Students wearing caps and gowns sitting in rows (© AP Images)
The 2015 graduating class of Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Texas. (© AP Images)

Jumana Kamal, Mohammad Behroozian and Ahmet Tarik Çaşkurlu — all Muslims who have studied or are studying at U.S. colleges — recently shared their perspectives and answered questions from online viewers.

Woman with head covered by scarf conversing with three male panelists (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
(Left to right) Moderator Arsalan Suleman speaks to Jumana Kamal, Ahmet Tarik Çaşkurlu and Mohammad Behroozian. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Kamal, from Jordan, recently completed a master’s degree in Middle East and Islamic studies at George Mason University. Behroozian, a Fulbright graduate student from Afghanistan, is working on a master’s degree in television production and management at Boston University. Undergraduate student Çaşkurlu, from Istanbul, Turkey, studies at Georgetown University‘s School of Foreign Service.

All three panelists commented on the ease of practicing Islam. Schools are flexible when it comes to prayer times or breaking the Ramadan fast. And there are places to pray — mussallahs on many campuses are often “meditation spaces,” generic prayer rooms where people of any religion are welcome to pray or reflect.

“Americans have a high regard for people who are genuinely religious, and they will ask you questions, they will be curious about what you do and why you do it,” Çaşkurlu said.

Man gesturing with other man watching (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)
Çaşkurlu (left) and Behroozian. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Behroozian is making a mini-documentary series, “Heading South,” about U.S. Islamic centers in the southern United States, which will be released in the summer of 2016. “My experience, throughout my journey through the southern U.S., interviewing men and women, has been one of tolerance, freedom and cherishment at times,” Behroozian said.

The panelists encouraged other students to come to study in the U.S., but Behroozian warned they should be prepared to cook. In order to keep within a budget, he advised, “learn that kedgeree thing, and learn about all the food from your moms. You’re going to need it.”

See the entire webchat, moderated by acting U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Arsalan Suleman, here: