Skyline learns about Islam


Laurel B. Lujan

Skyline students Nena Darwin and Khin Thar are serving Halal food in the Fireside Room in building six on April 11 during the Islam 101 event to students.

Cultural events that focused on educating Skyline College about Islam and what it is about took place on Monday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 13.

The first event was called Islam 101, where tables were set up for students to observe and ask questions about Islam and the culture surrounding the religion.

Haneen Alkusari, psychology and communications major, worked with the Associated Students of Skyline College (ASSC) and others to spread awareness about Islam and what it is about.

“We hope to inform people about Islam and better educate them,” Alkusari said. “Media really hasn’t been doing a great job.”

Mainstream media, such as Fox News, portrays Islam as an extremist religion that is associated with ISIS. But ISIS does not represent what Islam is actually about.

“Especially since a lot of extreme attacks have been going on throughout the world a lot of people have been mistaking those attacks for Islam,” Alkusari said. “When in reality extremists do not represent Islam at all and it contradicts the rules and bases of Islam, so that’s what we hope to accomplish today.”

Traditional Muslim food was served at the event.

This food was Halal. This means the food (or at least the animal) needs to be separated for slaughter, so it doesn’t instill fear inside other livestock. The knife also has to be very sharp, to cut the animal’s throat to drain the blood. Pork is not consumable because of potential bacteria and illness associated with the meat.

There was also a hijab booth, where women experienced wearing a hijab to better understand what a hijab is.

Other activities consisted of trivia facts and Arabic calligraphy, where students got their names written out in Arabic.

The panel discussion, done the next day of the same week, titled Islamophobia, was supposed to have four panelists, but only three could make it.

Those that made it were Skyline student Haneen Alkusari, Kashif Abdullah, who opened the first full time Islamic School in San Francisco, and Zahra Billoo, a civil rights attorney and executive director of the nation’s largest American Muslims civil rights organization, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). Amir Abdul Malik could not make it.

The topics discussed in the panel pertained to what Islam is as a religious practice and what Muslims as people experience in America. Skyline students participated as well, with questions and comments addressed to the panelists.

For both events, the ASSC and students like Hannen wanted to educate Skyline students and help them understand a different culture and religion.

Most likely next year there will be more events for students to participate in, to educate the ignorant and help them understand.

“I am appreciative [the students] are taking the time to discuss among themselves and learn from each other on how there are similarities and differences,” Billoo said.

Billoo said in response to Skyline’s efforts to have more panels like this.

Alkusaria did say that Skyline has reserved a prayer room for Muslim students as well, but only at limited times due to space concerns. There might be plans in the future to establish a Muslim Student Association, but there is no guarantee at the moment.