Muslims Find Common Ground on Campus

February 9, 2007

Author: Shari Rabin

Source: The Daily Free Press

As the violence between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims in Iraq escalates into what many have labeled a civil war, students from the different sects on U.S. college campuses insist they are striving for unity, but admit meeting the needs of both can be difficult.

Even as the conflict has raised the American public's awareness of the subtle differences between Sunni and Shi'a Islam, Boston University Islamic studies professor Kecia Ali said most Muslims in America do not strongly advertise an affiliation with either sect.

"If anything, the conflict in Iraq has united American Muslims across sectarian lines in opposition to American policy in the region," she said.

Most U.S. colleges have a single Muslim students association that serves both groups.

Ali said the biggest distinction between the sects - in terms of college students - concerns how their followers observe certain religious holidays.

"I don't tend to notice significant differences based on Sunni-Shi'a identity among my students or others on college campuses," she said.