For Muslims, public prayers bring questions, comments

While at work at an airport, Mohamed Kazbour faced a time crunch but needed to do his daily prayer to Allah.

He found a corner in the closest terminal where few patrons would pass, but still he faced weird looks to the point where he stopped his prayer and relocated to somewhere more private.

At Camp Dearborn, Nadine Sabri did a cleansing ritual – called wudu – in a public bathroom before her daily prayer.

 “Are you washing your foot in the sink?” yelled a woman who had entered the facility. “Don’t you know people brush their teeth in there.”

In England, behind a random building, Abdulkareem Harunani and his family began a prayer. Several other Muslims joined them.

In the Islamic faith, Muslims must pray five times a day at specific times.

Occasionally, that requirement puts them in uncomfortable positions.

“You have to be that committed,” said Sabri.

Sabri, Kazbour and Harunani, all students, were born into the Muslim faith.

Sabri and Kazbour are of Lebanese descent. Harunani’s family came from Kenya.

They do not view the strict schedule of praying as an inconvenience but as a retreat that strengthens their physical connection with God and cleanses their souls.

Like the prayers, there are many aspects of Islam that keep Muslims grounded in their faith, they agreed.

Their faith guides Kazbour, Sabri and Harunani in the how to live in the world. It gives them purpose in life and a goal for overall peace with everyone regardless of differences.

Sabri, who attends Eastern Michigan University, said that when she started college her faith helped keep her out of the troubles some college students face.

She knew there would be drinking, partying and premarital relations.

“And that’s not something I want to be a part of,” she said. “My faith keeps me from that.”

Kazbour, a childhood friend of Sabri, is a second-year business major at the University of Detroit Mercy.

His faith is central to his life.

“The values in Islam are what make me who I am,” he said.

Kazbour was named after the prophet Muhammad, whom Muslims believe is the last messenger of God.

He said he tries to live up to the name by being generous.

Just as Christians might try to embody the values and character of Jesus, Muslims try to represent the qualities of Prophet Muhammad.

Harunani, a second-year dentistry major at Detroit Mercy, is treasurer of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). He said the group is welcoming to all.

“We pull in people all the time. We’re very inclusive,” said Harunani.

ISIS, terrorism and stereotypes of Muslim culture in America – all reinforce for the three young Muslims the importance of showing what their Muslim faith really represents: peace.

“ISIS (is) not following Islam, and that’s not just my personal belief. We’re on America’s side in trying to stop them,” said Kazbour.

Sebri believes that President Trump’s executive order about immigration and refugees, which disproportionately affects Muslim-majority countries, has rallied many non-Muslim Americans to be more accepting and protective of Islamic people.

“Trump, you’re so worried about the spread of Islam,” she said. “Congratulations, you did it.”