But there are some unique things that Muslim students look for as well. We come from a venerable and ancient tradition, one that demands many things out of us. Many of those things might make us stand out at a typical American college campus. Modesty, for instance, is very important for Muslims. We are expected to dress and act in a manner that reflects our acceptance of what Allah desires of us. Personal modesty is not a dominant value on campus, as I'm sure most everyone is well aware.
Because of our valued and special traditions, we expect that our student leaders also reflect those same values. When our leaders live in a way that is true to the Noble Quran, it empowers the entire community to proudly live out the life our parents and ancestors expect us to.
A leader who should be disqualified
Unfortunately, here in West Lafayette, we have a Muslim student leader who at first glance seems like she is just the leaders the community needs- but anyone who actually knows her knows that she is exactly the opposite of how she portrays herself. And, even worse, the exact opposite of the values that Allah and the Quran lay out for Muslims.
Asma Bahrami, a senior studying pharmacy, is very active in causes that matter to Muslima. She is president of the Students for Justice in Palestine organization, which helps raise awareness about the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters under Zionist occupation. Asma Bahrami also raises money for the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. She was also the vice – president of our Muslim Students Association, and she still organizes events for the MSA.
What's more, Asma presents herself as a religious Muslim woman. She wears the hijab, which no doubt sets her apart among college students. In public, she presents herself as the picture of a pious and modest Muslim woman.
But, as many of us Muslims know, Bahrami's private behavior should disqualify her from presenting herself as a leader of the Muslim community. Even though many Purdue students spend much of their free time partying and drinking, a strong Muslim will know how to resist these unhealthy and unholy practices. Asma Bahrami, sadly, does them with great enthusiasm. She regularly goes with non-Muslim friends to big frat parties (she has always spent a lot of time with non-Muslims boys. Not only that, she drinks and gets quite drunk at these parties. And, when boys and girls drink together, we know what happens. Not surprisingly, Asma is not able to resist these temptations as well.
If Asma wants to do these things, it is unfortunate, but many Muslims, as we know, drink and party. But not many try to fool their own communities, and try to be leaders and examples to young people who are looking for real role models on how to live the proper life. It is not only herself that Bahrami is leading astray. She is showing young Muslims that it is ok to be a hypocrite, it is ok to engage in sexual activity, it is ok to bring dishonor on an entire community.
It makes it even worse that Asma is doing this in a time when our community is fighting back against bigotry and Islamophobia. How can we expect to show all of the wonderful sides of our faith when people see a student leader with a hijab acting like Asma does at a party? I wish our community would speak up and replace Asma with someone who is more representative of our views and our values. I hope that others will be brave enough to join their voices to mine and make a chance that should have happened long ago.
Asma Bahrami has embarrassed us for too long. The time to demand she step down is now, and every day that we wait brings more confusion and shame upon our community.