Ahmad Mahmuod chose to discuss his experience as a Black Muslim-American both in and out of UC Berkeley:
“Growing up in sunny-side San Diego, not many would believe me when I would say how segregated the county is, racially. As a Somali-American I was raised in a purely-black community. Even the high school that I went to was populated by many Black students. After moving to Berkeley, I faced a culture shock of sorts. I met a whole set of diverse students from different ethnicities and backgrounds.
As a Muslim, I came across so many other Muslim brothers and sisters with whom I built wonderful relationships. Even though the African American Muslim community is really small in Berkeley, I was treated well by other Muslim communities which helped ease the culture shock. But I also saw a lot of Muslims go through spiritual tests of their own when I got here. I often found myself worrying about them.
I learned everything about my religion by spending time with my father and grandmother. If there is one thing that I’ll always remember my father says is “Son, the only thing I can teach you in life is religion. I can’t teach you math because I didn’t go to school. I can’t teach you English because I don’t speak the language. I can’t play sports with you like other fathers because I’m too old (83), but I’ll leave you with religion. That’s the only thing I can provide you.”
Ever since then I have never looked back. My religion and spirituality have shaped my personality and if there is any advice that I could give to younger Muslim students studying at Cal, it's that don’t be hardboiled on the idea that your sins can’t be erased. One of the beauty’s of Islam is to be able to ask for forgiveness. Nobody is above forgiveness. We are flawed one way or another. We make mistakes. But, put your trust in Allah (God) and sincerely ask for guidance and only good things will come your way, inshallah (God-willing).”