Muslims are not terrorists.
The Muslim Student Association and Al-Madinah Cultural Center have collaborated for the week to address issues and stereotypes that portray the Islamic faith in a negative light.
Islam Awareness Week is not only a campus event, but also is recognized nationally. “Unpatriotic Religion” is the groups’ theme on campus describing what they call unfair treatment of Muslim Americans as a result of the Patriot Act.
This week is important because students have the opportunity to learn and get beyond the Muslim stereotypes depicted in the media, said Muslim Student Association President Mus’ab Husaini.
“Islam is the religion of peace, and we would like to present that idea and (that Muslims) are peaceful Americans,” he said. “We are as peaceful and democratic and peace-loving as any other people.”
Awareness is essential for people to learn and understand the misrepresentation of Muslims that stereotypes cause, Husaini said.
Students are known for pursuing knowledge, and University students have the opportunity to seek knowledge about Islam firsthand during a week such as this, he said.
One of the common stereotypes about Muslim women is that they are oppressed because of how they dress, but that is not the case, said Muslim Student Association Vice President Ayan Ali.
Also, the portrayal of a few Muslims in the media makes it seem as though all Muslims are terrorists, but that is not true, she said.
Ali said focusing on a larger picture of the Islamic faith can help students understand it.
“People need to open their eyes and be more objective when they want to learn about Islam, and TV is not the only place to look for their knowledge,” she said.
Augsburg College studio art senior Kim Jurek decided to attend the event after she heard the evening’s speaker, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik on Minnesota Public Radio on Monday morning.
Jurek said the topic of the Patriot Act sounded really interesting, and because she wasn’t Muslim, she thought it would be a good opportunity to learn something different.
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik is well-known for his work serving as the Muslim chaplain at Howard University in
Washington and was the first Muslim officially installed as a chaplain in higher education at Howard. He is the head of the National Association of Muslim Chaplains in Higher Education.
Abdul-Malik opened Monday evening’s speech by enforcing that he denounced all terrorism and explained the Patriot Act’s unfair targeting of Muslims.
“Terrorism knows no religion,” he said. “It is not part of any of our traditions.”
The Patriot Act was enacted after Sept. 11, 2001, to help counteract possible terrorist attacks on the United States.
There are many examples of people who have been denied their rights in this country through wiretapping and unwarranted searches of homes as part of the act’s measures to identify terrorists, Abdul-Malik said.
Problems with the act make it difficult to fight terrorism fairly, he said.
Islam Awareness Week is not the only time people should be trying to learn about the Islamic faith, how the Patriot Act affects it and trying to examine the truth behind the stereotypes, Ali said.
Rather, people should try to learn about Islam anytime they are able to, Ali said.
“With Islam you don’t need to go read a book about it, you need to experience it,” she said.