Muslim Students” Association President Asad Tarsin said he has been watching the news. He said he”s seen the truth and reality of Islam in America being misrepresented and recognizes that information is going to be the greatest weapon against pigeonholing an entire religion.
As a result, Tarsin said that now more than ever students need to be educated about the truth and reality of Muslims and Islam in America.
This week is annual Islam Awareness Week with events taking place this month across campus and on college campuses nationwide to educate and inform students.
“This isn”t in reaction to September 11, though it is something we expect people to take a lot more seriously post September 11,” Tarsin said. “Now more than ever every American has a responsibility to learn about their neighbors.”
The Muslim Students” Association is sponsoring a series of educational lectures as well as hosting an information booth on the Diag and a “Jeopardy!” game about Islam in the Michigan Union throughout the week.
Imam Achmet Salie spoke about tolerance and understanding in Islam at the first of the lectures last night. Lectures today, tomorrow and Thursday will take place at 7 p.m. in 150 Hutchins Hall in the Law School.
Salie also addressed the issues of harmony and non-violence.
“Muslims have always been outspoken against terrorism,” he said, adding that even though they”ve always been strongly opposed to it, this is the first time that society as a whole has called Muslims forward to explain their views.
LSA junior Henna Tirmizi said she feels it”s extremely important for students like herself to be available to answer questions and talk about Islam. Learning about the true nature of Islam, she said, will hopefully clear up some of the misconceptions and stereotypes about it.
Tirmizi, who was also working at the information booth on the Diag yesterday, said she feels misinformation is too readily available.
“It”s so easy and there are so many ways people can get the wrong information,” she said. “They can go on the Net and type in “Islam” and get anything made up by anyone. We”re trying to give people the right information and just be a resource on campus.”
A visit to the Ann Arbor Mosque is also planned for students interested in touring the religious site.
“It”s ultimately about coming and witnessing people, witnessing the religion in action,” Muslim Students” Association Vice President Kenan Basha said. “That”s really important. You learn so much from experiencing it it puts faces with the religion.”
Basha, a Business junior, added that it”s important to create connections between students so they know people they can feel comfortable asking questions.
“Education, conversation and dialogue are critical to eliminating prejudice, destroying stereotypes and creating a more tolerant society,” Basha said. “So that when you speak to someone named Mohammed, for example, he can be a devout Muslim and a great American citizen who loves his country, who works hard, and who is striving for peace and prosperity.”