Since his freshman year, LSA senior Halim Naeem has been telling
people about Islam. Beginning Monday, Naeem and other Muslim
students will volunteer to stand on the Diag, run Islamic Jeopardy
in the basement of the Michigan Union, and share information about
their religion with the campus community as part of the annual
Islam Awareness Week.
“It’s a good week for exposure, it’s a solid week with lectures
every night … there’s just a lot of Muslims trying to tell a lot
of people about our religion and I really think it’s a great
opportunity for non-Muslims to learn about Islam,” Naeem said. “If
there’s any week that they can learn about Islam, it’s this
Naeem said while the week can take a lot of work, he feels being
part of the effort is well worth it.
“Especially for this campus, with the Muslim population as big
as it is, and leanings for and against Islam, it’s really, really
important for people to get educated from Muslims and people and
who know about Islam, to know what Islam and Muslims are really
like,” he said.
Discussion topics “will involve issues concerning Islam and its
relation to the other two Abrahamic faiths, namely Christianity and
Judaism, Islam’s relation to the West and its portrayal in the
media,” according to the IAW press release.
This year speakers are coming from around the country, said Ali
Rana, a Business School junior and IAW volunteer. On Tuesday night,
there will be a panel of converts to Islam sharing their
“They are going to shed light a little more on the positive side
(of Islam), a side that doesn’t get touched upon in the media,”
Rana said Islam Awareness Week also brings together the Muslim
student community and the campus community at large, bringing
together individuals who might not otherwise have a lot of exposure
to one another outside of classes.
“You break out of your shell and talk to people you might not
usually talk to,” Rana said, adding that he feels IAW is a good
learning experience for everyone involved and promotes the exchange
of ideas and perspectives.
“They get a different perspective and they get to communicate
with Muslims firsthand,” Rana said. “They go to school with people
who are Muslim but they don’t really get a chance to talk to us or
hear from us our perspective. They have certain built-in
stereotypes about Muslims and so it’s really good for us to
communicate with each other and understand both sides of the realm
a little bit better.”
As for why students should attend the lectures and participate
in Islam Awareness Week, Rana said the educational opportunity is
beneficial, and unlike the television students might otherwise be
watching, not an everyday occurrence.
“I would say they should go because in this day and age we hear
so much about Islam and a lot of the stuff going on around us has a
lot to do with Islam … but often people aren’t well-learned about
it,” Rana said. “It’d help people learn and they can have their
questions answered, if they have any misconceptions or questions in
general, it’s a really good educational experience.”