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    Posted September 19, 2015 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    I am a Muslim in America

    A Muslim at Liberty University


    Welcome to Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM). Lynchburg, Virginia, home to, deep Christian roots and a mostly conservative student body. People mistake me for some form of European ancestry with my hazel eyes, light tan skin, and straight black hair. Being able to speak French fluently helps to humor these ideations. We laugh, and joke, I get invited to events, and for all intents and purposes everything is normal. With every pleasing interaction, I cringe. Will they still treat me the same once they know my name? Madiha KHAN. Muslim.


    I pride myself on being a world traveler, identify with being a New Yorker, an avid Liberal, and a practicing Muslim. I eat Zabiha (the Muslim equivalent of Kosher), I pray 5 times a day, and I do so openly, which made even applying to this school a major decision. In medical school, it is not simply the curriculum, but the atmosphere of the student body and faculty that influence how well you will do. I had to take a hard look at what kind of physician and contributing citizen I desired to be. I aspire to be a gynecologist, with an emphasis on the underserved populations of the US. No citizen left behind. Liberty’s mission statement closely aligned with my personal and professional mission statement, so I applied and was subsequently accepted. While excited to have been accepted to the University of my choice, I was not sure what to expect. I was terrified.

    Thankfully, my experience at LUCOM as a Muslim has been overwhelmingly positive. My friends, who have accepted me for who I am, often invite me to church and out for dinner. At these engagements I am met with an influx of questions, which has made me palpably aware of the biases they have from their previous experiences or from what they have heard from the media. After all, they are seeing someone that’s been described within the last 15 years as a “terrorist” and “freedom-hating” for the first time, and I do not match that description. In fact, after our conversations, their body language begins to change. They become more relaxed and open, almost relieved as they begin to understand that I am not an anomaly, I am the majority. We are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who love this country, and while we do have differences in our beliefs, our similarities are far greater and stronger.

    To say that everyone has come around to understand or at the very least accept me would be a lie and far more Utopian than Plato could describe. I can tell from their body language, and the way they interact with me, that my being Muslim, makes them uncomfortable. I am okay with that. What makes America great, is that we welcome and accept other people’s differences. Whether it be their race, orientation, gender, or faith. I plan to continue this American tradition within my personal and professional life. I know, that as a Muslim in this area, I not only have a responsibility to my community, but also to the future patients of these student doctors, to expose them to differences in culture and beliefs now rather than later.

    The way we view our experiences and chose to respond, the way we choose to interact, and the way we choose to live determines who we are, not only as individuals but as a country. I know that I will continue to be met with biases and obstacles due to my faith. I have chosen to see these misunderstandings and preconceived notions as opportunities to learn from and understand one another. As a result, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I hope that by being an active and enrolled Muslim student at LUCOM, it will change the dialogue, and dispel the fabricated rumors about Islam and Muslims. Perhaps, being a positive representative of a biased culture that they may not have otherwise encountered or expected from LUCOM, will add to the education of my fellow student doctors.

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