SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — As the holy fasting month of Ramadan is knocking doors, a Connecticut library is planning a series of lectures about Islam to educate the society about the Muslim faith, its culture and women rights.
“We’ve had specific requests from patrons for a better understanding of Middle Eastern culture and Islam,” Beth Devlin, Community Services Librarian at the Wallingford library, told Record-Journal.
“Our patrons never cease to amaze us here. They’re so well read and well informed — so many of them are life-long learners.”
Seeing an increasing interest in Islam since the 9/11, the Wallingford library announced a new program for different lectures about Islam on Wednesday, July 18.
The program includes different lectures on the history of Islam, hijab and the three Abrahamic faiths.
“A lot more has emerged on women in Islam,” Professor June-Ann Greeley, the director of Middle Eastern studies at the Fairfield school, said.
Greeley decided to launch the series because the topic resonates with Westerners.
She plans to begin the lecture discussing the history of Islam — its inception and propagation.
“Go back to a 7th century view ... what Christianity and Judaism was not doing for that population,” Greeley said.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
According to astronomical calculations, the holy fasting month will start on Friday, July 20.
The new series would shed light on some misconceptions about rights of Muslim women and hijab.
“There’s nothing negative or feeling oppressed if they wear the hijab,” Greeley said, based on her discussions with students from the Middle East and North Africa.
“The hijab for them, it’s a religious artifact, not done for sociopolitical reasons.”
She added that many women like wearing the hijab to honor their religion, calling on Westerners and feminists to honor women’s own voices.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Greely will also discuss contemporary issues affecting Muslim women, drawing on literature as well as conversations she’s had with Muslim students.
Another lecture by Greeley on August 16, would look into the Abrahamic prophets and the ties and differences among Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
“They are, after all, cousins, essentially,” Greeley said.
Further lectures depend on patron interest and Greeley’s teaching schedule come fall, Devlin said.
“So far it’s a wonderful partnership; I’m really excited,” Devlin said.
Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly seven million Muslims.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least "a little" prejudice against Muslims. — www.shafaqna.com/english/