EITR x MSA Livestream: Discussing mental health in the Muslim community

On October 29th at 4:00 PM, the Elephant in the Room club hosted their first YouTube livestream discussion of the 2020-2021 school year with the Muslim Student Assosication. This livestream highlighted how speakers, Hosai Mojadidi, Nuha Ibrahim, and more, felt growing up Muslim in America. The speakers also excellently addressed anonymous questions submitted by the audience. 

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Muslim community suffered from a lot of harmful preconceptions. President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Aliza Shahab, shares her thoughts on the internal prejudice she faced growing up. “Now looking back, I just don’t know if it was easy for me to sit there and memorize all the frequently asked questions that people would pose to you if you were Muslim and like answer the questions with this blurb, and I memorized those blurbs on how to explain my faith to people… I can’t believe I was like, 12 years old and I had to memorize these huge blurbs about my faith and I had to explain it even before I understood my own faith.” 

The topic of Muslim women wearing hijabs as a way of respecting their religion has also been brought up. The hijab is not only a religious item, but also a way for women to say “No” to the societal standards that they are placed under. Women are frequently sexualized for anything, from their chest size to their waist to even the length of their hair. The hijab hides the hair, and many Muslim women who choose to wear hijabs also choose to wear baggy clothing as a way to stop others from judging their body and sexualizing them. “I felt empowered,” confessed guest speaker Hosai Mojadidi. She first started to wear a hijab in college as a way of stopping society from being able to judge or sexualize her and her body, and ever since then, the hijab has become an essential aspect of her life.

However, just because a Muslim woman does not wear a hijab does not mean that they are any less of a Muslim than someone who does wear a hijab. Guest speaker Nuha Ibrahim touches up on the idea that being Muslim is about treating others with respect, not your exterior appearance. She recalls one of her transgender students asked her if she would be going to Hell since she’s transgender, in which she replied, “… I’m not God! I can’t say, ‘You’re going to Hell, I’m going to Heaven’. You know, there are people, especially in our religion, you hear stories about prostitutes getting to go to Heaven and women who pray five times a day not making it to Heaven because of their actions. So, the way you treat people is the most important thing in our religion.” 

The discussion was truly an eye-opening experience for many people, especially non-Muslims. Hopefully, discussions like these will contribute to the growing equality and love in the Dublin community. There were so many experiences and explanations given in this livestream that really helps non-Muslims understand not only the struggles that Muslims have to go through but also how they overcome them. Good job and thank you to all the speakers for being brave enough to shine light on their personal experiences! For more information, Gaels can check out the livestream at this link: https://youtu.be/WOZsphJY9Y4! If Gaels are interested in listening to schoolmates share their experiences on various topics such as LGBTQ+, growing up as a minority in America, etc, you can subscribe to the Elephant in the Room project’s YouTube channel (where they will be hosting livestreams and podcast episodes every month) here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv9s2kVg9b7GP9MyZmMUoQg.