Jo Barrow, The Independent
When someone mentions college fraternities, a group of devout, celibate young men is not the first image that springs to mind. Thanks to endless gross-out Hollywood comedies, people are bombarded by images of privileged men drinking away their degrees at parties with the ubiquitous red and blue Solo cups, but something different is happening.
In February this year, America’s first Muslim Fraternity was established at the University of Texas; Ali Mahmoud is the President of Alpha Lambda Mu (or Alif Laam Meem) and its founder.
Although fraternities are seen as little more than glorified residential drinking clubs, it was not always that way.
Ali explains: "The primary purpose of a fraternity is to unite these men as brothers under a specific cause." However, the reputation of fraternities changed in the 20th century, when fraternities became known for their party culture more than anything else.
If the idea of a fraternity is so negatively charged, what could have prompted the decision to establish a Muslim fraternity? Apparently, it all started out as a joke.
"The idea of a Muslim fraternity seemed heretical," says Ali. However, as they worked on the idea they realised that many Muslim men at university felt that they either had to compromise their social life in order to live by the values of Islam, or compromise the values of Islam in order to have a social life. Ali believed a balance was achievable, and that was the path the establishment of Alpha Lambda Mu was trying to pave.
They created the fraternity, based on the principles of Islam - mercy, compassion, justice, integrity, honesty, unity, love, and sincerity - in order to prove that a modern Muslim college student could live as a dignified, respectable man and still have an organic college experience. They hope that in their fraternity, their members – ‘young, self-actualised Muslim men’ – will be servants to their families and every aspect of their greater community.
"Muslims are supposed to bring benefit and prevent harm to everyone and anything, not just Muslims." (Read more)