This reflection was offered at the interfaith reflection service as a part of Manresa 2013.
When I think of home, the first thought that comes to mind is family; and around my family I am very comfortable, so home to me is the feeling and being comfortable, not only in my house, but outside of my house and in my home-town. This feeling and being comfortable comes from the kindness of not only my family members, but the neighbors in my neighborhood. In Islam it is very important to be and show kindness to your neighbor. In fact, it is one of the golden rules in not only Islam, but many other religions around the world.
Prophet Muhammad’s mission was simply to convey the message of God, who clearly commanded the good treatment of neighbors in the Quran.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him not harm or annoy his neighbor…”
In the Quran, Chapter 4 (An-Nisa: The Women) verse 36 states:
“Worship God and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet)… Verily, God does not like such as are proud and boastful.” (Quran 4:36)
Surat An-Nisa: (The Women)-4:36 wa’Åbudul-laaha wa laa tushrikuu bihii shay’aw wa bil waalidayni iHsaanaw wa bidhil qurbaa wal yataamaa wal masaakiyni wal jaari dhil qurbaa wal jaaril junubi waS SaaHibi bil jambi wabnis sabiyli wa maa malakat aymaanukum* in-nal-laaha laa yuHib-bu man kaana mukhtaalan fakhuuraa
Coming to Xavier was a huge transition because I was basically going to be away from home and most importantly my family, but I was at ease when I started to meet people and become friends with these people. This is what really made me have so much love for Xavier. The people around me (my roommates, my suite mates, the RA’s, people in the whole hall/dorm) who were basically my neighbors, all showed so much kindness to me; I was treated with so much gentleness and respect that I was so at ease here, I couldn’t wait to come back each year. This (Xavier University) became my home away from home. It’s the only other place (other than family’s) that I am perfectly content to live and be at!
I’m a junior, but my first year here (freshmen year) our men’s basketball team was in the NCAA tournament. I remember I was sleeping, because it was Friday and I was done with all my classes. And the student center was having a big showing. So as I was saying, I was asleep and someone from my hall- a friend of mine—a neighbor—came and woke me up and told me to come to the student center and watch the game. So I went and watched the remainder of the game and WE WON!!!! So everyone on campus, that night that was watching the game, came out of each dorm in huge amounts and we just stood in the green space and celebrated/cheered for about like 15 or 20 minutes! This was an amazing moment and one of the great moments I have about Xavier University—about being at home. Because you do these things with family members and neighbors from back home like when you’re watching a super bowl game and your team just won the championship.
The person who came and got me, my neighbor and now a good friend of mine, really helped me enjoy my community at Xavier University. So to let everyone feel like they’re at home, I include them in everything. I let them know what’s going on campus and why they should come on out. I want them to get comfortable with people on campus and with campus in general so they feel at home.
My faith is me. I try to follow it to the best of my ability. Because I receive guidance and so much gentleness from everyone (from students to professors, to staff and faculty), I must do the same to anyone in need of kindheartedness or direction. Because I’m at home at Xavier I will make others feel like they’re at home as well, by helping them as much as I can and showing them compassion. I can’t wait to come back to Xavier every year! I truly feel at home!
Binta Diallo is a junior pre-med student from Zionsville, Indiana. Binta’s smile and warm presence light up campus, but she will make you laugh too. She gives back to her new home through serving as a Smooth Transitions mentor and as the secretary of the Muslim Students Association.