We’ve heard so much about the Muslim community lately from those outside of it. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has recently called for a database of Muslims in our country to be set up and he has suggested they wear identification cards reminiscent of Jewish people being identified in a similar way during World War II. Democratic representative Loretta Sanchez of California made some questionable comments as well, suggesting, “up to 20 percent of Muslims want to establish an Islamic caliphate and are willing to use terrorism to get there”. She later made statements stating she supports the Muslim community however her initial speculative comments to many were of poor taste. You may be wondering. Are there any Greek organizations dedicated to bringing Muslims together in a positive way? What do they think of these recent statements? Stay tuned as we get some answers from the sisters of Gamma Gamma Chi, the first Islamic based sorority, and hear what their organization is all about.
Sorority Lyfe: What type of Greek organization is Gamma Gamma Chi? Is it social, service-based, or religious or a combination of these?
Gamma Gamma Chi: A combination of all of the above, actually! Gamma Gamma Chi Sorority, Inc. is a social and community service sorority that is Islamic-based.
Sorority Lyfe: When, why, and where was Gamma Gamma Chi founded? Where are your current active chapters located?
Gamma Gamma Chi: The sorority was founded in Greensboro, NC, on April 3, 2005 by Dr. Althia Ali and her daughter, Imani Canty. Imani considered joining a sorority in college but never went through the intake process because many of them went against her Islamic faith. She appreciated what sororities had to offer and imagined one for herself and other Muslim women which would honor Islamic beliefs. There are a total of seven chapters (not including the National Grand Chapter, which is technically never inactive and reserved for founders), and the current active chapters are Alpha in Atlanta, GA, and Epsilon in Philadelphia, PA.
Sorority Lyfe: What motto and symbols do Gamma Gamma Chi sisters hold close to their hearts?
Gamma Gamma Chi: Our flower is the water lily; our jewel, the amethyst; our mascot, the bee. Our mission is to promote a positive visibility of Muslim women and Islam in general. Our purpose is to unify collegiate and professional Muslimahs by promoting Islam through scholarship, leadership and community service. The sorority is also open to non-Muslim women who support our mission. Our vision is to be a network of women with lifelong ties to each other, our sorority, and our deen (religion), God-willing.
Sorority Lyfe: What are your thoughts on the statements made by Donald Trump and Loretta Sanchez in the media recently? Why do you think there has been such a surge recently in Islamophobia in our nation?
Gamma Gamma Chi: Of course we feel that Donald Trump’s statements are absurd! Islam is not a “foreign” religion and has been present in the fabric of America since its founding, though it was never exactly a dominant religion. Islamophobia has always been present–people are afraid of what they don’t know or fully understand. It has recently become more overt to the point of violence because a well-known individual and a potential leader of this country has taken a platform that puts Muslim and Islam in a negative light. Loretta Sanchez has clearly never met a Muslim. (lol) Okay–maybe she has met a Muslim, but didn’t know that the person practiced the Islamic faith. Our faith does not command that we spread religion “by the sword” like many people who are against Islam and Muslims believe. In fact, our holy book, the Quran tells us that if we take a life unjustly, it as though we have killed all of humanity…but that is never mentioned in the media. Another thing not mentioned in the media is that we are also to obey the laws of the land (courts, police, etc.) in which we reside as long as it does not cause us to disobey God’s law; interestingly enough, there are several verses in the Bible that command Christians do the same thing! Ignorance and fear is amazing! (smh)
Sorority Lyfe: Do you think Gamma Gamma Chi is helping to show those on college campuses and in your local communities how the Muslim community can come together to accomplish positive change? How are you doing so?
Gamma Gamma Chi: Firstly, our chapters are actually citywide chapters and are affiliated with specific colleges & universities. Ladies from institutions in each city join together. This helps us promote the concept of community or one ummah; however, we do host activities on college campuses and invite college students to participate in our community service and social activities. We have also hosted a health educational summit (specifically on HIV/AIDS) with a local masjid and invited non-Muslim members of the community to attend.
Sorority Lyfe: How have other sororities and fraternities on your respective campuses treated your presence on campus? Has it been a positive or negative reception mostly?
Gamma Gamma Chi: Some Alpha Chapter members did say that some of members of the other Greek-lettered organizations on campus were less than supportive, and that motivated them to make sure they did their best to make Gamma look really good. Being the first Islamic-based sorority in general has been interesting. Even when we talk to other members Greek-lettered organizations off campus, some are supportive and want to know about our sorority, and others say, “What’s a Gamma?” We just have to laugh at the latter. (lol)
Sorority Lyfe: Can you list and explain the six gold pillars that your members abide by? What is their significance and how are you working to accomplish them?
Gamma Gamma Chi:
Gamma Gamma Chi’s Six GOLD PILLARS are as follows:
- Islamic Awareness and Involvement: Recently we have been conducting quite a few interviews 🙂 . Helping those who are interested to better understand our faith. These interviews include the Atlanta Journal Constitution in December 2015 and German National Radio, scheduled January 2016. Based on the current climate, more are expected. We also do things as simple as attending Jummah (our Friday religious services) together.
- Environmental Awareness and Involvement: Our big effort in the area is working with Trees Atlanta. This organization works to beautify areas of Atlanta that have been neglected as well as encourage the use of recycled products for landscaping.
- Educational Development: We have recently and hope to continue to support the annual Education Bowl held at Agnes Scott College. This is an academic competition for High School Students. We also volunteer with several organizations including Baitul Salaam to provide Back to School supplies for Metro Atlanta children.
- Physical and Mental Health: This is a BIG pillar for the Alpha Chapter. We have held health fairs and hosted a seminar on HIV/Aids Awareness. We also volunteer and participate in the WD Mohammed Race for Education. We also have a Soror who competes in triathlons promoting our National Philanthropy, All Cancers Awareness. Another soror is a physician and gives community talks on various health issues.
- Economic Development and Indigent Support: We have worked the Trinity House Soup kitchen for a number of years.
- Social Awareness and Involvement: This is an area where we have not had a huge presence in the Alpha Chapter but with crucial elections approaching and the current social climate for Muslims and Minorities in the US I’m sure this will change.
Sorority Lyfe: What future goals does Gamma Gamma Chi have in terms of expansion, your philanthropy, Greek life involvement, fighting Islamophobia, or spreading the word about the sorority?
Gamma Gamma Chi: Gamma Gamma Chi: Gamma Gamma Chi has recently established a new Board of Directors. The immediate goal of the board is to evaluate the State of the Sorority and develop programs that will solidify our strengths, strengthen our weakness, create a stronger sisterhood as well as continue to promote a positive image of Muslim Women and Islam in general.
Shout out to the lovely sisters of Gamma Gamma Chi!