Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer
Photo by Abbey Marshall
Coexist (verb): to exist in a mutual tolerance despite different ideologies or interests.
On Thursday, May 22, a group of students with varying religious beliefs gathered together to demonstrate this idea of “coexisting”. The first interfaith group meeting took place: a discussion lead to inform and educate others about the various types of faiths that the students of Mason High School have.
This interfaith meeting was organized by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in attempt to learn more about other religions and how to respect others, according to junior Yara Khalifa, who was one of the founders of MSA.
“I went to Carmel High School in Indiana and we had an MSA there but it was not interfaith,” Khalifa said. “It was strictly, ‘Let’s learn about our religion’. I feel like that isolated a lot of people since there aren’t a lot of Muslims in the school and there are a lot of people I know who want to learn more about Islam. I wanted to open it to not just be about Islam because that’s sort of self-centered…I really want to know what all these people around me believe in and how I could best respect them.”
According to junior MSA member Hira Qureshi, the first meeting was a huge success with a large turn out and plenty of great conversations.
“I think the interfaith question and answer went even better than we could’ve ever imagined,” Qureshi said. “We were just praying at least ten people would come, but it put a huge grin on my face when every single seat was filled and some even had to pull extra chairs in. People were engaged and asking questions on a whole spectrum of religion. What was even better was the fact we had such diversity in the session varying from Christians to Muslims to Jews to Atheists to Hinduism and it was awesome to hear everybody sharing about their own faith.”
This discussion included a wide array of religions and according to Qureshi, it was a great opportunity to learn things about those different faiths.
“What I got [out of the discussion] is that religion shouldn’t be a taboo topic,” Qureshi said. “So many people had buried questions and itching curiosity that it’s a shame they have to put it away, afraid to be looked down upon if they ask a faith-related question. Today I saw that people really are interested and do have questions and all they need is an outlet to do that which is why we wanted to do this session in the first place.”
This was the first and last meeting of the year, but MSA is planning to hold the interfaith group once a month starting next school year, according to Khalifa.
“We definitely want to continue our group MSA and reach out to an even bigger audience where we hold sessions like this and start chipping away at the barriers of different faiths,” Qureshi said. “This was only to get the ball rolling but next year we want to have even more events where we customize events to what the student body wants to explore and give them a chance to do so.”
According to Qureshi, it doesn’t matter where one’s faith may lie because that’s the beauty of the club: diversity. Anyone is welcome to come as long as they are respectful of others and want to learn.
“I want others to have the chance to take advantage of the diversity here at Mason High School,” Qureshi said. “What we have is a real opportunity to learn about those around us who we inevitably interact with every day. I want to remove any ignorance that may exist and be part of shaping an environment where people can ask questions without feeling like they’re offending somebody and learn something new.”