More Understanding Of Islam Is Needed, Lecturers Tell MSU Crowd

February 19, 2009

Author: Anne Pettinger

Source: MSU News Service

The executive director of a California-based council on American and Islamic relations told hundreds of people gathered at Montana State University Wednesday night that Muslims are a very diverse group of people and simply cannot be categorized in any one way.

Muslims are "as diverse as America," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Southern California. "Day to day, American Muslims are no different than any other person in America," he later added.

With 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, which is about one-fourth of the world's population, it's important for other groups of people, such as Christians, to learn about Muslims, Ayloush said.

"We can't afford to be at odds with one another," Ayloush said.

Ayloush visited MSU along with Aminah Assilmi, director of the International Union of Muslim Women, as lecturers at a free, one-day symposium geared to local understanding of Islam. The symposium, which was sponsored by MSU's Diversity Awareness Office and the Muslim Student Association, included the evening lectures, an afternoon panel discussion and film screenings.

Ayloush, who spoke about "What it means to be a Muslim in America," discussed various pieces of information about the religion. That information ranged from the difference between Islam and Muslims (Islam is the name of the religion, and Muslims are followers of Islam) to demographics of Muslims in the U.S. to results of a Pew Research Study that noted 53 percent of Muslims said it is more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since 9/11, while 40 percent of Muslims said it hasn't changed.

See also: Islam, Campus