Majda Elezovic-Rahmanovic ’10
With a dual degree in religion and history, Majda Rahmanovic ’10 became a community outreach director at the Council on American–Islamic Relations in Florida.
What are your favorite memories of the academics at Lake Forest College?
Looking back I absolutely loved my time at Lake Forest College. I remember sitting in Professor Anna Jones’s class, it was a history class and discussing the Catholic Church’s calendar - what was forbidden on certain days. It was such a fascinating subject and one that stuck with me and I decided to really read more on the church calendar and compare it to the Shi’a Islamic calendar, which ultimately helped me recently for a work assignment to build relationships with different Islamic communities.
I also remember sitting in Professor Benton’s class, Islam 101, which I highly suggest to everyone (even the Muslims, or particularly the Muslims), many students found the Quran to be hard to understand, since it is not in chronological order and Professor Benton just beautifully broke it down with what a Surah means, what an Ayah means and I think honestly, it helped me understand it better, even thought I am a Muslim.
How did you choose your area of study?
One day I stumbled upon a Philosophy club meeting. Being a freshman and never really being exposed to the subject, I became interested in philosophical elements of religion. I thought I would read up on people like Søren Kierkegaard. What I discovered was that, while I did not like philosophy, I was interested in the social aspect of religion. For example: How do the rules of marriage in the Orthodox church affect a woman’s right to own property? How did the Ottoman empire utilize Shairah law to justify the Janissaries and what effect did that have on the Balkan region, etc.
How does what you do now relate to what you studied at Lake Forest?
I use my knowledge from my religion classes daily. I think sometimes its hard to picture what career paths are open to religious study majors, but trust me there are plenty. When I started working with CAIR-FL, I would attend interfaith events where people did not really understand the other parties. I was able to give assistance to event hosts on dietary restrictions of Muslims or Hindus. We could propose a meeting time that accommodated prayers, without having to go back and forth with different religious communities.
When I would work with attorneys trying get their client the proper religious accommodations, I was able to provide alternate suggestions that would comply with company policy and fit with the person’s religious beliefs. All of this knowledge I learned from my classes. I am able to quote from the Bible and Torah when people ask certain rules and the way certain things operate. I think there is a misconception about religious studies being theology or philosophy, but it does not have to be. I think it helps that I received my MA in religious studies as well, and that advanced degree has helped me advance in my career. However, without the foundation of my Lake Forest College degree I would not have the tools to fully utilize that MA degree.