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Michigan University Starts Islamic Engagement Week

Michigan University Starts Islamic Engagement Week
LSA sophomore Fareah Fysudeen performs a poem at the Muslim Creatives Collect at the Kerrytown Concert House Monday evening. (Claire Meingast/Daily)

About 75 students attended the ‘Muslim Creatives Collect’ event which was hosted on April 1 by the Muslim Students’ Association at the University of Michigan.

The event is the first program of the Islamic Engagement Week, which is an initiative aimed at highlighting the narratives, history, and culture of Muslims, Michigan Daily reports.

“I heard it through word-of-mouth, in terms of organization for the event, I think this’s a perfect venue for what it is,” expressed Gabriel Consiglio, Art & Design freshman.

“I’ve never been to something like this before, so the format of this’s pretty interesting. I like the blend of discussion and art.”

The event consisted of performances involving music, poetry, and dance as well as a panel discussing the current and future status of Muslim creatives in the US.

Along with the event, the Islamic Engagement Week will also include a ‘Muslims in Astronomy’ event today on April 2, a ‘Meet a Muslim’ event on Wednesday and a ‘Muslims in the Arts’ event Friday afternoon.

Consiglio further appreciated the students’ association’s decision to pause the event to allow everyone time to pray.

“I think it’s very cool that they’re taking out the time to pray. Being someone who is not entirely in this religion, I think this is really important,” he said.

Expressing Yourself

Rackham student Bedar Noor participated in yesterday’s event as part of a step performance. He spoke about his appreciation for step and the way in which it has allowed him to express himself.

“Step is a great way to show that you can join an organization that is rooted in different cultures and histories and I wanted to show to everyone that there is a different medium to express yourself,” he said.

He further added: “I love the panel. Really being able to show not just that (the panelists) are artists but why they became artists is really a great thing and really is eye-opening. A lot of the times, you think that it’s just STEM, but there are other things that you can do too, especially if you have that creativity.”

During the panel discussion, LSA sophomore Basil Alsubee spoke about his views on the state of Muslim artists in the US.

“I’ve just been really looking for a platform to speak to the Muslim community, which is my own community, about the work that I do and art and culture and media of Islam as it pertains to the Muslim community,” he said.

The speaker also said: “We think about a lot of similar things, but I think we fill each other’s gaps. I was really struck by the insightful processing of art and media that they’ve had — their own experiences, both the similarities and differences.”

Alsubee informed about his personal interest in Islamic history and desire to go to other events in the Islamic Engagement Week.

“I really want to go to the under-represented perspectives. I’ve become interested in the topic as someone who studies history. I’m really interested in historical silences and things that are just generally difficult to come by, both the historical record and contemporary culture.”

Muslims make up 1% of America’s 322 million population, according to the Pew Research center.

On the other hand, Islam in America effectively began with the arrival of African slaves. It’s estimated that about 10% of African slaves transported to the US were Muslim. Most, however, became Christians.

Even though, in the 1940s, Islam gained a higher profile through the Nation of Islam, a religious group that appealed to African Americans. The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, is the largest mosque in the US.

Muslim students usually engage in activities in and outside campus.

Earlier this month, Muslim students in New Jersey  Seton Hall University hosted Islamic Awareness Week this week to foster interfaith unity and encourage the university’s community to come together.


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