Muslim, Christian students and faculty have open discussion on faith, tensions

BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – On a day when tensions against the Muslim community in the U.S. again rose sharply following terrorist bombings in Belgium, students at Campbell University met to learn more about and better understand each other’s faiths.

Our Place at the Table, hosted Tuesday night by Campus Ministry, invited Muslim and non-Muslim students and faculty for a discussion on the Islamic faith. The evening included three speakers who provided insight on Muslim culture and religion and a round-table dialogue between students of different faiths.

“It was good to see a strong representation from students, faculty and staff,” said Dean for Spiritual Life Faithe Beam. “The conversations were rich and meaningful, allowing participants to learn from each other and, in particular, learn more about the Islamic experience of our students.”

Justin Cox, a senior Christian ministries student, said he was unsure heading in how the program would be received, but by night’s end, all he could find were positives.

“It was awesome seeing the response from those in attendance,” he said.

Omnya Shiglawi, a junior studying clinical research, attributed the positive response to having so many in attendance who were eager to see what she and other Muslim Arab-Americans had to say.

Despite cultural differences and current tensions, she said she feels many in the U.S. “seem to really want to make and be the change.”

“This event was very important because of everything that is happening across the world,” she said. “Many innocent people are being killed due to few people who have gone astray from Islam.”

Shiglawi and her group stressed that Islam is a peaceful religion. The root of the misunderstandings between the faiths is ignorance, according to Glenn Jonas, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

“The more we can dialogue with people who have a different faith than our own, the better we will understand that all humans are very similar to each other,” Jonas said. “The more of these kind of events we have, the better. And I am very happy that students are taking ownership of this event.”

— Matthew Sokol is a junior journalism major at Campbell University