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Students at the Islamic Center of Fort Collins
Many Colorado State students bury their heads into their textbooks, trying to memorize fact after fact for their upcoming midterm. Freshman Jonah Rudolph does this too, but he’s also memorizing something else.
“I’m trying to memorize the whole Quran,” Rudolph said. “I’m trying to just page by page to memorize it and understand it. That’s also very important, a lot of people memorize the whole Quran, but they don’t put in the effort to understand it.”
Rudolph, the youth event coordinator for the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, says he estimates that he’s memorized 2.5 percent of the religious text.
“But, in a 600 page book, that’s pretty darn good,” Rudolph said.
It began when he, the sole Muslim of his atheist family, converted to Islam two years ago. But, before he began memorizing the Quran, he had to teach himself Arabic. According to Rudolph, it was hard, but the phonetic nature of the language allowed him to pick it up quickly.
He also became fluent in French when he was 5 years old. He says languages come easily to him.
The Quran was originally passed through speech, dating back to the Prophet Muhammad. Written versions did exist, but the language at the time made it difficult to read and pronounce. Passing the Quran through speech was more credible and preserved the text from changes. Today, those who memorize the Quran, in its entirety, become highly respected within the Islamic community.
“The Quran literally means ‘something that is recited,’” Rudolph said. “So, when you have it in your hand, this isn’t really the Quran. What you hear is the Quran.”
While Rudolph’s working to memorize the Quran, others at the mosque are seeking to become more in tune with their faith.
Moonier Said, vice president of the Muslim Student Association and a senior, was born a Muslim. But, according to him, he did not start learning about the religion until high school.
He did not know much about his religion until his geography teacher approached him.
“You should learn, you should understand your religion,” he recalled his teacher saying.
Coupled with the fact that his peers kept asking questions he did not know the answers to, he began to inform himself about Islam.
“To be Muslim means to seek it,” Said said. “Just because you’re born with it, it doesn’t entitle you to anything.”
Both Rudolph and Said regularly visit the Islamic Center, mainly for prayers, but the community within the mosque is another reason they stop by daily.
Shakir Muhammad, a Fort Collins engineer who’s heavily involved at the mosque, estimates that 70 percent of the people coming in and out are students.
For these students, their involvement in the mosque plays a crucial role in how they define themselves. But, at the end of the day, they’re like everyone else.
“We’re just everyday people, I’m a student at CSU, I have school work, I have responsibilities just like anybody else,” Said said. “The only thing that makes me different from you is what I believe.”
Translation of what Jonah Rudolph recited:
In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds,
The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path,
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.
Collegian Reporter Lawrence Lam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LawrenceKLam.