Discovering Islam’s Beauty at Seminary

I could hear my parents concern when I told them I was applying to Union: They were, after all, only reflecting the doubts and questions I had been wrestling with for the past year. What could I possibly learn about Islam through classes on the Old Testament? Wouldn’t I just be taking on more loans with no promise of a job when I graduate? Ultimately why was I, a brown Muslim-American immigrant named Mohammad, called to New York City to study Islam at a seminary grounded in the Christian faith?
Mohammad Mia is a first-year M.Div. student in Union’s Islam & Interreligious Engagement Program
While I like to believe that I’m the one who chose to pursue Islamic studies at Union, I recognize that the choice was made long before I was ever aware. In Islam there is a tremendous significance to the names we give our children,—they ascribe not only our aspirations but the character we hope will be cultivated within their lives. Mohammad, which means praiseworthy in Arabic, was a name my grandfather gave me because he believed I would be a leader who stood at the crossroads of faith and intellect. Yet in bestowing this name upon me, he spoke into being a path of challenge and strife; a calling I have long resisted.
As an immigrant to the United States shortly after 9/11, I never knew the privilege of discovering the beauty within Islam. Instead I found it reduced to a primitive religion of terrorists, and the Prophet