This article first appeared in the ‘Times-Delphic’ online news outlet. The original story can be read here.
Drake University’s newly formed Arabic Club held its first open event on Nov. 7. The club hosted the “What is Islam?” event advertised as a dialogue with Imam Yunis and Brother Jamal from the Islamic Cultural Center of Des Moines.
The Arabic Club hoped the event would be a conversation open to any Drake students interested to learn and ask questions about Islam.
About a dozen people attended, many from the Arabic Club. Students were welcome to ask questions during the event or stay and talk with the brothers after.
Many free materials about Islam were made available to anyone who was interested.
The President of the Arabic Club, Kelanie Crosswait said,
“The men from the mosque really want to hear students’ questions and be able to dispel any myths that people believe or clarify anything that people don’t understand.” I really think it’s important to spread the truth of Islam. Even at Drake, which I think is a pretty liberal campus, I’ve heard some really nasty rhetoric here. I think it’s important for Drake students to have opportunities to expose themselves to the truth of the religion and not just to listen to what the media wants them to believe or to listen to comments that people who are uneducated have made about the religion. I want to provide an opportunity for the Imam and Brother Jamal to speak to Drake students and have this open dialogue.”
The dialogue began with brief introductions to the speakers and an explanation of what Islam is. The Imam talked about the faith and principles of the religion and asked members of the audience to explain what they thought Islam is.
The conversation then opened up to questions from the audience which ranged from beliefs within Islam to current political issues. The dialogue was taken as a way for students to learn and ask about Islam in any form and welcomed any questions and comments.
“We want to start a series of discussions about Islamophobia and we believe that the best way to begin this dialogue is to first have a discussion about what Islam is in today’s society, how many people practice it, what kind of laws there are against practicing it in public places and how people find ways to fit Islam into their everyday life. Some people have said that Islam and democracy don’t mix and obviously that’s not the case because we have lots of Muslims in the United States who are still very involved citizens.”
Arabic Club plans to provide more events like “What is Islam?” in the future for more students to attend and learn more about different cultures.
“We’re going to have some more of these panels talking about Islam as a religion and about its role in today’s society.”
With the recent, unprecedented results of the US Presidential elections that saw Donald Trump emerge victorious despite his consistently hate filled rhetoric towards minorities and in particular the Muslim community, the need for community cohesion events like ‘What is Islam?’ becomes even more important in order to safeguard communities against division.