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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

My God and My Jihad

I am a Pakistani Muslim and I have been a student here for the past 3 years. This year, I will be graduating together with thousands of other students. However, before I do that, I would like to talk about my personal Jihad through which many Muslim students have to go through when they come to study in America. Jihad in America is misrepresented. Jihad means inner struggle.

Since coming to Boston, the only problem I faced was food. I had to become a Vegetarian out of necessity. It’s common knowledge that consuming pork is prohibited by Islam (also known as ‘haram’). What is not so common knowledge is that there are other meats which are also considered Haram.

Haram products mainly include intoxicants (non-medicine, such as liquor) as well as meat not sacrificed properly. The proper way is by sacrificing it in the name of one God (the same monotheistic God of the Jews and Christians) without ascribing partners to Him. Meat in the US is cut and processed entirely by machines, without the blood being properly drained away, which is also necessary in Islam.

Due to this, many Muslims have to make the harsh decision of going against their religion and consuming meat not sacrificed properly, or turning Vegetarian. Many of the food products have animal derivatives, for example bread contains mono- and di- glycerides as softeners, and Yogurt (such as Go-Gurt) containing Gelatin which are a byproducts of beef. This is especially hard for people who come from Muslims countries where chicken and beef is a primary part of the main diet, esp. in the Middle East and South Asia.

For me personally, this meant that I could no longer have Super Supreme Pizza, McChicken burger, or Double Whooper. Instead, I had to turn to vegetables which I have never enjoyed as well as eating egg/fish sandwiches. Eating the same type of food every single day is not easy. Nevertheless, I have still managed to stick to my diet in which I avoid chicken and meat completely, as well as products containing animal derivatives. The only place that I am able to find halal (meat sacrificed properly) meat is at ethnic groceries and restaurants. Unfortunately, they do not serve fast food nor pizza.

I hope that in the near future, the responsible offices would provide food options (not necessarily ethnic) for the growing Muslim population on campus. Currently that would be feasible in the new student center where there are plans to provide food service on every floor.

I have been successful in my Jihad. My Jihad in not to eat Haram food, my jihad in not going clubbing, and my jihad as remaining a loyal and representing myself as a Muslim. I did all of this because I want to please my God and hope my God will accept my Jihad.

It is sad to see that so many people view Islam as a religion of fanatics; in fact it promotes religious harmony. It is said in the Qur’an, the Muslim Holy book:

“O People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion The bounds (of what is proper). Trespassing beyond the truth, Nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in Times gone by – who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even way. “(5:77)

People of the Book are referred to the followers of Torah, Gospel, and Qur’an, and Exceed means opposing moderation, a test by which a hypocrite or a selfish man who “trades” on religion is separated from sincere, pious and a truly religious man.

Kashan ArshadCAS, Computer Science, ’03