Muslim students find their own space at Seton Hall


The Muslim Student Association works to raise understanding surrounding Islamic culture. Photo courtesy of Rawda Abdelmenam.

Seton Hall, while being a Catholic school, is home to students of various religions, including those who practice Islam.

According to the Seton Hall website, the University strives to meet the spiritual needs of all students, regardless of faith, as there are a number of students who are Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, and Buddhist, among other religions.

Ali H. Aljarrah, a freshman diplomacy and international relations major of Islamic faith, explained that while the university is a Catholic school, it didn’t deter him from attending.

He said that he chose to become a Pirate because it offered a great diplomacy and international relations program.

He added that he has never felt out of place attending a Catholic university because of the similarities between Islam and Catholicism.

Rawda Abdelmenam, a junior special education and speech language pathology major and vice president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), said seeking knowledge, whether secular or spiritual, is obligatory for every Muslim.

“It is important that as people of God we seek and understand other people’s faiths and if we truly love one another then we must understand each other in our similarities and differences, which is one of the reasons why Islam and Catholicism are similar and how Catholic teachings at SHU do not conflict with students’ faith,” Abdelmenam said.

Aljarrah said that the way people define being religious differs from person to person.

“I’m religious in the sense that I do believe in God and I do follow the faith of Islam, but I do my best to improve my spirituality with God,” Aljarrah said. “I try to go out of my way to learn more about the religion other than what was taught to me by my parents and what was taught to me by the mosque.”


Photo via An illustration of the Islam star and crescent.

Even if an individual is not religious, a Seton Hall student can learn about different religions through reading texts and discussing them in classes like Journey of Transformation, Christianity and Dialogue and Engaging the World, while asking and discussing universal ideas and questions.

“With the students and professors in my Journey class, I think seeing an actual Muslim like myself, in a class who understands the religion, is able to compare and contrast the differences between Islam and Catholicism,” Aljarrah said.

Aljarrah added that while he is Muslim, his experience has been nothing less than normal while attending SHU.

Dr. Wagdy Abdallah, a professor of accounting and taxation and faculty advisor of MSA, said he wants to make Muslim students feel at home at Seton Hall as it continues to significantly accommodate students practicing a non-Catholic religion.

Additionally, students who practice Islam or want to become informed about the religion and cultures involved, can get involved in MSA on campus.

The club is an inter-religious and inter-cultural organization that works to raise consciousness, dialogue and understanding about Islamic culture and religion.

While Aljarrah is usually too busy throughout the school day to pray, students who practice Islam can be accommodated on campus to pray through programs set up by MSA.

In a recent initiative, MSA has coordinated to have Friday Muslim Prayer in Duffy Hall at 1 p.m. every Friday throughout the semester.

MSA also hosts several interfaith events and discussions on the topic of Islam and integration.

Abdelmenam said that MSA represents Muslims at SHU and while it is a Muslim organization, their mission is the same as everyone that surrounds them on-campus, which is to improve the lives of everyone within.

“Oftentimes being Muslim is synonymous with being alone. You are the only one of your faith at your school, in your town, or even the entire community you grew up with,” Abdelmenam added. “MSA was conceived in order to unite Muslims from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and create a community as important and impactful as those that surround it.”

Nisha Desai can be reached at

Author: Nisha Desai

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  1. We must try to understand people who aspire but may have different beliefs, customs, and religions. Education and dialogue are essential in breaking down “old” stereotypes. I salute the writer for writing this important post which will benefit our entire Seton Hall community. All the best to our Muslim Student Association members. And of course, Go Pirates!

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    • Impossible to do when Islamic beliefs are opposite of the beliefs that we westerners hold dear – freedom, free speech and expression, our tolerance towards others we disagree with and the fact our laws are not rooted in religion, but man made and much more compassionate and humane than Islamic law, which is part of the religion. They have no separation of church and state.

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  2. I used to think like so many others. So many still know so little about Islam. MSA has a hidden agenda that every now and then, rears its ugly head or is exposed. They are a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and are doing their work by pushing the false idea that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance when it’s far from it. Read this dossier on the MSA and its connections to terrorist organizations. Whether some or all students of MSA know this; point is, they are helping push the ultimate goal – a caliphate.

    Hopefully my comment doesn’t get pulled and everyone can do some independent research, but if it does, I already have a screenshot that would show how those who speak up about Islam’s dark side, are constantly being silenced.

    If you think all followers of Islam can coexist peacefully with others in the west; just look at Europe. It’s a blueprint for what’s to happen here.

    I encourage everyone to read this, which explains what the MSA is indoctrinating on others, their connections to terror organizations and how Islam is not peaceful nor tolerant.

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  3. I took a screenshot of two comments I submitted about two months ago and see only one of my comments (my reply above to Daniel) was approved.

    Truth is the new hate speech I see. Sorry. Islam is not a religion of peace and MSA is a dangerous group – a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as many Muslim organizations – CAIR, ISNA, etc. Yes, I know whoever moderates this page will not post this comment, but as long as you know you are being called out for your fascism and intolerance to hearing and publishing the truth.

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