Photo Credit: Office of Suffolk County Legislater Kara Hahn
Written By Adam Strominger
“Don’t hate and don’t judge and don’t be angry.” These are the words of Sanaa Nadim, the chaplin for Stony Brook’s Muslim Student Association.
On most Wednesdays, Nadim leads meetings on the fifth floor of Melville Library. She gives advice to Muslims and anyone else because all are welcome in the community. Though she can be direct in her tone of voice, Nadim is caring and compassionate and always gives an important message.
When asked her about her life in Egypt, Sanaa Nadim said that when she was growing up and she had everything and life was rosy. She even had a chauffeur who would drive her around. But after college, she read a book by Bernard Baruch and connected with one idea: “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”
In the 1970s, Nadim immigrated to the United States and has been chaplain of the Muslim Student Association for 28 years — a role that runs 24/7.
“If your parents are not nice to you or if you are having depression, see me,” Nadim said during one of her meetings. Understanding that students can have a hard time during their experience at Stony Brook University, or anywhere else, she makes herself available to help them through challenging times.
The board of the association, aside from students, consists of the secretaries for the sisters and brothers who keep members updated on what is going on. Students of all racial backgrounds attend the meetings. The organization hosts an Eid banquet for the end of Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims where they have a dinner and a champlain appreciation dinner.
For the past two years, Nadim has also served on the Suffolk County Muslim Advisory Board. The board’s goals are to lobby on behalf of the emerging Muslim-American Community in Suffolk County and encourage participation at all levels by members of said community.
Her interests go beyond the local area too. Organizations such as American Islamic Relations have her utmost respect because she believes that those organizations firmly support and fight for the rights of the 3.45 million Muslims in the United States. She was honored by Barack Obama in 2012 at the Eid banquet at the White House.
Aside from running the club at Stony Brook, Nadim’s larger goal is to create awareness for Muslims who are living in bad conditions. This includes the Rohingya people in Myanmar, who were forced to leave their homes when the Myanmar army violently attacked and harassed them, leading to thousands of deaths and an ongoing genocide.
Speaking out against violence, Nadim says to show mercy to everyone and not to be judgmental since you do not know what a person is going through on the inside — “no hate and anger” to anyone you meet.