CAIRO - Offering a peaceful environment where students of all beliefs can discuss Islam, an interfaith student association at University of Oklahoma is planning weekly discussions about Islam and Muslims, hoping to change negative opinions about their faith among students.
There is no conflict between these religions, Osman Bayindir, a member of the Interfaith Dialogue Student Association, told The Oklahoma Daily.
They are all Abrahamic religions.
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Organizing their first event next Monday, students at the association planned Questions About Islam to allow members of the OU community to ask questions about what Muslims believe.
Students would also be offered a better opportunity to know Islam stance on issues like terrorism, women's rights and democracy.
Students can also come to the weekly sessions to share their own beliefs, Bayindir said.
These discussions may reveal that Islam, Christianity and Judaism has more in common than most people know.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
The new events were planned after recent surveys reflected a growing mistrust among Americans for Islam and Muslims.
A Gallup Poll conducted in 2011 showed that nearly a third of Americans who responded to the survey reported their opinion of Islam is not favorable at all.
Americans' views of Christianity and Judaism were more likely to be very favorable than not favorable at all, according to the same poll.
More than half of Muslim Americans responding to a 2011 PEW Research poll said that it had become more difficult to be a Muslim in America since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
Holding their weekly sessions, the association is hoping to change negative opinions about Islam by offering a peaceful environment where students of all beliefs can discuss Islam.
A Muslim cannot be a terrorist, and a terrorist cannot be a Muslim, Bayindir said.
Bayindir said he hopes discussions will help the community understand that Islam and terrorism are incompatible
He added that they would try to end misconceptions that Islam and Democracy are incompatible.
Human rights, women's rights, men's rights, kid's rights - everything exists in Islam, Bayindir said.
What I have lived so far - it's a democracy.
The association will have speakers from the community come talk about various subjects.
Malaka Elyazgi, a Muslim woman who studied sociology and women's studies at OU, will come during one of the sessions to talk about women and Islam.
Elyazgi is on the Commission of the Status of Women.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net