Written by Cinnamon Stillwell
October 24, 2008
by Cinnamon Stillwell
Islam Awareness Week 2008 is underway at the University of Pennsylvania. Organized by the Muslim Students Association, Islam Awareness Week also has academic sponsors, including the university's Middle East Center(1).
While "awareness" may be a laudable goal, blatant proselytizing is another matter entirely. Yet today's event, "State and Need for Dawah in the West," promises just that. Here is the description (received by e-mail; emphasis added):
Harvard Chaplain and well-studied individual of Islam, Taha Abdul-Basser will deliver the Friday sermon on the lack of Dawah (invitation) on the part of Muslims in North America, not only to convey a message of submission to God alone but also to wash away misconceptions some share about Islam. Seven years after 9/11, Taha Abdul-Basser will elucidate on the importance of such education, sharing important Prophetic narratives and other occurrences in Islamic tradition that epitomize the magnitude of this act. We expect many non-Muslims to observe our Jummah outside, visually understanding the importance of this holy day.
Clearly, the "need for Dawah in the West" is being met at the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it's coming courtesy of the Muslim Students Association, an organization tainted by Saudi/Wahhabi funding, ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and a history of inviting radical and anti-Semitic speakers to its events.
Moreover, why would the Middle East Center cosponsor such an event given its overtly religious nature? It amounts to the Middle East Center doing its own version of Dawah. Would the same Center, or any academic department, co-sponsor an event involving evangelical Christian proselytizing? I very much doubt it. But when it comes to Islam, propriety goes out the window.
Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds