Loui Ismaeel, a sophomore in pre-med, leaned over, picked up a little black clock from his desk and watched the digital seconds tick away. There were still six hours before sunrise -- the time to face east for the morning prayer.
Ismaeel remembered the call for prayer, or adhan, in his hometown of Jeddeh, Saudi Arabia, 8,000 miles away, when the local mosque's speaker system broadcasts it for all to hear. The announcer's words, beginning with "Allahu Akbar," meaning "God is great," drift over the palm trees and Red Sea coastline into every home of Mecca's principal gateway city.
Jeddah is a lot like Florida, Ismaeel recalled fondly, but outside his frosty second-floor window at the U Residence Halls, there are no familiar sandy beaches. In six hours, Ismaeel will not wake up to the mosque's call to face Mecca and praise God with his younger brother and sisters. There is no adhan for him here -- only the monotonous buzz of his little black clock.
"I miss it," he said.
Ismaeel is one of many Muslim international students at the U living away from their homes, where Islam is as much a part of their nation's culture and history as it is their religion. A frozen, snow-covered university in a state where residents are predominantly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often seems a world apart. Because of this separation, Ismaeel said he is one of many Muslim international students who has grown stronger in his faith. (MORE)