An American university has launched a new center to highlight American Muslim experience and contributions to the society as well as to build belonging for Muslim students in campus.
Launched this week, the Arizona State University’s Center of Muslim Experience (CME-US) aims to advance research and deepen public knowledge on the understudied history of Muslims in the US and their many contributions to American society and culture.
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“In creating the vision of CME-US, we were inspired by ASU’s mission of being ‘measured not by whom we exclude, but rather by whom we include and how they succeed’,” Chad Haines, associate professor of religious studies at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and co-director of CME-US, said in a statement.
“These values connect with Islamic ethics of acceptance and working for the social good that is evident in Muslim American communities and their experiences, providing CME-US a unique opportunity to bridge diverse worlds and advance ASU’s mission.”
The university, which boasts a total enrollment of more than 70,000, is also home to more than 8,000 Muslim students, faculty and staff.
“The Muslim contribution to world history and culture would be difficult to overstate – and the Muslim experience in the United States has helped to shape the nation,” says Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities.
“ASU has a population of over 8,000 Muslim faculty, staff and students. They deserve to have their stories, histories and rich cultures valued and shared.”
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The center will also highlight the diversity and creativity of Muslim Americans and their contributions to American culture by hosting a variety of events including poetry readings and musical performances.
“By creating a space for students to share their own stories, both Muslim and non-Muslim students will benefit from knowing one another and learning to appreciate that socio-cultural differences can benefit improved community-building locally,” Haines added.
The ASU’s new center would build on a few different educational initiatives across the country that are aimed at sharing the story of America’s Muslim populations.
One of the most prominent such centers is the Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington DC which explores Islamic history dating all the way back to the 16th century.
The exact population of Arizona’s Muslim community is unclear, and various reports from local news outlets have pinned the number at anywhere from 50,000 to 120,000.