The University of Kentucky is set to become the site of the first campus chapter of Gamma Gamma Chi -- the only Muslim sorority in America, which was established last April by Althia Collins and Imani Abdul-Haqq, a mother-daughter team from Virginia and North Carolina.
Students at the University of Kentucky are planning to start a Muslim sorority that will stress sisterhood and community service among its members.
Both Muslim and non-Muslim women can join the sorority. The six pillars of the group are Islamic awareness and involvement, educational development, economic development and support of the needy, environmental awareness and involvement, physical and mental health and social awareness and involvement.
So far, five people have expressed interest in joining the Gamma Gamma Chi chapter at UK, according to Boushra Aghil, a junior majoring in secondary education.
"We were thinking about what we could do for girls because we knew our parents wouldn't let us join a sorority," said Boushra, adding that the group will be united by the same goals and principles "We always had an idea to do something like that but we needed something established already to get our foot in the door," added Amira Shalash, 18, a freshman majoring in communications. "I don't think we could do it ourselves."
Amira Shalash, another student says the sorority will help her understand her Muslim friends and get closer to them.
"We want them to have a sorority experience because the reality is that American Muslims are exposed to everything that non-Muslims are exposed to," said Collins, who converted to Islam six years ago. "And the sorority life is one of those things ... That's just a way of helping them have a full experience on campus that doesn't limit them just because of their faith."
"She was interested in having a sorority experience," Collins said. "There are no Muslim sororities out there and for the most part the sororities that are in existence are Christian-based."
"It's very heartening to see the kind of positive response because it's saying, 'Yes indeed, this is an idea whose time has come,'" Collins said.
"Our whole purpose is to give a positive face for Muslim women," said Collins, noting that Non Muslims get only distorted image of Muslim women as through biased media which always portrays them as oppressed. "It's important certainly to have fun but we want them to have it in a structured way ... We are being very mindful of our responsibilities as Muslims, both privately and publicly."
Aghil said that now being involved in the sorority will be a considerable commitment.
"But with that commitment is the ability to actually come together as Muslim sisters and that's been lacking," she said.
"It's a way to portray women in Islam in a brighter light," she said.