Campus / News / February 13, 2013

Faith mixer sparks discussion of divine

Senior and Islamic Club president Rana Tahir opened the Faith Mixer on Thursday, Feb. 7 in Ferris Lounge by saying, “Faith, in some ways, is a very fluid term.”

The Islamic Club held the mixer, though the event was open to students and members of the Knox community of various faiths.  Students made themselves comfortable on couches and opened up about their beliefs and views in a welcoming, informal environment.

Though fewer than 10 students were present, the atmosphere was lively and the students appeared passionate.

The topic of conversation was showing faith on a daily basis. Many students talked about praying daily, attending church or personal meditation as a means to get closer to one’s faith. Tahir brought up questions that developed into topics of conversation as students grew passionate and opened up about their personal beliefs.

“We have a different theme every term and always think about what questions are interesting and that people of different faiths can talk about,” Tahir said. “We choose something that’s general enough, but [can be brought] back to Knox, because that’s where we live. [We ask] what can you do in your community right now? I’m pushing for the activist in all of us.”

One topic of conversation was the “Muslim Patrol” — a group of Muslim men in England who have targeted Muslim areas to harass and badger Muslims who are not practicing Islam the way the “Muslim Patrol” believes they should. The “Muslim Patrol” post videos to YouTube of their patrols and harassments.

“Is there a line [between] how you think and how you feel versus how you act?” Tahir prompted. “There’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Where’s the line?”

These questions encouraged a lot of discussion.

The biannual Faith Mixers started in 2011 by the Islamic Club when Terry Jones, a pastor in Florida, outwardly burned Qurans, which are Islamic scriptures. The Islamic Club decided then that they wanted to initiate religious dialogue on campus and bridge gaps between faiths.

During the mixer, students also discussed the possibility of a religious “hub” on campus that would be open to students to pray, learn about different religions and celebrate religious holidays. This also instigated a discussion about diversity and raising religious tolerance on campus.

The Faith Mixer was informative and diverse as students brought several different viewpoints to the table.

“I identify as someone who doesn’t have a place for god in their lives,” freshman Adrian Secter said. “I felt it was a good place to be, because there needs to be a bunch of different voices heard. I’d like to say I threw some not-God into the mix of talking about God. Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean you should be excluded from the conversation about religious stuff. It was a fairly welcoming atmosphere, as Knox generally is.”

Both the Islamic Club, and members of different faiths appeared to enjoy themselves.

“I enjoy these kinds of discussions because nothing is off the table, and this is partly my way of getting closer to my faith,” Tahir said. “I’m creating what I want at Knox, and that drives me. I usually come out feeling enlightened and inspired.”

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  faith faith mixer islamic club religion understanding

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