I was recently at a meeting on campus in which concerned students, staff and faculty discussed ways to proactively respond to the aftermath of Sept. 11, and bridge understanding between cultural and religious groups. Many of those in attendance, especially members of the Muslim community, such as myself, agreed that it is our responsibility to increase the Ball State community's awareness of Islam, rather than merely feel angry over the media's representation of Muslims.
I realize, however, that we cannot do this alone; there needs to be an openness to accept our message. I'm not certain the door is open yet. For example, some of my Muslim friends contacted the Daily News prior to the beginning of Ramadan (our holy month) on Nov. 16. They offered resources and contact information about Ramadan, a time that is our equivalent of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter combined.
However, there was no mention of the holy month. Not acknowledging Ramadan is very disappointing, especially for international Muslim students away from their homes for the holidays, but it is also dismissive of American Muslims who comprise nearly the second largest religious group in the nation. Little is known about the peace-loving religion of Islam at Ball State, outside of extreme and sensationalized images.
Muslims on campus have provided the Daily News with information on Islam, in general, but nothing appears in print. If BSU wishes to be seen as appreciative of diversity, changes must be made in students' commitment and ability to receive new information -- information that may not fit old stereotypes. We wish to dispel myths about us and reach out to others with love and understanding. Do non-Muslims want the same?