Islam 101 one of many means of promoting diverse understanding

Lizzy Balboa

A university is often called a marketplace of ideas. Every school year brings a fresh wave of students and, with it, a fresh blend of political ideas, social expectations, academic interests and religious zeal.

To promote understanding and develop well-informed students, Grand Valley State University offers courses and programs for most — if not all — measures of diversity.

Religious thought is no exception, and many students have taken advantage of the religious studies resources to increase their interfaith competence.

Philip Batty of Institutional Analysis said 15.3 percent of current undergraduate students have taken at least one of GVSU’s courses that qualify for the religious studies major, and an additional 2 percent have transferred the equivalents to those courses from other schools.

The university is not solely responsible for spreading understanding, though. Student groups such as the Muslim Student Association devote time to spreading awareness of their faith and campaigning for understanding.

The MSA hosted Kamal Nurridin, a member of the local Islamic community, Feb. 25 to lead a lecture called “Islam 101,” which was the first event of the annual Muslim Awareness Week.

“When I was asked to give this presentation, a note rang in my heart that this was a good presentation to give because, far too often, the general population doesn’t understand who the Muslims are, what they’re about and what they believe in,” Nurridin said.

The speaker discussed the core beliefs, scripture and history of Islam, as well as how people can become Muslim.

Continuing the week of awareness, GVSU professor Sebastian Maisel delivered a lecture Feb. 26 on the spread of Islam through Asia, and chief editor of Azizah Magazine Tayyibah Taylor will discuss the roles and rights of women in Islam on Feb. 28.

The MSA does not stop its efforts at educating the public through pointed lectures, though. The group spreads their faith through poetry Feb. 27 and will host Muslim stand-up comedian Aman Ali on March 1.

University organizations and departments host other faith-based weeks throughout the year, as well as cultural acknowledgements such as the concluding Black History Month and Asian-Pacific Islander Month.

To learn more about faith, culture or other forms of diversity, see what courses GVSU offers in the online course catalog, or scroll the diversity groups on OrgSync.
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