Arts & Culture / Mosaic / May 25, 2011

Faith mixer opens dialogue

More than 20 people came together in Ferris Lounge this past Thursday in order to discuss religion and how it affects everyone. The “Faith Mixer,” was hosted by the Islamic Club to “establish an interfaith conversation on campus,” as club president sophomore Rana Tahir put it.

“We want to revolutionize how religion is talked about,” Tahir said. She described how the public often only hears of the political implications, the differences on deities and what comes after death, but lacks a discussion on the everyday impacts religion has on individuals.

By having a forum where people can hold this everyday dialogue, an interfaith connection will be created where people will discuss the differences while finding common grounds in all faiths, allowing for understanding and accepting of all religions, an important step in religious tolerance.

While Knox is an understanding institution in theory, ignorance is still “rampant” here and in Galesburg, said Tahir. Tahir wants to instigate this religious discussion everywhere, not allow it to be limited to the classroom.

The different religious clubs may give students of the same faith a place to express themselves, but because they do not interact with one another regularly, there is a conversation that is missing. The Islamic Club wants to change this, which is why all religious clubs are invited to their meetings and the reason they hosted this meeting.

During this discussion fears and personal interpretations of religion were espoused. One issue brought up at the meeting is that people are interested in discussing religion, but often afraid of sounding like they are attempting to convert, while others may be afraid to ask about someone else’s religion.

Another issue addressed was stereotyping. People explained how they felt judged and admitted to judging others. Tahir said this “vulnerability” allowed for a more potent connection between people.

Those in attendance appeared to have nothing but praise for the Faith Mixer. Senior April Ulinski said, “I was really excited [about the Faith Mixer].” Chances to have an open discussion on religion are rare, but always important, she added.

The forum’s importance was echoed by junior Lucas Molina.

“For a place so liberal, [Knox] should foster more religious discussion,” he said. He said this meeting was a step in the right direction.

Tahir described the event as a success. She was pleased with the attendance and that “people really opened up.” Tahir said the mixer would become an annual event.

While Islamic Club’s main goal is to educate people about Islam, they want people to learn about all religions because, as Tahir pointed out, “every faith benefits from learning about other [religions].” And, with the dialogue they have opened, it is a way to benefit everyone.

Ian Malone

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