The Christian Science Monitor Weekly

November 26, 2018

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heart of the news By Molly Jackson / Staff writer The average July temperature in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is about 97 degrees F. For five of those July days, Hind Alsboul slowly circled the roof of her family's home, wobbling in unsteady lines atop her brand- new bicycle. In two weeks, she and her par- ents would fly to Salt Lake City, where she would begin life as a freshman at nearby Brigham Young University (BYU). And a particular orientation course had caught her and her father's eyes. It involved canoeing, biking, hiking – in short, many things that Ms. Alsboul had never done since her family moved to Saudi Arabia from Jordan nine years before. When Alsboul finally did brave the streets on her bike, with her father riding behind in support, people were yelling and whistling and taking pictures – and she wasn't sure it was encouragement. Today, dashing back from a statistics class in a pink and white sweatshirt, Alsboul is embracing life at BYU – an enthusiastic survivor of her orientation. She likes the Sunday night singing sessions in campus tunnels (her favorite hymn is "Come, Come Ye Saints") and the department she wants to major in, communications disorders. Alsboul is one of 44 Muslim students on a campus of more than 33,000: a campus where roughly 98 percent of students are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes, Muslim students say, it can feel isolating. But their experiences also offer a unique window on what concepts like acceptance and under- standing look like day to day, playing out be- tween two frequently misunderstood faiths. Like Islam, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has at times been one of the most reviled religions in the United States. Early criticisms of founder Joseph Smith, in fact, compared him to Muham- mad, and they were not meant as compli- ments. Today, that legacy has informed the church's quiet but firm defense of religious freedom in the US. Historians of the church, not all of them members, filed two amicus briefs in opposition of the Trump adminis- tration's recent "travel ban." BYU is hardly a place you'd expect a student from halfway around the world who's not a church member to spend some of her most formative years. It is a hub of the Christian denomination's thought and faith – "a kind of finishing school" for young church members, jokes Islamic studies and Arabic professor Daniel Peterson. But BYU is also a place of openness. Here at the base of the Wasatch Range, MOLLY JACKSON/THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR SALT LAKE CITY A conservative Christian university where Muslims feel welcome MINORITY: Hind Alsboul, a freshman from Jordan at Brigham Young University, is one of 44 Muslims at the university of more than 33,000 students. Sitting on campus in Provo, Utah, she displays a copy of 'Desert Sorrows,' a book of poems written by her grandfather. She likes to share her culture with fellow students. 14 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | NOVEMBER 26, 2018

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