Muslims are not allowed to kill women, no matter what. They're not allowed to attack old people or children. They're not allowed to damage buildings in war.
"If these were Muslims, then why were they reportedly in a nightclub drinking the night before [Sept. 11]? In Islam, you cannot drink," he said. "So I don't believe they were Muslims."
Finally, Chaudhry said, look at the outcome of the terrorist attacks: America destroyed the Taliban regime, which was supported by Muslim extremists. America is considering invading Iraq, a Muslim country. Muslims in America have suffered from hate crimes, and their mosques defaced.
"Why would any Muslim try to do this to Islam?" Chaudhry said.
Many Muslims worldwide are ignorant about many things, he said, including their own religion. Pakistan's literacy rate is only 9 percent, he said.
"They have been brought up in war. No education. They are living in shelters, these ghettos. I expect this from them."
Chaudhry said the terrorist attacks could have completely discredited Islam, the fastest-growing religion in America.
But they didn't.
"Due to the grace of God, the reverse has happened," he said.
"More people are trying to understand Islam."
The call to prayer is answered
Just before 5 p.m., Ahmed El-Sherbeeny removed his shoes and entered a plain, white-painted wooden building, tucked away behind the McDonald's on University Avenue.
He walked through a carpeted room to a bathing nook, removed the white knit kufi from his head, and patiently explained the ablutions he must perform before praying.
"Hands, gargle, nose, face, arms — right and left — head, ears and two feet," he said.
Then he returned to the carpeted room and turned on a microphone. He faced east and began to sing the prayer call. Speakers piped the high, chanting song into the open air.
Men began to file in: Sabbagh from upstairs, and Shah, who kicked off their shoes, dropped their backpacks and padded quietly to the front of the room, bowing before settling into quiet contemplation.
A small boy entered with a tall man. They stood side by side, the boy copying the man's movements — bending, kneeling, bowing.
The tall man leads the prayer. A young man in hospital scrubs is the last to file in, making 10 who pray along with the leader.
When the simple, silent ceremony is finished, the boy skips across the soft carpet and out the door.
Within a year, Morgantown will have a new mosque to replace the little white building, Albalawa said.
"It will look like a mosque from outside, with the minaret," a tower from which the muezzin calls people to prayer.
"We plan to have an open house soon, for Muslim and non-Muslim to get to know each other."
Morgantown, like other cities in West Virginia, is developing a sizable Muslim community. Albalawa can count Muslims from Asia, Europe, South Africa, North America, Malaysia and Indonesia.
"A big percentage of these people are professionals," he said. "Doctors, a lot of post-doc faculty at WVU."
Late this summer, the State Department started conducting background checks on all foreign male students between the ages of 16 and 45.
"In fact," said Peter Li, WVU's dean of international students, "some of our students are still stuck overseas." By the end of the second week of classes, eight students will still be waiting on their security clearance. They had already missed so many classes, they probably won't be able to study in the United States this semester.
Surprisingly, Li said, Sept. 11 and its aftermath haven't cut down the number of international students at WVU.
"Unofficially, we are getting 160 more international students as opposed to the same time last year," he said. Students from the Middle East and Pakistan make up about 10 percent of the 1,350 international students.
Albalawa said some of his friends from Saudi Arabia abandoned their plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the United States after Sept. 11.
"In fact, if I listen to my mom, brother and sisters, I would not come to this country," he said. He recently went back to Saudi Arabia for a visit, and his family urged him to stay home.
He definitely would have, if he wasn't so close to finishing his degree.
"I try to convince them it's getting better," he said. "But I believe I am taking some risk being in this country now."
To contact staff writer Tara Tuckwiller, use e-mail or call 348-5189.