Why I Study Islam

DISC faculty liaisons have issued a joint statement to state representatives condemning the recent Executive Order that suspended visas and immigration benefits to individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the name of “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” In addition to this, DISC is reaching out to students, faculty, and staff to gather testimonials about their interest in Islam in an effort to demonstrate why it is important for the public to engage in intercultural exchanges with Muslims in America.

 

If you are interested in taking the survey and being included on our website, please email us at digital.islam@umich.edu.

 

Ariel Mallett : DISC Project Coordinator

Ariel Mallett

DISC Project Coordinator

"I decided to begin the study of Islam and Arabic in my Junior year of college. In doing so, I hoped that by understanding these major currents of life in the Middle East I would be able to help others around me be more compassionate in their views. As the Project Coordinator for DISC, I am given the opportunity every day to facilitate undergraduate students education on topics pertaining to Islam, thus actively dismantling a number of preconceived notions people may have and helping them to approach people who are different from themselves in a more compassionate way."

Meghan Hough : Social Media and Communications Intern

Meghan Hough

Social Media and Communications Intern

"Islam, or people's assumptions about Islam, became very visible in the media and in the world in general during my childhood. As such, I wanted to learn more about Islam for myself, instead of relying on often biased information given by the media or present in my environment...It's critical for us to try to understand values, ideals and practices that are important to other people. Especially within the United States, people with different ideas and religions often are automatically 'othered', simply because of a lack of knowledge. Making an attempt to learn more about, and study Islam, is one of the first steps in developing a community that includes, instead of excludes based on 'otherness'."

Jonathan Brockopp : DISC Faculty Liaison, Pennsylvania State University

Jonathan Brockopp

DISC Faculty Liaison, Pennsylvania State University

"My first experience with Islam was when I was in college in Indiana. Some of my friends were from Syria and I took a couple of courses in comparative religion. Much later, I had a chance to study Arabic in Tunisia and Egypt, and it was living in Muslim countries that really sparked my interest. The devotion to family and tradition is so similar to my Midwestern upbringing...I enjoy teaching Muslim cultures because I love introducing students to one of the world's great artistic, literary, and religious traditions. It is impossible to appreciate European history and culture without knowing the history of interaction - positive and negative - with the Muslim world."

Charles Haberl : DISC Faculty Liaison, Rutgers University

Charles Haberl

DISC Faculty Liaison, Rutgers University

"As a scholar of the human experience and our shared intangible inheritance, I study Islam to appreciate the diverse experiences of the billions of my fellow human beings who identify as Muslim, at home and abroad, as well as to understand better the broad spectrum of social and cultural diversity across humanity."

Valerie Hoffman : DISC Faculty Liaison, University of Illinois Urbabna-Champaign

Valerie Hoffman

DISC Faculty Liaison, University of Illinois Urbabna-Champaign

"My graduate studies opened my eyes in unanticipated ways—as if all my life I had been living in a box without realizing it, surrounded by invisible walls and narrow horizons, but now I was acquiring expansive new insights into the history of human societies and intellectual life. I was fascinated by Islamic theology, philosophy and mysticism, and by the ways that Muslims were thinking through what it meant to be a Muslim in the modern age...Although Islam doesn’t explain everything in Muslim societies, the study of Islam is a wonderful introduction to societies across a remarkably broad geographical range, from West Africa to Central Asia and down to Southeast Asia. Because there is so much misinformation about Islam and Muslims in the media today, which stokes irrational fears, it would be wonderful if everyone learned about Islam and Muslim societies from informed sources."

Mohammad Khalil : DISC Faculty Liaison, Michigan State University

Mohammad Khalil

DISC Faculty Liaison, Michigan State University

"In short, I was fascinated by the rich diversity that exists among the adherents of Islam...Islam is the world's second largest religion. Indonesia is the country with the world's largest Muslim population. And although most Arabs are Muslim, most Muslims are non-Arab. There is a rich diversity within Islam that many people are simply unaware of."