A Muslim fraternity that started at the University of Texas is inspiring students across the nation to start similar groups. “Alif Laam Meem” was formed at the University of Texas Dallas by student Ali Mahmoud in the fall of 2012. What started as a conversation and a joke between Mahmoud and his best friend, soon turned into a fraternity like no other.
“Alif Laam Meem” is the first of its kind in the United States. Translated Alpha Lambda Mu, the Muslim fraternity is seeking to bring a devout Islamic experience to the college student. Their first rush involved 40 different student, with 24 members remaining in the brotherhood today.
Although fraternities are often associated with the idea of partying and crazy antics as a way to get through college, the Muslim fraternity wants to stand for something different. Mahmoud, a junior biology and sociology major, wants to develop future Muslim leaders in American universities. So rather than throwing crazy, outrageous parties, the fraternity meets for morning prayers, retreats, leadership councils, and discussions on life as an Islamic college student.
As the Texas charter chapter seeks to formalize its place on the college scene, fall 2013 showed interest growing at both Cornell University and the University of San Diego. Other schools, including Penn State, San Diego State and the University of Florida, have begun to talk about the idea of a Muslim fraternity as well.
Many schools already have an islamic presence on their campus, known as the Muslim Student Association. The goal of this organization is about awareness and the opportunity to support muslim students on the university campus. Mahmoud still believes MSA serves its intended purpose, but his heart was to create a brotherhood where an exclusive group of muslim men could provide accountability in a safe environment for the struggles they would encounter.
Many of the students that are a part of Alif Laam Meem share diverse backgrounds, but a common story. Their religion unites them in a place where differences abound. Like any normal kids their age, they poke fun at themselves and have a good time. But the idea of a Muslim fraternity certainly carries more cultural weight than the average group of guys hanging out for a good time.
Completely aware of the potential for ridicule and skepticism from outsiders, the fraternity has an open YouTube page where they hope to expose others to what they are like. They are normal American who also happen to be Muslims.