Brigham Younger College’s scholar middle has had a devoted Muslim prayer room for greater than 15 years, however a second one opened Monday and Tuesday within the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Guests Middle whereas it hosted a serious convention on Islam.
The short-term prayer room was a part of the primary impression made by BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on lots of the internationally famend contributors, together with Dalia Fahmy, the chair of Worldwide Relations and Diplomacy at Lengthy Island College.
“Of the entire tutorial conferences I’ve been to, being right here within the LDS neighborhood you’re feeling the urgency of wanting to beat numerous the challenges our nation’s going through,” she stated. “So, it’s not your typical tutorial convention in that we’re merely presenting concepts. I consider that we’re having a deeper dialog about presumably attending to options that overcome numerous the variations.”
Fahmy and different convention audio system battered widespread American and European misperceptions of Islam and Muslims.
“Islamophobia is irrational,” Fahmy stated throughout her presentation, during which she argued that anti-Muslim sentiment subverts elementary American constitutional, social, spiritual and cultural values about inclusion and understanding.
Latter-day Saint leaders have lengthy sought interfaith understanding with Muslims and others, stated convention chair Grant Underwood, who holds BYU’s Richard L. Evans Chair of Non secular Understanding.
Elders David A. Bednar and Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will communicate at 8 p.m. Tuesday in BYU’s Joseph Smith Constructing auditorium on “Muslims and Latter-day Saints: Understanding One One other.”
Frequent floor for Muslims and Latter-day Saints
Muslims and Latter-day Saints commonly work collectively on marriage, household and religious freedom points. The church’s total First Presidency has spoken out on behalf of Muslims or, like just about all members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, joined Islamic leaders at main worldwide conferences. Latter-day Saint Charities commonly companions with local and international Muslim reduction organizations, which has included multimillion-dollar donations to Islamic Reduction USA.
“There’s a gradual historic stream of interfaith outreach and appreciation for different faiths in our Latter-day Saint historical past,” Underwood stated. “Individuals don’t know that, however we will doc it in each decade of this dispensation.”
The convention, titled “The Islamic World As we speak: Points and Views,” emerged out of rising pursuits amongst Latter-day Saint leaders and BYU school and college students. BYU has a joint Center Japanese Research and Arabic program.
“We’re all in sync right here,” Underwood stated. “The church management is main out, and there’s a concurrent sensibility right here on campus that one thing like this is able to be fascinating and acceptable. These sensibilities got here collectively to generate the convention.”
Private interactions cut back misperceptions
Fahmy stated 76% of Individuals have unfavorable associations with the phrases Muslim and Islam.
“What I didn’t say,” she instructed the Deseret Information afterward, “is there’s a crucial mitigator that drops that 76% all the way down to 30% or so, and that’s understanding a Muslim and interacting with one and realizing that all of us need our youngsters to go to high school and develop up and be wholesome and we’re civic-minded and we care concerning the setting. That one mitigator is understanding and interacting with a Muslim, after which the unfavorable notion drops dramatically.
“So in case you are the typical BYU scholar or Latter-day Saint, it’s necessary to know a Muslim, and it’s additionally incumbent upon Muslims to know a member of the church. I actually do consider that it’s that interplay that’s going to assist us construct these bridges, overcome numerous the social ills and actually understand the beliefs of the nation.”
Muslim and Latter-day Saint leaders around the globe have discovered widespread floor on many non secular points, and the Church of Jesus Christ works carefully with Muslim political leaders around the globe, from the Center East to Africa and Southeast Asia. For instance, Elder Bednar has traveled extensively to Muslim-majority nations as president of the church’s Center East Africa North Space. Final month, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with important Muslim leaders from Azerbaijan, Sudan and different nations on the G20 Interfaith Discussion board in Italy.
American hysteria: The latest rise of anti-Muslim sentiment
Different convention panelists included Georgetown’s John Esposito, whom Underwood referred to as the dean of Islamic Research in america, and Debora Jones, a BYU graduate who’s the previous U.S. ambassador to Kuwait.
Esposito, 81, stated Muslims have been basically invisible in America till the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Within the Nineteen Nineties, some outstanding teachers wrote about Islam as a triple menace — historic, geographic and demographic — bent on a conflict of civilizations.
The Sept. 11 assaults ratcheted up and globalized the worry of a menace, however what Fahmy referred to as an American hysteria actually started in 2010 and was fueled by political technique and media hype, Esposito stated.
“Damaging perceptions immediately are worse than they have been one week after 9/11,” Fahmy added.
For instance, a examine of American and European journalism discovered that in 2001, 2% of tales introduced pictures of Muslim militance and 0.1% confirmed mainstream Muslims. In 2011, 25% of items portrayed militance whereas these about mainstream Muslims remained the identical. By 2015, 80% of items have been about militance and terrorism.
“Islamophobia has turn into normalized internationally,” Esposito stated, including that “There are Muslims who hate us, but it surely’s a fraction of a fraction.”
Knowledge reveals that American Muslims are economically, educationally and socially built-in into what Esposito referred to as the mosaic of america.
Muslims within the American mosaic
“Our obligation is to construct a world the place we will have our variations and but see everyone as having a proper to citizenship, to a part of the mosaic,” he stated.
Fahmy stated anti-Muslim rhetoric has turn into a political technique, with hysteria about the potential of the U.S. turning into Islamized or Arabized popping up when it helps candidates elevate cash and win elections, then disappearing afterward.
Fahmy identified that Muslims have fought for america in each conflict from the American Revolution to the conflict on terror, and American leaders have been declaring the fitting of Individuals to worship as Muslims or part of every other religion from the nation’s founding.
“That is antithetical to the material of our nation,” she stated of Islamophobia, which she stated has turn into a political technique.
“The start of the Islamophobia business — $50 million a yr to tarnish the picture of Islam within the West as anti-West, anti-women, antisemitic, anti-justice, offended and anti-everything — is a enterprise.”
Among the many results is disgrace and ache for younger American Muslims.
“They more and more see the percentages are stacked in opposition to them,” Fahmy stated. “It’s loopy how second-generation American Muslims really feel like they belong greater than third- and fourth-generation American Muslims. And this in the end shapes how they determine. As a result of once you really feel such as you don’t belong, and also you’re instructed that you just don’t belong, you would possibly begin to consider that you just don’t belong.”
Fahmy’s assertion that many younger American Muslims commonly conceal their spiritual id shocked BYU scholar Bryndal Braithwaite, 21, a freshman from Houston.
“That shouldn’t be occurring,” she stated. “I’ve seen each side, numerous acceptance for Muslims and shut buddies deeply dedicated to how they reside, however deep-seated phobias locally.”
Braithwaite’s world religions professor canceled class and provided further credit score to college students who attended the convention. She was grateful.
“I believe it’s a extremely necessary dialog to be having,” she stated, “and I actually respect BYU is having it. It’s a very good place for it.”
Fahmy and Esposito want to see extra Individuals get to know extra of their Muslim neighbors.
“It’s the Muslim subsequent door” who holds the important thing, Esposito stated in an interview.
Consciousness and understanding of the Muslims in a single’s neighborhood can lead, Fahmy stated, to the inclusive perspective of a Texas trucker who was offended when a mosque in his metropolis was set on hearth.
“They could be Muslims,” he stated indignantly, “however they’re our rattling Muslims.”