CAMPUS: SOLE hosts Muslim inclusivity event
By Mireilly Gonzalez
Former Managing Editor
Published Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023
As part of the Social Justice Leadership Series, SOLE hosted an event to learn about Ramadan for April’s National Arab American Heritage Month.
Ramadan is a month of fasting, which occurred from March 22 to April 20. It is one of the five pillars of faith. The five pillars are a declaration of faith, obligatory prayer, compulsory giving, fasting in the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca.
Two people invited were Assistant Professor of petroleum engineering Khaled A. Enab and Islamic Center of Laredo President Abdul Rahman, who oversees the only mosque in the city.
According to Pew Research Center, an estimated 3.45 million Muslims of all ages lived in the U.S. in 2017. This means Muslims make up about 1.1% of the total U.S. population. They also estimate that by 2040, Muslims would replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians.
However, Catholic Christianity remains the dominant religion in Laredo.
Rahman clarified the students’ questions about the Islam faith. Among them, one of the questions was regarding the difference between the Christian and Muslim religions.
One of the differences is that Muslims view Jesus Christ as a prophet, but not the son of God.
“We accept Jesus Christ as a prophet who had a miraculous birth,” Rahman explains. “Over from virgin Mary. And to him was revealed the gospel, and he did the work of God. And we consider, or Islam considers, Jesus as the servant of God. The servant of God, but not what Christians believe, for him to be the son of God. That is a difference.
“So somebody asked me what is the difference between all these religions that I know and that I’m aware of. I say, of all the religions you know, there are especially Abrahamic religions, there’s a lot of commonalities. But there are some differences. The fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam is how Jesus Christ [is viewed]. OK, but other than that, a lot of commonalities exist between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.”
Another difference is that Muslims don’t view Mary as Jesus’s mother, but rather as the mother of prophets.
“We believe Jesus was created the same way as Adam was created,” Enab said. “Adam did not need a father or mother to be created, the same thing for Eve, and Jesus was created the same way.”
The event also offered Middle Eastern food for students to expand their taste palette.
Having lived 12 years in Pennsylvania before moving to Laredo, Enab commented on diversity on campus and in the city.
“The culture here is mainly dominated by Hispanic culture, which is really good,” Enab said. “People are friendly, or students are in good relations with each other, to the family too. So there is more consideration about each other, maybe also a downside of not getting much experience or much exposure to other cultures beyond Hispanic. So, there’s something [that] needs to be pushed for.”
Enab said there are some dishes he misses.
“Definitely, we have this dish called Koshari, which is rice, lentils, eggs [and] some chickpeas,” Enab explained. “… and then we have the molokhia, which is a very delicious soup. OK, we have mahshi, which is cabbage filled with rice.”
Nonetheless, Enab admitted he enjoys the local cuisine, too, including fajitas and barbacoa.