Muslim students have been facing systematic and faith-based discrimination on campuses since 9/11. But the COVID pandemic presented a new set of unprecedented challenges to the entire Muslim student body in America and the rest of the world.
At first, Muslim students had to cope with the changes alongside their peers. But soon enough, they realized that global lockdown rules forbade community-based gatherings such as those during Ramadan and celebrations such as Eid.
As a result, students had to acclimatize to the new e-learning system quickly. They had to handle the shock while completing their projects on time. And some of them had to turn to an essay writing service to keep up.
So, let’s discuss the impacts of the global pandemic on Muslim students in college. We will also delve into the pros and cons of remote learning for Muslim students.
Lack of community
Islam is a religion that relies on the close-knit community to support its members. Institutions also allow students to congregate with freedom. But due to the pandemic, students had to avoid social gatherings for health concerns. They could no longer attend prayers or Muslim Student Association gatherings at school.
In line with the restrictions on social gatherings, mosques, churches, and other houses of worship were also closed. This ban on religious assemblies was first viewed with contempt in Western countries until the closing of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Eventually, Catholic and Muslim institutions had to dissuade their congregations from attending religious events.
As a result, Muslim students now struggle to replicate that community online with Zoom communities and support groups. But the online experience is not a fitting substitute for camaraderie between practitioners of the faith.
And most significantly, some students had to face the reality of celebrating Ramadan in isolation or small groups.
Inability to access distance learning
In academia, lockdown rules meant that tuition had to shift to a remote learning schedule. Students were obliged to stay off-campus and use only virtual learning tools.
However, the unprecedented nature of the lockdown caught many institutions by surprise. Schools without an established e-Learning system struggled to cope with the challenges of online tuition.
As a result, students from low-income households are falling behind the rest of their colleagues. And this lack of access to online academic resources affects their performance in college.
Inadequate access to counseling
Unfortunately, some students are going through grief due to losses and health complications during the pandemic. At the same time, some are trying to cope with the psychological effects of isolation and loneliness in college dorms.
In line with limited access to academic resources, Muslim students are also struggling to cope with the fallout of the ongoing pandemic. And since access to counseling is limited, Muslim students cannot talk to their chaplains and imams.
Alternative career opportunities
The pandemic has opened the eyes of most students to the instability of traditional career paths. Jobs in STEM fields and other remote opportunities are becoming more popular among the younger population.
Besides, students now pick up jobs as essential workers to support their income since most regular part-time jobs are on hold.
Today, Muslim students use social media platforms to promote their creativity and highlight their skills. They also rely on podcast platforms on DSPs to express themselves and discuss their unique experiences.
In the same vein, young entrepreneurs promote their businesses on Instagram and Facebook. Fashion and design blogs have also become a massive port of call for a lot of Muslim girls.
There may be a decline in discrimination due to the lack of in-person interaction
Since the start of the pandemic, incidents of racial and religious discrimination have seemingly decreased. Women who cover their faces have reported they have more confidence to wear the niqab in public now.
Of course, the decrease in physical interactions is responsible for the decline in discrimination. Nevertheless, online abuse addressed toward Muslims has not changed. Some extremist groups even tried to blame the spread of the virus on the Muslim community in London.
Although these radical sentiments have subsided, no evidence indicates that religious tolerance will improve post-pandemic.
More avenues for reflection and self-improvement
One significant positive from the pandemic is that students have used this opportunity to embrace the faith more. Since Muslim students are closer to their families and have more free time, they spend more time on self-reflection.
Moreover, this unprecedented challenge reminded students to seek solace in the Holy Book. Online Islamic student communities have also helped young people embrace their faith and focus on self-improvement.
The emphasis on cleanliness as an aspect of faith
According to Professor Mehmet Ozalp of the Charles SturtUniversity, the pandemic has brought a lot of attention to personal hygiene — a core tenet of the Muslim faith.
In the professor’s words, “Prophet Muhammad emphasized ‘cleanliness is half of faith’ and encouraged Muslims to wash their hands before and after eating…”
And most significantly, Muslim students had to get used to routine hygiene and disinfection protocols. These guidelines are in line with the daily ablutions recommended by Islam.
The pandemic has necessitated massive changes in the lives of Muslim students in colleges. Some of the changes are unprecedented, while others have allowed young people to embrace the faith closely. Young Muslims now explore alternative ways for self-improvement.
Conversely, students are struggling to cope with the absence of community. Counseling and academic resources are in low supply. Nevertheless, the future is bright for Muslim college communities.
Amanda Dudley earned her Ph.D. IN History from Stanford in 2001. Since then, she has worked in academia, lecturing on World and American History and assisting students through her work on EssayUSA. In her spare time, Amanda loves practicing her German and developing techniques to improve the experiences of students with learning difficulties as they progress through education.