Muslim Sororities?

Imani Abdul-Haqq, a North Corolina student, recently started the countries first Muslim Sorority Gamma Gamma Chi . In the article CNN published about her, it states that she’d been looking for a full, fun college experience, but she found it hard to be a good Muslim in the standard Greek world. Abdul-Haqq states that, “To not be part of something because you’re Muslim just shouldn’t be,”. So instead of rebuffing her school’s Greek system, and opting for Islamic organizations, she decided to start the first Muslim sorority.

Many non-Americans may not know about the reality of sorority and fraternity life. Let me enlighten you. Sororities are known to participate in drug & alcohol parties, fornication, rascism and hazing. For more information about them, just read the book Pledged by Alexandra Robbins. In the book, Robbins documents all of the above activities while following a sorority for a year. Hazing, is an initiation ceremony. Hazing rites vary from having to stand half-naked in a bikini while women circle your “trouble spots” with a black marker, to being made to have sex with a brother from a linked fraternity. Some sorority rushees have died from hazing ceremonies that have gone awry. Eating disorders and drug usage are also a part of modern day sorority life. In Pledged, Robbins writes about one sorority house that had to have their pipes replaced becuase the women participated in frequent binging and purging sessions, leaving the pipes erroded from stomach bile.

While I’m sure that Gamma Gamma Chi doesn’t participate in the dark side of Greek life (inshallah), they do wear greek letters and have a “secret ceremony” and “special handshake.”

I am confused as to why a Muslim would want to align herself with groups that are shrouded in such negativity. Sisterhood, and brotherhood, is an ideal that is already inherent in Islam. Personally, I have found sisterhood with Muslimas from many races and ages. I’m not sure how I feel about an organization that would seek to emulate greek secular organizations. If the goal is sisterhood, that this is something that could be accomplished in groups other than sororities. Groups like MSA (Muslim Student Assoc) encourage sisterhood.

The Qur’an states, ” And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves (Al-Qur’an 3:103).” This was commanded before there were such things as sororities and fraternities. I think the only letters i’ll wear are alif-lam-lam-ha…Allah.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Muslim Sororities?

  1. I am not in a personal position to comment about being a Muslimah and involved in Greek life, for the simple fact that while I am a member of a sorority, I am not Muslim. I can understand your concerns about practicing one’s faith and being part of a sorority or fraternity, and I do not wish to say that one should or should not become involved in Greek life. Such is a personal decision, in which many factors have influence, including religious belief and practice.

    However, please do not believe that every sorority or fraternity is like that of Pledged. Houses like that do exist, I do not doubt it. Despite this, there are many houses where women join houses to be in a more comfortable, all-female living environment, spend most of their time in the house involved in community service, learn to love and respect many women different from themselves, have not had a drop of alcohol or other substance in the company of their sisters, and have never been hazed or forced into any sort of sexual encounter. Men are, in many houses, highly restricted as to the times during which they are allowed in the sorority house (i.e. only during approved hours), as well as the areas they may visit (never into women’s bedrooms or any part of the house’s private living quarters, such as bathrooms). Alcohol is banned from many houses, as well, with serious consequences for those who break the rules.

    I do not wish to make this an argument about Muslimahs and sororities, because, again, it is not for me to say. I do not wish to paint myself as something that I am not — I do drink alcohol on occasion, and I do date. However, I do not drink with my sorority, and many of my personal moral values (e.g. with regard to pre-marital sexual behavior) are quite conservative. I just do want to let you know that there are probably many sororities that have issues like those portrayed in Pledged, there are probably equally as many who are filled with women whose behaviors and experiences have virtually nothing in common with the women whose stories are told in that book, other than the fact that they are in sororities.

  2. this is a well thought out article.

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    rehtwo–I commend you for being a part of a positive sorority. I understand that for many, sororities offer a chance for bonding, service and true sisterhood. However, I think situations like yours are not the norm when it comes to sororities. Then again, it’s really not for me to judge, since I have never been in one.

  4. Salaams,

    Although sororities/fraternities aren’t as popular in the North, it appears that in the South they are the norm. And by that I mean that people who are not in one have a limited social life or support network & may even be considered social pariahs by some.

    In that pressurized context, perhaps these Muslimas are trying to protect each other by providing an encompassing & safe Islamic space? MSAs are great but most people at college spend more time in their dorms/housing than at MSA meetings.

    Just a thought as to what may be behind the formation of these groups.

    Wasalaam,
    Baraka

  5. Hmm interesting point, Baraka.

  6. Salaam alaikum,
    Hey Amani!!! 😉 I’m being silly. I don’t know how I feel about it, yet. It seems like a step in the right direction and there are some Muslims that complain about the MSAs being too stuffy. But with college groups, you have to conform to the rules of the university so what if a member wants to do/promote something unIslamic?

    I wish them success and hope they don’t run into too many problems. I would have pledged for Delta Sigma Theta but at that time, even tough I wasn’t a church-going Christian, I wasn’t confortable with the parties, the tattoos, the induction fees and having Athena as sort of a representative Greek diety.

  7. LOL…Izzy, I never took you for a sorority gal.

  8. droppin my two cents. I never saw this post before..i’m curently a member of the 3rd chapter of Gamma Gamma Chi. Is there a need? yes..on college campuses, and in the professional world. Isn’t it possible for Gamma to take the negative image and turn it around? Allahuallum.

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