A 9/11 convert, one student’s spiritual path leads to Islam
The Muslim Student Association at CU finds itself in a progressive state with a woman as president.
Kelly Brewer, MSA’s president, stands out not only in her leadership role, but also as a convert to Islam.
Raised in a Catholic-Christian household, Brewer began learning about Islam as a 9th grader. The Sept. 11 media coverage at the time portrayed Muslims in Islam’s “malpracticed” state, and Brewer became interested in Islam’s “true form.” While delving into Islamic culture, Brewer was “impressed by the conduct of Muslims” in their kindness.
Brewer, who converted after Sept. 11, said that “now a lot of the political atmosphere has cleared away. A lot of people’s response to Islam after Sept. 11 had nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with politics. So now that we’re no longer in that political environment, people can say Islam is this, and Islam is not this.”
Surprised at first by her choice to convert, Brewer’s family is more accepting now that they see how she “can be a college student, a Muslim, wear a headscarf, have the same friends and be the same girl,” Brewer said.
“I’ve always been interested in spirituality, and what is truth and what my purpose is as a person,” Brewer said.
Now that she has converted, Brewer said that once you believe something, you want to put that belief into practice. A very important part of Islam is how you practice, such as fasting during Ramadan and praying five times per day.
Brewer follows the five daily prayer rituals. She said that praying five times per day is highly valuable to practicing Muslims in college, since students are constantly trying to balance their time.
“When you pray five times a day you’re always aware of time . you try to be the best person you can be between prayers,” Brewer said.
Contrary to widespread ideas, Brewer believes that women do hold leadership positions within the Muslim community. The President of the Islamic Society of North America is currently a woman.
“Islam gives different roles to men and women, but they are equal roles,” Brewer said.
Many men and women in the United States see a headscarf, traditionally known as a Hijab, as a symbol of oppression. But Brewer chooses to wear it. Brewer believes that the Hijab demands respect for women because it ensures that the person who is talking to a woman in a Hijab is valuing her based on her intellectual qualities, rather than her body.
“If I am a beautiful girl in a mini skirt and have long blonde hair, maybe he’s thinking about what I am saying but maybe he’s thinking about how beautiful I am,” Brewer said.
For Brewer, it’s all about both men and women dressing modestly “so you can get to know someone based on their heart.”
While some may pay her more intellectual respect for covering up, Brewer knows that the Hijab arouses intrigue for her reasons.
“They listen more carefully to what I say because here’s this different girl, ‘I can’t see her hair!’ So people will want to hear what I have to say.”
Six years after Sept. 11, a time which brought heavy negative attention to the Muslim community, Brewer believes that Muslims on the CU campus are not only perceived in a good way but they are welcomed. Last year the Muslim Student Association was voted Student Group of the year by the UCSU Diversity Commission.
“…we (the MSA) have been welcoming to the campus . it is a reciprocal relationship,” said Brewer
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Alyssa Shapiro at email@example.com.