Islam Awareness Week Teaches About Muslims in America

November 7, 2000

Source: Indiana Daily Student

On November 7, 2000, the Indiana Daily Student reported that "Indiana University's Islam Awareness Week, which continues through Friday, began with 'Collections and Stories of American Muslims,' sponsored by the Muslim Student Union and Union Board. The exhibit, presented Sunday, showcases the Muslim presence in America from the 1680s to around 1975. 'Most times, when you say you're a Muslim, most people say, 'Oh where are you from?'' said junior Sohaib Sultan, president of the Muslim Student Union. 'But you don't have to be from somewhere else. Muslims have a huge history in this country.' Amir Muhammad coordinates the exhibit, which was created in 1996 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating others about America's Islamic history and culture. Islam is one of the world's most important and influential religions, he said, yet it is often considered a young religion in the United States. Most people associate Islam in America with the Nation of Islam, but do not realize the centuries of influence that came before that, Muhammad said. The exhibit is designed to fill this gap, he said. Sophomore Naimah Bilal, vice president of the Muslim Student Union, said the organization decided to invite the exhibit to open Islam Awareness Week because it is renowned nationwide. 'CSAM's traveling museum is known around the country in Muslim circles for the wonderful documentation of Muslims in America," Bilal said. "Given the fact that many people perceive Islam to be a relatively new entity in America, it is very important to let people know that the history extends across seven centuries. It's exciting knowledge. Very revolutionary in that so many Muslims have paved the way for this America we know. It is our obligation to make people aware that Muslims helped to build this country.' Muhammad said many people overlook the presence of Islam in America because of negative media attention and the desire of American Muslims to keep a low profile, yet this is an important part of American history that should not be ignored, he said...Muslims are still an important force in America, Muhammad said. There are about 600 mosques in the United States and more than three million adherents to the religion. The Muslim community continues to grow through new generations of native-born Muslims, immigrants and converts, the exhibit stated. Lori Goshert, a senior, said she converted her sophomore year. 'The religion really clicked with me," she said. "I realized I believed in everything and got in touch with some friends in my dorm who helped to set me up with a mentor and teacher here. I learned to pray and attended services at the mosque, and then studied at home on my own in the summer. I converted when I got to school my sophomore year.' "

See also: Islam, Campus