Being a Muslim in Bloomington

I’d like to share a bit with you about “religious diversity” here at IUB. In particular, I’d like to share with you a bit about being a (Sunni) Muslim here in Bloomington. For starters, Bloomington is a pretty liberal place in the sense that it has a lot of well-intentioned folks—some of whom have a hard time understanding the idea of American-Muslim-ness. Generally speaking, though, I’ve only ever heard a few stories of out-and-out prejudice against Muslims as Muslims—of the three I can recall one was expressly against a muhajibba (someone who wears hijab) and the other two were directed against Muslims in the world. With that as the backdrop, it is worth noting that: (1) Considering how big it is, Bloomington has a lot of Muslims—from all walks of life and from around the world—far more than most towns the size of Bloomington; (2) if you’re used to living in a city with a big Muslim population (e.g. a Philly, Deerborn, NYC, etc.) prepare to feel somewhat isolated and deprived of a variety of halal options. That said, one of my favorite restaurants serves halal meat (<http://www.restaurantanatolia.com/>) and there are at least three other halal options in Bloomington for folks who like to eat out. And, I should add, we’re not so far from Indianapolis (about an hour by car), where you can find a lot more variety in the way of halal food…

There are definitely useful resources for Bloomington-based Muslims. There is, of course, the “Islamic Center of Bloomington,” which plays an important role in the lives of many Bloomington Muslims <http://www.icob.org/gl/public_html/>. There’s also the Muslim Student Union on campus (used to be an MSA but is no longer—long story about which details are sketchy and scant), which has become an increasingly open and welcoming space <http://www.indiana.edu/~msuweb/>. The MSU facilitates “campus jumah” that is open to everyone who doesn’t feel like attending—or can’t attend—jumah at the masjid. Moreover, the MSU office is open to all IUB faculty, staff, and students who want a place to pray on campus. Personally, I really appreciate the enthusiasm and openness of the MSU—the spaces they create are open to all Muslims, regardless of theological positions (i.e. there are many Shi’a who attend campus jumah, we’ve even had Shi’a give the khutbah and lead prayer), gender, and ethnicity/race. I’m not sure how the MSU would do with “out” Muslims, but, as far as I know, to date this has not been a practical question. If attending jumah here in Bloomington gets tiring, you can always try to get up to Indy, where there are several masajid with a range of orientations—including a WD Muhammad masjid, a few Salafi-oriented masajid, and the ISNA headquarters—such that you should be able to find a place you feel comfortable with. To sum up, then: my impression is that practicing Muslims in Bloomington are certainly exposed to various modes of prejudice that mobilize Islamophobic tropes, but Bloomington offers practicing Muslims a few worship-communities and a broad range of Muslims to befriend… Hope this helps!