Middle East studies in the News
University of Toledo Professor Holds Open Lecture About Islamic State [on Ovamir Anjum]
by Danielle Dwyer
A University of Toledo professor, who focuses on Islamic studies, is working to shed some light on the misconceptions of Islamic State.
Dr. Ovamir Anjum, associate professor and chair of Islamic studies at UT, often speaks publicly about religion and ideology, something he says is important whether in times of tragedy or not.
He lived in the Middle East last year and is now talking to students and the general public about topics that normally go unsaid.
"Most of my students had a very narrow view of Islamic State and I wanted to challenge them, you know, you have to challenge your views," Anjum said. "But there's almost a fear of arguing. They say, 'We have never said this out loud before.' And I think that it's something they need."
Now his lectures include frank discussions about Islamic State, a discussion that isn't possible in some countries or might only happen behind closed doors in others.
"In the Middle East, certainly this would be unheard of," he said.
His plan months ago was to do a lecture series on Islamic State in general, asking the question, "Is ISIS Islamic?" And the Paris attacks only added to the conversation.
"I think is an incredible opportunity when this is what makes America a very different and very open and wonderful place that can replenish, if you will, the best kind of thoughts," he said.
And he says this open door discussion is something the Middle East should start accepting.
"I mean, if there's one thing governments and institutions need to learn from the U.S. it's that, you know, people can just talk, even say the wrong things, and it's okay," Anjum said.
He says a university setting like today's breaks down the barriers of stereotypes and allows the mind to open up. And he adds that it's important to diversify your education, something UT students agree with.
"I think that having these kinds of courses are so important anywhere around the world, so I'm really appreciative that we had that," said Fatma Ismail, a junior at UT and Muslim Student Association president.
And fellow student Frankie Baffa, who is studying philosophy, says it's important to find education and information from people like Anjum rather than just the media or internet.
"It's the perfect way to get educated so when you need proper information, it's best to go to someone that knows it properly," Baffa said.
And it's sifting through this kind of information that Anjum says is key.
"We live in a world in which we are over-informed, but under-educated. We have too much information, but so little wisdom, because now the trick is to know what information is worthy and what's not," Anjum said.
Dr. Anjum will continue lectures and open discussions about topics around the Muslim culture, Islam and Islamic State.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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