Meet America’s first all-Muslim Texas fraternity

It may seem like the punchline of a joke, but Alpha Lambda Mu–a one-of-a-kind, all-Muslim fraternity at the University of Texas–is serious about rehabbing the reputations of both fraternities and Islam.

Founded in February by student Ali Mahmoud, Alpha Lambda Mu — or Alif Laam Meem in Arabic — is a community of Islamic male students living together as brothers at UT-Austin. The goal of the organization is to provide a sense of community to Muslim students, many of whom struggled with reconciling their religious beliefs and campus lifestyles, said Ali.

“The primary purpose of a fraternity is to unite these men as brothers under a specific cause,” he said in an interview with The Independent. “We’re taking what’s good from the fraternity model and leaving what’s bad.”

For an American Muslim, most modern fraternities come with plenty that’s bad. In recent decades, fraternities and sororities have become associated with reckless drinking, raucous partying and sometimes-dangerous initiation practices.

Drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden under Islam.

Ali understands that many people would view Islam and Greek life as incompatible.

“The idea of a Muslim fraternity seemed heretical,” he said.

But living together and supporting one another makes it easier to follow Islam while at college, he said.

In addition to changing stereotypes about fraternities, ALM is also attempting to change stereotypes about Islam, which is often criticized for treating women as inferior to men. In April, members of the fraternity attended a rally for women’s rights where they held signs bearing such messages as “Muslims Say No to Domestic Violence,” and “Muslims Say Yes to Women’s Rights.”

“We hope that after all is said and done, we will have a strong group of guys who will stand up for social justice, for the needy, and for their societies just as the religion calls them to do,” said Ali.

The group’s Facebook page mentions four goals of ALM: honoring Allah, forming brotherly bonds, promoting academic success and strengthening character.

Interested Muslim male students at UT-Austin can rush ALM beginning next week. Pledges should expect a sharia-compliant hazing.

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