Clearing up Islamic misconceptions at Real Talk


Guest Speakers Amra Abdullah (right), Sajdah Habeeb (middle), and Naimah Epps (left) answer questions about their practices during their discussion on women of Islam who identify as Muslim in the Multicultural Center on Wednesday February 20th 2013.. Photo by Emily Lambillotte.

Kelsey Leyva

Students, faculty and staff gained a better understanding of Islam Wednesday night at the Real Talk conversation Cultural Knowledge: Women of Islam.

Tina Brown, clerical specialist for the Office of Advising and Academic Services, and members of the Sisters of the Akron Masjid, Amra Abdullah, Naimah Epps and Sajdah Habeeb, led the discussion. The purpose of the event was to share insight and clear up common misconceptions associated with the religion.

Throughout the course of the presentation, the women covered the topics of their personal convert stories, cultural misconceptions and fallacies related to their personal and professional life. Some of the misunderstandings covered in the program included, but were not limited to, marriage, wardrobe choices and the oppression of women.

“One of the things that drew me to the religion was just the level of respect that women in the religion get that I didn’t feel that I was offered as a non-Muslim,” Epps said. “The fact that a woman’s role as far as wife and mother, those things are revered in Islam.”

Epps described Islam as more than just a religion.

“It was a commitment; it’s a lifestyle change,” Epps said. “It’s not just a religion. We say it’s our Deen, Deen meaning way of life. It’s more than just a belief. It’s every aspect of our lives are governed by our religion.”

Ryan Stout, sophomore early childhood education major, said that he learned a lot at the event and was surprised that more students didn’t attend.

“It’s made me think, and it’s opened my thoughts to just the world and religion as well,” Stout said. “I’ve never been not impressed by the events. I always learn a lot.”

Trinidy Jeter, program coordinator for the Student Multicultural Center, invited Brown to speak and saw the event as just a part to a bigger picture.

“Hopefully this is just the beginning of what we hope to produce as a Multicultural Center,” Jeter said. “It’s about showing appreciation, openness and reflection about different culture, so I think this event tonight was definitely that.”

On August 11, 2012, Brown took her shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, and officially joined the Muslim community. She said that her life has improved since converting.

“Other than outside people, I’m happy,” Brown said. “I’ve never been more happy in my life. I’ve never been more at peace with myself and my religion.”

Kelsey Leyva is the diversity reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Kelsey Leyva at [email protected].