Mohammad Talafha, DPT
Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy, First Year
Where are you from, and how long have you been practicing Islam?
Jordan, and ever since I was born.
Have you ever been treated differently because you are Muslim?
Not that often and not at all here at Andrews. There was a time where that could’ve been the case, however. I was driving on the highway, and a cop stopped me because I did something wrong. He asked where I was going, and I said I was going to the mosque. After that he asked if I had drugs or bombs in my car. I was surprised! I don’t know if that was a usual question that he asked everyone, but it felt like it was assuming something about my religion.
What made you want to come to a Seventh-day Adventist University?
Honestly, I knew I this was a private Christian school, but I didn’t know much about Adventism. The program that I’m in is mainly the reason I decided to go here.
How have people here received the fact that you are Muslim?
People have been surprised. I know most of the students here are Adventist but not everyone, so you can’t really assume someone’s religion. I’ve also been told that there are around 50 Muslims in this school, but I’m not 100 percent sure. So yeah, people have been surprised, but I do go to church with my friends sometimes just to go with them.
Since you say you’ve gone to church with your friend before, would you say you’ve gained anything from the sermon?
Actually Islam and Christianity are not much different, they are both from Abraham, so when you talk about God, He’s the same one. There are many times where I’ve listened to something, and I agreed with it or I get to see it from a different perspective. Many times I’ll benefit from it, and think about things in ways I’ve never thought about before. It can be the same thing in my religion, but just from a different viewpoint.
In regards to the Muslim Ban that is being pushed in this country, have your friends and family been affected by it?
I wasn’t affected by it personally, but I did hear a story in Kalamazoo where a man was getting his degree while his wife went back to visit Saudi Arabia for a little bit. When she tried to come back, however, they didn’t let her through and because of that the man had to leave his program before finishing it to be with his wife. For me, I am not going back to my country until I finish my degree, and a lot of people with student visas are doing the same.
If you could say anything to someone who is against Muslims being in America, what would you say?
I understand people who are scared in this country; I’m scared too, but the immigration process takes more than one year. They do a lot of background checks, interviews and they don’t just allow anyone to come in with a bad bank account either. So I don’t see any reason for the ban. If this law is for the safety of people, then the government is already doing that by having a long immigration process. This Muslim ban attacks my faith. It is discrimination. This country is made up of immigrants, so to go against anyone because of religion is unfair.
Lastly, do you feel like Andrews is really taking into consideration the feelings of international students?
Yes, President Luxton sent an email addressed to the international students of Andrews and people, like my classmates, have messaged me giving support. I’ve also heard about protests in numerous places, even as close as Kalamazoo. It’s been comforting to hear and see all this support, and I think it even helps with accepting Muslims in this multicultural community.