Points of connection for Muslim students
““It wasn’t her fault she’d been dumped in the middle of a place where there were no Muslims, and she had no idea when or if she’d ever get back home.” - This approaches an interesting type of questions that Muslims are confronted with from time to time (granted perhaps not to the extent that Sophia has having here, whisked away to the past as she is) where contextually it is very difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill an obligation or preferable deed based purely on the context one is in, to no fault of one’s own. But it is a fair question, What should Sophia try to do here? Should she abstain from marrying Mathew even though she has a crush on him and it is a near impossibility she will find a marriageable Muslim man where she is? Should she try to get Mathew to convert to Islam so she can marry him? Should she just go ahead and marry him? etc.
Another important point about Muslims that I believe often contributes to a certain cultural gap students and Muslims in the west experience. I believe it is fair to say that love and romance between people is not quite as honored (or romanticized if you will) as it is in the West; and this is more true the more religious a Muslim is. Islam teaches to love God above all else, even one’s spouse and family. This of course does not mean that you do not love them or love your friends or love others, however, Islam instructs the Muslims to love them “for the sake of Allah” and a marriage and family are to be vehicles for serving God and worshipping him on earth. This is all to say that romantic connection and union is not the end-all purpose and goal of life via an Islamic outlook on life; I believe this is less-so in the West where the virtually the whole of cultural output in music, movies, poems, literature etc. will revolve around the goal of attaining romantic love.
“She believed that God rewards those who sacrifice for their faith, and that a believer is blessed when they are thankful in plenty and forebearing through trials.” - The book seems to have misspelled “forbearing” here, aside form that this is a perfect articulation of teachings that are lucid in Islam. She could say patience instead of forbearing. The word for patience and forbearance in Islam is sabr (in Somali the same word is used often, there are Somali and Arabic names rooted from this word such as Sabir and Sabreen), the injunction to be patient is related throughout the Qur’an.