Stanford standing united

Today’s guest bloggers are Ansaf Kareem and Anand Venkatkrishnan. Ansaf Kareem is a senior at Stanford University, majoring in Political … Continued

Today’s guest bloggers are Ansaf Kareem and Anand Venkatkrishnan. Ansaf Kareem is a senior at Stanford University, majoring in Political Science and Economics. He also serves as Senior Class President and co-founder of the non-profit IDEAS. Anand Venkatkrishnan is a senior at Stanford University majoring in the Classics (Greek and Latin). He will pursue graduate studies in Sanskrit and South Asian Religion. As IFYC Fellows, Anand and Ansaf co-founded the interfaith action group Stanford F.A.I.T.H (Faiths Act In Togetherness and Hope).

When we found out that both of us would be IFYC Fellows at Stanford, we met for coffee one afternoon last summer, before our senior year, to talk strategy. One of us is a Pakistani Muslim, and the other an Indian Hindu; one is into marketing, the other into Marx; one is class president, the other is class clown. But as children of the diaspora in America, we share as much as we differ–and what draws us most closely together is our faith. We thought that building active interfaith cooperation at Stanford would be a relatively slow process- that we might be able to organize one or two service projects by the year’s end. What we couldn’t imagine was that we would help rally hundreds of students, on a cold January morning, to respond to hate with love.

Two weeks ago, members of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church announced their plans to picket outside Hillel at Stanford. Campus chat-lists were in uproar. Responses ranged from ignoring the group entirely to direct confrontation. Instead, our good friend Joe Gettinger, president of the Jewish Students Association, called a meeting of diverse campus leaders to channel this energy into a unified response. This gathering, dubbed “Stanford United,” would affirm and celebrate Stanford’s own diversity, irrespective of the protesters’ presence. With Joe’s encouragement, we attached a letter to the invitation from Hillel to the entire Stanford community, in which we invoked the legacy and promise of interfaith leadership. “As a Hindu and Muslim,” we wrote, “we feel it goes to the heart of our respective traditions to stand in solidarity with others who are attacked on the basis of their identity. In other words, if we did not stand alongside Jews, gays and lesbians, or any other group who may be maligned this Friday, we would not be the Hindus and Muslims we strive to be.”

This letter had a ripple effect across campus communities. Catholic priests announced the rally during Mass, Muslim leaders made appeals to their student base, and LGBT and faith communities were brought together in unprecedented numbers. The image of members of Campus Crusade for Christ with tears in their eyes at one student’s spontaneous bagpipe rendering of “Amazing Grace” will remain salient in our memory. For many freshmen, this was the most meaningful experience of their young college career. Our actions at Stanford are already nurturing future interfaith leaders, who will shape the public discourse on religion as a bridge, instead of a barrier, or bubble, or bomb.

The narrative we highlight here is that it was not despite our differences that we could come together as a community, but because of them. Religious particularity is not only about domination, or persecution, or political intransigence; it gives us the ability to interrogate ourselves, to take learning seriously, to be surprised and humbled by the fact of existence. We are not interested in apologetics, but in fellowship; not merely in hearing another’s story, but in writing a new chapter together.

Stanford is listening. Are you?

The content of this blog reflects the views of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of either Eboo Patel or the Interfaith Youth Core.

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  • clearthinking1

    Too much “Western Civ” at the Farm.Stop reading Latin & Greek, and read the history about how Islam spread, the genocide of Hindus, the destruction of Temples, and the violence.Learn the meaning of Anand, Venkata, & Krishna. It’s time to leave the dorm, truly “interrogate oneself”, read the Gita, and see the true “fellowship”. Are you ready to listen?

  • justillthennow

    It is tiring to see the biased opinions of people that have no personal knowledge of, or experience in, Islamic or Hindu cultures makings the same sweeping generalization about all of them. Judeo-Christian history of patriarchal dominance of women is enshrined in their Books and cultures, breaking away from forced female subservience only recently and very reluctantly. Slavery? Enshrined in the Bible and the OT. If one believes the right wing nuts that this is a “Judeo-Christian country” we are a patriarchal one as well. Is rape rare here? Murder? Religious and racial bigotry? Unfortunate and occasional? Naw, we do that stuff regularly enough that women from one side of the country to the other have it’s fear shadowing them everywhere. It is not a moderate Muslim that walks into a cafe in Jerusalem and blows himself up, it is a radicalized Muslim. The moderate has no interest in Muslim domination of the world. Likewise true for Christians and Jews. Moderates make up the majority of each of these religions. The generalization of a religious group as radicals that ALL wanna kill infidels is false as well as immature. Get a grip on your facts as well as your emotions. Do not give your energy to inflame a problem, give your energy to aid a solution. Or just to be the answer.

  • dibee

    Sometimes I am amazed…and saddened very deeply. And more than a bit frightened. When are we going to stop this? We cannot function like this…

  • justillthennow

    Yeal9, You can quote all you want from the Qur’an to support your needed assumptions. That does not make those assumptions true in the real world. “Because of the following passages in the Koran, there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.”What a huge leap and generalization. Pathetic, particularly if you compare the European Book of Choice, the Bible, that guides the Christian mind. One can find all kinds of ugly there! The fact that the Christian God has destroyed and detested the infidels and commanded to pillage and destroy all of an enemies village, enslave them and their women, and put to the sword all who oppose Him has not made all Christian extremists. Far from it. Even though there are few Christians that live by the New Testament alone! Inclusion of the OT allows for the exercise of the dark side as well!”The Koran makes all Muslims radicals and therefore very dangerous.”Fox News PR bullsh*t. And you believe those lies? Your above statement is patently false.The world is full of “moderate and peace-loving Muslims. You do not hear much news on them. And I would venture that YOU don’t hear any at all, even if it were to slap you across the face. You would just say, “See there! A radical!”Be part of the solution, stop being part of the problem.Shalom, salaam, pax, santihom.

  • cabovela

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;Rev. Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

  • YEAL9

    Give us a break!! Radical, red-neck Baptists being chastised by the followers of Islam who are by nature even more radical because of the Koran’s demands that Muslim males should dominate women and the world by any means possible.We await Mr. Eboo, Ansaf Kareem and Anand Venkatkrishnan’s demands that these demands of the Koran be deleted now.

  • justillthennow

    Yael, “The fact that the 9/11 Muslim terrorists were college grads/students and the nine Muslims who tried to burn down an airport in the UK were doctors reinforces the statement:”The Koran makes all Muslims radicals and therefore very dangerous.””It does nothing of the sort, Yael. Many Muslims are college graduates, if you did not know that, and many are professionals in society. These people are not terrorists but are God loving, peaceful participants in society. I am sure that for the most part they do not advertise their Muslim identity for fear of this kind of stereotyping.I would venture a guess that the larger percentage of Muslims with “dangerous” tendencies, a small percentage overall, are illiterate, not educated. Your comments remain lies for the intent, I imagine, of inflaming stereotypical passion that have no interest in peace in the least. Your conservative Jews are the ones in support of annexation. As for the rest of it, rubbish. If you want to make an inflammatory claim, try to be credible. Not possible when you start with a bald faced lie.

  • YEAL9

    The fact that the 9/11 Muslim terrorists were college grads/students and the nine Muslims who tried to burn down an airport in the UK were doctors reinforces the statement:”The Koran makes all Muslims radicals and therefore very dangerous.”Conservative Jews in the USA have rewritten the Torah to reflect the myths therein basically making it a document of peace.Thomas Jefferson did an analogous rewrite of the NT. ” Thomas Jefferson omitted it (Revelation) along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he considered it (Revelation) as “merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.” ^ Bergh: Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 16