Growing in Understanding and Faith

A chance to meet and understand your neighbors.

About 150 people packed Barry Auditorium to meet and learn from community members who are Muslim.

The event was called Meet Your Muslim Neighbor. The panel, which included three Concordia students, a faculty member, a staff member, and a member of the community, addressed what their Muslim faith means to them and questions posed by the audience.

The event was hosted by the Forum on Faith and Life, the Office of Diversity, and the student groups Better Together and Muslim Student Association. Moderated by Alexander O’Connell ’21, an Interfaith Scholar, the goal of the event was to hear from people who identify as Muslim and what their lived experiences are in the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Many of the panelists have lived in Fargo-Moorhead for more than a decade. Dr. Ahmed Kamel, Concordia professor of computer science and management information systems, has been a part of the community for more than 20 years. He wanted to participate in the conversation because of his passion for interfaith work. When asked what it means to practice his religion, Kamel says it has to do with his everyday living.

“When I am preparing to do my best to teach my class, I am practicing my religion,” Kamel says. “When I serve someone in my community, I am practicing my religion.”

Student Sarah Mohamed ’22, president of Concordia’s newly founded chapter of the Muslim Student Association, says her faith has been the guide for who she will be.

“Islam has helped me figure out what I am to be in the world,” Mohamed says. “I was born and raised Muslim. It took me a while to figure out what Islam meant to me.”

Fauzia Haider, now a retired physician, moved to the United States from Pakistan and worked as a doctor in Fargo-Moorhead.

“[My Muslim faith is] about being a better human being. I became a doctor because I wanted to serve people,” she says. 

The panelists didn’t agree on all topics and pointed out that while they have their religion in common, they are all different people from different geographical and cultural backgrounds.

Nassimi El Kasmi, an international student from Morocco, says coming to Fargo-Moorhead stretched her to learn more about her Muslim faith.

“This year is my second year as an international student. Where I had been living was around only Muslims,” she says. “Living here pushed me to read books about Islam so when I was having conversations I had more information.”

Dr. Jacqueline Bussie, the director of one of the event sponsors the Forum on Faith and Life, says, “The packed house for this event – standing room only – indicates the deep yearning of students, faculty, and staff on our campus to engage in authentic dialogue, listen to one another’s stories, learn more about each other’s faith identities, and grow in compassion. I am so grateful to be a part of a community that shows up for conversations like this about faith and life.”