Students walking through the Michigan Union today will have the chance to try their luck at Islamic Jeopardy as part of Islam Awareness Week, a week designed to raise awareness and dispel myths about the religion and its followers.
The goal of Islam Awareness Week is to bring Muslims together to share information about Islam with the general public and to clear up misunderstandings and misrepresentations of Islam and Muslims, Muslim Student Association vice president Omar Khalil said yesterday in a press release.
“These misconceptions must be removed in order for us to truly experience the joy of living together with over 1.2 billion Muslim worldwide and 7 million in the U.S. Only through education, awareness and understanding can we develop tolerance, respect, and love in our society. Islam Awareness Week is one step toward this goal,” Khalil said.
The theme of this year’s Islam Awareness Week is “Islam: A Contribution to Our Society,” and activities include speakers, a panel discussion, a cultural display in the Michigan Union Pond Room and an informational table in the Diag “to allow students a one-on-one interaction with fellow Muslim students to learn more about the faith of their peers.”
MSA member Omran Kaskar, an LSA sophomore, said he thinks the interaction on the Diag is central to the success of Islam Awareness Week.
“There’ll be people on the Diag answering questions and the interaction between these people is very important,” he said.
“That’s where a lot off the information is exchanged about Islam.”
He added that since much of the media portrayal of Islam and Muslims is distorted, it is even more important that Islam Awareness Week exist both to teach non-Muslims about the basic concepts of Islam and also to show that Islam is about peace.
Engineering junior Shuaib Mirza, also a Muslim Student Association member, stressed that Islam means peace and has been a peaceful and tolerant religion looking back through history.
“If you look at Islamic history you’ll find that Islam has been very tolerant to all the religions it has governed and it’s probably the most tolerant to all religions … nobody mentions that,” he said.
Mirza added he hopes people take away from the week a sound understanding of Islam.
“Just to have a knowledge of a religion that is the second largest religion in the world and that their fellow students follow – they have friends that are Muslim, they deal with Muslims everyday, so they should have a sound knowledge in who we are and what we believe and our motivations,” he said.
The first Islam Awareness Week was organized in 1994 and held on campuses around the country, with the goal of providing information regarding Islam’s message and way of life while clearing up possible misconceptions.