By Adil Rahman
CIOGC invited Muslim youth leaders to a meeting with Dr. Dalia Fahmy, the keynote speaker from this year’s Annual CommUnity Dinner. On the afternoon of Sunday, November 15, just before the dinner, 20 people gathered for a conversation with Dr. Fahmy on “Asserting Our Voices as Young Muslims in a Climate of Islamophobia.” The topic was chosen to provide an opportunity for youth to discuss Islamophobia with our keynote speaker, who is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Long Island University-Brooklyn.
Muslims are constantly being challenged to defend both their identity and the religion of Islam as Islamophobia is becoming more widespread both nationally and globally. The young people in the Muslim community in particular are facing challenges at their high schools, colleges and workplaces. Dr. Fahmy provided insight regarding the best approaches young Muslims should practice when facing these dilemmas. She discussed identities, senses of self and how we are affected by world events and media representations of them. Dr. Fahmy’s discussion was informative and provided motivation for young Muslims to overcome the barriers of Islamophobia.
One of the main focuses of Dr. Fahmy’s talk was the importance of following our shari’a, which, she explained, is not merely a set of laws, but a set of ethics that should guide our lives in everything from dealing with our neighbors to our sense of social justice. She discussed the importance of young Muslims to excel both in their fields of interest and in their character. An eloquent speaker, Dr. Fahmy further explained that our actions will speak volumes, and as long as we present ourselves in a respectful, disciplined, and friendly manner, people will start to draw a positive image of Islam. She also gave examples of Muslim students who were high performers in class and also highly engaged in extracurricular activities, such as athletics and community work. Dr. Fahmy mentioned that there were countless occasions where professors would approach her and mention how accomplished and successful their Muslim students are. Dr. Fahmy concluded her talk by informing the room that we must set the standard and expectations high and work both diligently and effectively in our personal development to prove that as young Muslims, we have the potential to make a positive impact in society. Islamophobia has grown, but once people have the opportunity to see the true character of Muslims, their Islamophobic perceptions must change and be shifted to the beauty of Islam.