Living in a predominately Mormon community with Mormon roommates isn’t a common occurrence for many Muslims, but for Mustafa Al-Jadani, it is a reality. Al-Jadani, 21, is a citizen of Saudi Arabia, from the city of Jeddah. He has a dream of getting a bachelors degree in electrical engineering in the United States, and he is currently a student at PACE international school learning English.
God, or Allah, happens to be a very important part of Al-Jadani’s life. He relies on Allah in his studies as well as in life in general.
Mustafa Al-Jadani has enjoyed his time in Utah and enjoys that “there is not a lot of drinking, not a lot of smoke and that there is a lot of nature and natural parks.”
But naturally, Al-Jadani misses his home country of Saudi Arabia. “I have the opportunity to visit my family every once in a while, but after a few months, I really start to miss my family.”
His family is not the only thing that he misses. “Of course I miss my family and my friends, but I also really miss the food,” Al-Jadani said.
Al-Jadani enjoys living with his LDS roommates because they are respectful of his beliefs and practices.
“It is difficult to pray when someone is watching,” Al-Jadani said. “They are often kind and leave the room to let me pray; they also pray themselves and so they understand.”
By complete chance, Al-Jadani has had two different roommates who are studying Arabic and that speak his native language.
Al-Jadani didn’t know much about the LDS faith before coming to Utah. He has since explained some of Mormonism to his Saudi friends back at home. “(Mormons) are a part of Christianity; they are pretty strict about their religion,” Al-Jadani said. “They don’t drink, they pray at least two times a day and they respect me.”
In regards to the “Mormon Provo,” Mustafa Al-Jadani has fit in.
“I feel like home. When I see people praying it reminds me that I am not the only one that prays, and that Islam is not the only faith that prays,” Al-Jadani said.
Al-Jadani has felt like he has learned a lot from his experience in Provo.
“I have learned that there are faithful people around the world,” Al-Jadani said. “When living in Saudi Arabia, I didn’t really think that there were faithful people that prayed in other countries and in other faiths. I have come to learn that there are faithful people all around the world. You should respect all religions even though you do not know much about them.”
Jesse Taylor, a senior majoring in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, has noticed that being respectful is a big part of the Islamic faith. Growing up in Chicago, Taylor’s best friend happened to be Muslim.
“I noticed that their family culture was very loving, welcoming and respectful,” Taylor said. “I also noticed that they were especially respectful of those of different lifestyles.”
Recent terrorist attacks have made things uncomfortable for faithful Muslims around the world. But Al-Jadani sees Provo as a place that respects him for his beliefs without putting him or his faith in the same category of terrorist organizations.
“In Provo, people are good about respecting all religions. But sometimes they misunderstand that Islam is a religion of peace. In fact, the word Islam actually means peace. How is it that this can be a religion of terrorism?” Al-Jadani said.
When asked about how he feels about the terrorist attacks in Paris and how they have affected his life as a Muslim, Al-Jadani talked about the difficulties that the Muslim population in France must be facing.
“Here people understand what happened and those that are truly at fault, but in Paris faithful Muslims are having a hard time,” he said.
In addition to the Muslim population in France, those in Syria are also dealing with very difficult circumstances. Al-Jadani stressed the importance of seeing people as people before judging them for their religion.
“Before we think about different people as others of a different religion, we must know that they are human,” Al-Jadani said. “What is going on in Paris or Syria or Palestine is inhuman. To think that they have to take other people’s lives or treat them like animals is not right.”
Doctor Quinn Mecham, Middle Eastern studies professor and expert in Middle Eastern politics and civil conflict, explained in an interview that Islamic teachings instill a number of virtues that are helpful for societies.
“These are virtues of compassion, of giving of your means to those that are less fortunate and of dedication to what you perceive to be God’s will,” Mecham said. “There is a strong sense of community, social justice and of obedience to the commandments. Islam shares a lot with Judaism and Christianity in terms of its understanding of what those commandments are.”
Mecham said there is no reason to discriminate on the basis of national origin or of Islam.
In a letter released on Oct. 29, 2015, the First Presidency encouraged members to reach out to refugees and those in need.
“It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships,” the letter read.
Once a refugee himself, President Uchtdorf understands the hardships associated with war and civil conflict. In his Facebook post on Nov. 15, 2015, he stated that “many of God’s children are currently suffering. Let us mourn with those who suffer but also comfort them, serve them, pray for them, generously share our means with them, and be friends to them. Let us look to Christ as our Exemplar as we consider how to help others.”
After getting a bachelor’s degree in engineering, Al-Jadani plans to get married, work for a large Saudi Arabian company and take up a friend’s offer to go on an African Safari, where he will continue to learn more about the world.