In 2015, Ball State had students from four out of the 10 countries with the largest Muslim population. Six students made up that small demographic. In the 2015-16 academic year, about 15 percent of the university's total undergraduate enrollment was ethnic minorities.
In hopes of shedding some light on those minorities, the Muslim Student Association president Saleem Abufares, along with members of MSA, voted to host Meet a Muslim. Meet a Muslim is a platform that organizations such as MSA National and WeUnify have used to create conversation.
The event kicks off the organization's Islamic Awareness Week and is just one of the events MSA will host to showcase Islam and Muslim culture.
“I’ve had really good questions about Muslim and Islam on their prayers, for instance, one question was asked, ‘Where do you pray and is there a specific place you pray at?’" Abufares said. "We would usually pray in the direction of the Mecca, but if we don’t really know which direction is, you could pray wherever."
Abufares said the questions have ranged from religious practices, prayer and the Five Pillars.
Islamic Awareness Week
What is Islam?
- 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, David Letterman Communication and Media Building Room 125
Women in Islam, try on a Hijab/Henna
- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Atrium
From Hatred to Understanding: Guest Speaker Richard McKinney
- 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Teachers College Room 107
The idea, Abufares explained, is to help students see Islam from a primary source, instead of the sources they traditionally have access to.
“What you see on the media, what you see on the news isn’t what you see in your own eyes," Abufares said. "Being able to talk to a Muslim, being able to hear what we have to say about our own religion and what we practice would help them view Islam in a better view — they’ll get a better sight on who we really are as a person and what we practice."
The Ball State chapter of MSA is still growing, but the team has core members who have helped the organization along. Sherif Attallah, adviser to MSA, said some Muslims may not want to be a part of the organization.
“It’s a very small association," Attallah said. "Most of the Muslim students are not involved because they are coming from Saudi Arabia, and they don’t want really to be involved for some reasons related to their government."
Despite the low attendance, Attallah said outside of the community he has witnessed a respect and desire to learn more about Islam.
"Very few students in the last two years have got involved with MSA activities, but outside the community of the Muslim students, which is a small community, all what I have seen is respect and actually willingness to know more about Islam in a very peaceful and nice way," Attallah said.
Despite the climate outside of campus, Attallah found that many students on campus don't let outside events sway their opinion of Muslims.
"I think whatever is happening outside university campuses is not really affecting campus life," Attallah said. "Most of the people you meet here are educated or they have enough awareness to deal with Islam and the issues they hear about in the media in a very decent way."
For students who want to know more about the Islamic faith, the Islamic Center is located at 5141 Hessler Road in Muncie.