The Muslim Student Union is hosting a weekly discussion circle called Islam 101 on campus. It is open for all to join, to read excerpts from the Noble Quran in English and share their interpretations. The gathering is held Thursdays at 5 p.m. in the McCleary Chapel, where students form a circle and take turns reading translations of the text.
Junior sociology and philosophy major and member of the Muslim Student Organization Ahmed Zakarya Mitiche helped put together the Islam 101 group discussion.
“Basically what we do is we’ll take turns reading and if anybody has any questions, or they want to make a point, or have an observation that they want to share, then it’s really open for them,” he said.
Since the group discussion is not an actual class that requires enrollment or counts for credit, people choose to learn about the Islamic writings of the Quran to broaden their knowledge of Islam, which according to whichcountry.com, is one of the most practiced religions in the world.
“Since there is no teacher or anything like that, what happens a lot of times is if somebody has a question about an interpretation or something, usually what we’ll do is go back after the session, do our research independently and share what we found the following week, so we help each other learn,” Mitiche said.
Islam 101 attendees usually range from three to 10 students but faculty and staff members, who also have their own directions in what they hope to generate from the discussions, also join.
“There are Muslim students that come who are often just trying to reconnect with the Revelation. But actually, the majority of people that come are not Muslim and are usually just curious about the religion or the Text and want to learn about it,” Mitiche said. “We’ve had Muslim students from Saudi Arabia, American Christians, American Buddhists.”
Mitiche said Islam 101 is about educating and discussing, not convincing people to convert.
“Personally, I don’t see it as trying to convert people or anything,” he said. “But what it does for me is it helps me see my own scripture, and what I believe is the Revelation in different perspectives, because people from different backgrounds might see things in another way.”
The Muslim Student Organization’s aim in establishing Islam 101 is to communicate a rather enlightening and influential approach to the teachings of the Quran and discard any misconceptions or stereotypical connotations associated with that.
“I believe the number one reason why hate and discrimination exists is because it stems from fear, and fear stems from unknowing,” Mitiche said. “You fear what you don’t know, so simply getting to know the other is automatically going to put you in a better situation.”