Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election and events that have transpired since, the country has found itself in an increasingly polarized political world—and some marginalized groups have become collateral damage.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world and of its 1.8 billion followers, one percent are Americans.
On Sept.14, the Mesa College Muslim Student Association hosted "Islam and Islamophobia in America: What You Need to Know" with lecture being led by Imam Karim AbuZaid, Colorado Muslims Society Imam and Islamic Studies PhD Candidate. AbuZaid outlined the core principles of Islam, clarified common misconceptions, and commended America for allowing us all to experience the freedom of religion separate from culture.
AbuZaid offered his perspective on Islamophobia as a Muslim American leader saying, "I have to stand up in front of my community and ask them to be patient. It is my responsibility as a leader to build bridges."
Partially based on Judeo-Christian religions, Islam is a monotheistic faith in which believers "surrender" to the will of Allah and accept Prophet Muhammad as His Final Messenger. Islam, like many religions, preaches kindness, tolerance, and peace. The main sources of the religion are the Quran, a revelation from God, and the Hadith, a collection of accounts and traditions of Prophet Muhammad's life. Practices unique to Islam can be arranged into five main pillars: testimony of faith, prayers, prescribed charity, fasting the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Islamophobia is prejudice against Islam and Muslims, typically begot by preconceived notions and uninformed, biased evaluation.
AbuZaid emphasized that Islam does not condone terrorism; Muslims are not even allowed to harm plants unnecessarily. He continued by saying that to associate a mainstream religious community with terrorist attacks carried out by an extreme fundamentalist subset of the said religious group, in this case, radical Islam, is nothing more than a weak enumerative induction.
He said that everyone, regardless of their denomination—–Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, or Islam—must abide by the laws of the country they live in, even if they may contradict with their religious practices or beliefs.
"Tolerance lies not in our beliefs, but the way in which we interact with each other," said AbuZaid.
How can Mesa students and faculty take on a more active role in preventing the dissemination of misinformation and promoting tolerance on campus? AbuZaid says to get educated, whether this means reaching out to Muslim peers, visiting a Mosque, or doing research of your own.