CAIRO - Giving American students an opportunity to know more about Islam and Islamic culture, Muslim students at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan launched Monday, February 25, an awareness week to dispel common misconceptions about the faith.
This week is a great tool to reach out to the community and tell them about a group of students that represent the largest religion in the world, Sebastian Maisel, adviser of the Muslim Students' Association and professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at GVSU, told Lanthorn student newspaper.
It's interesting to know that the MSA students come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, the United States, you name it.Why Islam' Counters US IslamophobesMy Jihad Fights US Muslim Stereotyping
The week includes events that aim to raise fellow students' awareness about Islam, including poetic readings and lectures about women's rights in Islam.
A comedian will be invited to lighten up the topic.
All major Muslim countries have students at GVSU working together peacefully and collaborating on these events and activities, Maisel said.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, many Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
A US survey had revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll had also found that more than half Americans already hold negative views about the faith.
Yet, a Gallup survey found that the majority of American Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
True Islam A special lecture will also be organized as part of the week to inform students about the basic pillars of Islam.
I hope people walk away with something new, MSA president Zeana Khodor said.
If they had a bad idea of what Islam really is before, I hope these events can change their minds.
Maisel, the MSA adviser, sees the week as an opportunity to introduce the true Islamic teachings to American students.
When students or the community listen to the news on any form of media, it is a very distorted picture of Islam, with violence, fighting and bombing highlighted, he said.
He said that the Islam awareness week would also show the diversity on campus.
It seems that in West Michigan, we have an understanding that our society is so homogenous, and students are usually surprised to realize how many different beliefs are represented on campus.
American Muslims have launched several campaigns to promote the true image of Islam among Americans.Muslim activists have launched a campaign in Chicago to reclaim the true meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims. The campaign has later expanded to San Francisco and Washington D.C.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net