MINNESOTA – Students at University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, were invited to discover Islam during an interfaith event held at their new interfaith center to mark Islamic holiday `Eid Al-Adha.
“The Eid al-Adha, which is a rough equivalent of Christmas in Islam, is a huge event that is happening that is important for Muslim students,” Othman Zeimi, adviser of the Diversity Activities Board (DAB) told Tommie Media on Tuesday, September 20.
“The Muslim Student Association and the Saudi Club have both created events around this, but St. Thomas itself has almost never done something around this event, so we wanted to give a chance for St. Thomas to celebrate.”
`Eid Al-Adha, or “Feast of Sacrifice”, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.
This year, it began on September 12 and wrapped up on September 15.
For students at St. Thomas University, the holiday was a chance to know more about Islam and Muslims.
Moreover, the event was an interactive way to introduce students to the new location of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center and the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, which has now combined under one name; the Centers for Interreligious Understanding.
Dominic Longo, the director of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center, was excited to get students acquainted with the new location.
“We wanted to have a couple of events to introduce the whole university community to our new space,” Longo said.
“We are very excited to have this new Diversity Activities Board as a natural partner for the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center because this space is really designed for students to make use of and to feel welcome at.”
The event featured educational posters about Islam, Middle-Eastern appetizers, and live Arabic music.
The band Amwaj, meaning waves in Arabic, is a music ensemble that travels around the Twin Cities playing traditional music.
Posters featuring common topics and questions regarding Islam such as the Qur’an and the five pillars lined the walls, opening up discussion and creating a natural flow throughout the house acting as a self-guided tour.
Other events were also planned by interfaith center to continue the dialogue about Islamic culture.
“I have ideas for them to travel to church congregations and public high schools, like maybe before a speaker from St. Thomas or a Muslim resource group goes to a school or a church to talk, maybe these posters are displayed there for a week first,” Longo said.
“It’s kind of a low key way for Islamic education to happen.”
Attendants were excited to gain a new perspective about Islam.
“I always like to learn about other faiths,” Junior Diana Nguyen, who attended the event, said.
“Right now I’m in Theology 101 so I thought it would be interesting, since we’re learning about Bible creation stories, to learn about Islam as well.”
The event was organized by three advisers representing Diversity & Inclusion Services, the Office of International Students & Scholars, Campus Life and six student interns.
“We represent three different offices that have a stake in making sure these programs happen,” Zeimi said.
“We also share our experiences. Our role is to guide the students.”
Senior Emma Kopp, programming intern for DAB, vowed to continue hard work to achieve their goals to educate, engage and enrich students on social justice and inclusion.
“I think it’s really important in creating students who are well-versed in the world and good leaders, because that’s a goal at St. Thomas, to advance the common good,” Kopp said.
“I believe that we are doing that by providing events that wouldn’t usually exist on campus.”