Understanding Islamic culture

Many people have little contact with Islamic culture, causing widespread ignorance.

As students of the University, we are provided an excellent opportunity to experience wide diversity on campus. Each week, the campus events calendar is filled with horizon-broadening events. Last week was the Asian-American Student Union’s spring conference. This week is Islam Awareness Week, sponsored by Al-Madinah Cultural Center and the Muslim Students Association.

Diversity at the University spreads beyond religion and cultural backgrounds to sexual orientation and political viewpoints. This week, however, provides a special opportunity to learn more about Islam, which has been grouped together with many negative elements.

During the week, the cultural center will host myriad events to help better explain Islam. In Minnesota, where only a fraction of the population is Muslim, mass ignorance can easily lead to a societal pressure with negative consequences. As the Muslim population grows rapidly, more tension will develop as long as people do not understand one another.

Many of the issues that need to be faced by the University as a whole concern general ignorance of what Islam is. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Islam and its practitioners have been the focus of intense scrutiny. Unfortunately, many people in the United States have made the leap to equating Islam with terrorism. Much of the awareness week aims to combat the extreme portrayals of Islam in the media and celebrate religious and cultural bonds.

We are provided the opportunity to experience, learn from and get a deeper understanding about the students around us. Don’t understand what an “hijab” is? Don’t understand the Islamic daily prayers you have spotted some fellow students doing? Uncomfortable around different students? Islam Awareness Week offers a great opportunity to learn. Even if you disagree with Islam, this is a perfect opportunity to debate. Attend some of the events, and ask some questions. See what is going on.

University students are provided with these chances to experience diversity; you might as well take advantage of them.