A letter to my Muslim friends

Olivia Harden, Opinions Editor

I grew up Christian, with strong Catholic roots. Although my family left the Catholic church when I was still in elementary school, we still practice traditions and observe some aspects of Catholicism. I spent plenty of time at church, Bible study and youth groups growing up, and I attended mission trips and summer Jesus camp. Religion gave me morals, balance, peace and community, things that a kid growing up and finding herself absolutely needs.

I had several friends who differed in ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds, but this didn’t happen intentionally. Diversity wasn’t a factor that determined my friendships when I was 14. But I appreciate that, through that diversity I could learn about the value of sharing cultures.

One of my closest friends was Muslim. I am thankful for her generosity in sharing her culture and experiences, as she grew up Pakistani in a small conservative town. She taught me how to pronounce her sister’s name correctly. For prom, she practiced henna on me, working diligently to make the lines thin and clean. At her graduation party, we gorged on samosas and other staples of Pakistani cuisine. Not once has religion ever caused a strain on our friendship, and, for that, I am grateful. In return, I’ve shared my family’s traditions, such as why I observe Lent and the Advent calendar, and the differences between Catholicism and Christianity.

But it’s not enough to be appreciative. We must look out for our Muslim friends. The number of Islamophobic assaults committed in the U.S. last year surpassed the number of assaults that occurred in 2001, the year of 9/11. In 2016, there were 127 reported victims of aggravated or simple assault, compared with 91 the year before and 93 in 2001, according to the Pew Research Center. Another Pew study from 2014 revealed that 62 percent of Americans don’t know a Muslim, which can make it easier for many Americans to demonize Islam. And President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments haven’t helped.

When Trump placed a travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries in January, my heart ached for my Muslim and Middle Eastern friends. I got involved in Chapman Students Against Xenophobia, and was able to really hear what my peers around me feared, but also what they needed. More than 400 people gathered in the Attallah Piazza on Feb. 1 to protest the ban. As a result, Muslim students on campus became much more visible to me.

Humans have a tendency to fear what they don’t know. The most important thing we can do is listen. We can’t stop Trump from making inflammatory comments about Muslims. But we can educate ourselves and reach out to our friends when they need help. Christianity taught me to “love thy neighbor.” It’s a simple concept, but it’s worth reminding yourself to practice it.


  • “Look at me, I’m a friend of one Muslim, so not only am I morally superior but my opinion automatically matters more than yours!”

    Olivia will refuse to even acknowledge the very legitimate concerns that Americans have with fundamentalist, devout Islam.

    It is extremely disingenuous for Olivia to dismiss legitimate concerns and critiques as “racism” or “______phobia.”

    The 9/11 terrorists used the Quran to justify flying planes into buildings. ISIS uses the Quran to justify murder, rape, and torture. Verses in the Quran have been used to justify virtually every single Muslim attack against Westerners. Almost every male Muslim uses the Quran to justify their extremely oppressive patriarchy (feminists, where you at?).

    Olivia will never be able to show me a capitalist/Christian country that is as oppressive as a Muslim-majority nation. Facts may be inconvenient, but at the end of the day, they are still facts.

    Islam is not a religion of peace. Muhammad was what Leftists would call “a radical, who does not represent Islam, and should not be looked at.” Unfortunately, Muhammed was not a radical, he is the top representative of Islam, and every Muslim looks to him for guidance.

    This article was nothing more than sad virtue-signaling by Olivia. Just when we thought she was stepping up her game, she fell right back into the Leftist groupthink that anyone who hates the capitalist West is a good person.

    • Hi Milk box man, you started showing up on every panther article since your fellow white-loving friend made that article a couple months back. You probably don’t go to our school, I hypothesize you’re one of those old retired men that just trolls college magazines. You use this platform to attack Chapman students, please leave our campus alone, and keep your thoughts to yourself.

      • I’m a chapman student and actually love what good ol Milk Box has to say. I think you’re the one who needs to leave our conservative Orange County campus alone

      • Hi Chapman student! I too attend Chapman University, and I am unsure why you had to involve race in your comment, as I’m unsure what one’s race has to do with the merit of their writing. How about you keep your thoughts to yourself? This country strives on diversity of opinion and the First Amendment, and it would go against your Democratic beliefs to attempt to suppress my freedom of speech simply because you don’t agree. Happy Holidays!

Leave a Comment