N. CAROLINA – Students from University of North Carolina made a rare visit to Apex mosque, to get a better understanding of Islam and Muslims, examining their culture and arts outside classrooms.
“I’m interested in learning about other cultures and global perspectives and where different people come from,” Mollie Sullivan, a first-year global studies and peace, war and defense major, told Daily Tarheel on Monday, November 21.
Sullivan said she thought the tour was very well done and informative.
“I liked the informational displays they had out that explained exactly what Islam is and its origins,” she said.
“I also liked how they had a focus on American Muslims and how they have contributed to society.”
Sullivan is one of the UNC students who were invited to the tour by her classmate Samer Alasmar.
“I thought the tour was interesting,” Alasmar said.
“I’ve been to different mosques but never the Apex Mosque.”
The tour was organized and led by Khalid Shahu, an Arabic lecturer within the Department of Asian Studies at UNC.
The trip included a guided tour of the facility and services provided at the Apex Mosque, an exhibition of Arabic art and calligraphy, a showing of the video “Muslims in America” and a speech and prayer.
Shahu said this was the fourth year he and other faculty members have organized this trip to the Apex Mosque.
“We believe that learning the language can be a great opportunity for students to be exposed to other cultures and the building of their understanding of the community,” he said.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding, so we just thought that taking students to the mosque may be a good opportunity for them to learn about the Muslim community and the traditions, the culture and how they contribute to the well-being of the at-large community.”
In addition to teaching Arabic, Shahu is also an Imam, or Muslim community leader, at the Apex Mosque.
“As Imam, I offer a lot of lectures, classes, including Arabic classes, classes about Islam,” he said.
“I also offer social counseling as well as matrimonial counseling for parents and for husbands and wives.”
Shahu said he feels very lucky to have the opportunity to serve two different communities.
“I think the fact that I am acting as an Imam and I am teaching at UNC gives me a chance to help the campus community to get closer and see the Muslim community, which is a part of the entire community here in the Triangle area,” he said.
“We are all human beings and we are all the same,” he said.