The following is excerpted from the Church Newsroom. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

There’s nothing easy about being thousands of miles away from home amid multitudes who don’t share your faith.

And yet three Muslim basketball players at Brigham Young University (BYU) — from Egypt, Mali, and Tanzania — are doing just that. Aly Khalifa, Fousseyni Traore, and Atiki Ally Atiki are part of a BYU team playing in the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, which begins Thursday, March 21, 2024.

Why did they choose a university community filled with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Khalifa, from Alexandria, Egypt, said it is important to be in a place where he can practice his faith comfortably.

“I feel like I’m not the only one who’s a man of faith in school,” Khalifa said. “[Muslims and Latter-day Saints] practice their religion really well. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we don’t have sex before marriage. There’s a lot of similarities between both religions.”

“It’s good,” the Tanzanian Atiki added, “because our ideas and beliefs are kind of similar.”

For Traore, a native of Bamako, Mali, the Latter-day Saint community’s high moral values are a significant plus.

“This helped me a lot in my decision to come to BYU. We share a lot of similarities. Especially marriage-wise, the law of chastity is super similar,” Traore said. “[Being a Muslim at BYU] is actually super cool. Everyone respects our beliefs.”

For Khalifa, that respect and support is especially important as he fasts during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that goes through April 8, 2024. Abstaining from food and drink from sunup to sundown is especially challenging for an athlete who needs to maintain energy levels while playing basketball. (Traore and Atiki are observing Ramadan in other ways.)

“I feel like everybody’s supporting me. I feel like they understand because I’m doing this for my faithful reasons,” Khalifa said. “They respect it a lot, and they try to help me get through the day every day during practice and games. They’ve been great to me. It means a lot.”

To read the full article, CLICK HERE