wearing the hijab and how, during high school, wearing this garment helped her to dispel many stereotypes held by her peers and teachers regarding Islam.
Third-year Emory Law student, Ahmad El-Gendi, wrote about how he views his fellow worshippers as a part of his extended family. Many stories detail other kinds of experiences that have formed the identities of Muslim students in the Emory community.
Oxford MSA’s Events Chair sophomore Naveed Noordin shared his account of immigrating from Pakistan to the United States at the age of 13 and how he was originally scared in this new environment, but now thanks God for the opportunity he has to live and study in the United States.
Emory Medical School Resident Farah Khan reflected on the role of Bollywood movies in South Asian society and how that same role has drawn her in. MSA’s Chief of Staff, College junior Maheen Nadeem, wrote about her love of scuba diving.
All of these stories were selected to celebrate the personal perspectives of Muslim students, professors and alumni and how they contribute to the campus community.
“I think #CountOnMe is inspiring,” College freshman Sahar Panjwani said. “I find myself riveted by the stories that people [shared] and am constantly amazed by the diversity of the Muslim community at Emory.
There were Muslims who I was familiar with before, but after reading their stories, I feel closer to them because I think #CountOnMe allowed readers to catch a glimpse of the person’s life.”
College freshman Gulrukh Shaheen said that the initative was great because of its attention drawn to individuals instead of the religion as a whole.
“I like the blog because it humanizes the Muslims on campus. Instead of just focusing on what Islam is, it focuses on how Islam plays an integral part in people’s lives,” Shaheen said. “It hones in on a common teaching that Islam is more than a religion — it is a way of life and the blog really epitomizes that.”
– By Lokita Rajan, Contributing Writer