‘Islam is not that different from Christianity’

| Michaela Nesvarova

The UT hosts a diverse community of students and employees of various backgrounds. With Christmas fast approaching, we have talked to several people from the UT about their faith and how they experience this festive period. Today:Irfan Mohamed Refai, UT student originally from India.

Who: Irfan Mohamed Refai

Position: Master’s student of Electrical Engineering

Faith: Muslim

‘For me, religion is a set of ideals and it allows me to identify with people all over the world who share the same values. If it comes to God, right now he is a rather vague area, something I can’t precisely define. However, I used to firmly believe that he is the ultimate being that created everything and defines what is right and wrong.’

‘You have to listen to both sides of the argument’

‘I’m a Muslim. I was born into the religion and raised to follow its values. I was born in India, but I grew up in Saudi Arabia. I studied at an Indian school, though, so I grew up within the Indian culture in an orthodox Islamic setting.’

‘There was a phase in my life when I was really drawn to religion, but right now I’m at crossroads. If you had talked to me several years ago, I would have given you a completely different story. However, since I’ve been here, I have been able to see different points of view and realized that you have to listen to both sides of the argument.’


‘My relationship with faith has changed lately. I used to pray five times a day, now I go to the mosque once a week. Praying is about reflecting and it shouldn’t be done mechanically. For me, a prayer is a sort of meditation, it helps against stress, because it allows you to forget your troubles for a while and to move on.’

‘I do still celebrate the main Islamic religious festivals, such as the Ramadan, fasting for one whole month. The reason behind Ramadan is to put yourself in shoes of poorer people, who can’t afford to have three meals a day. It allows you to experience what they go through and at the end of the month, you give a part of your savings to the poor. That is the real celebration for me. Ramadan is also about spiritual training. During the 30 days, you should always be kind to people and not fight with anyone.’

Islam and Christianity

‘Islam is not that different from Christianity. The main difference is that we believe that Jesus was only a prophet, not God and we follow the teachings of Muhammad. However, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are sister religions. Christian Christmas is something new that I want to experience. I don’t have to believe to celebrate something with others, it is about being respectful and accepting other ideas. Back home, Western culture was something foreign, but here I was able to see the other side of the story.’

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