Oakland University students for the first time will be able to minor in Islamic Studies beginning next semester.

The first class, Introduction to Islam, will begin Jan. 4.

The Islamic Studies program was approved by the university five years ago but lacked funding. A group of Muslim professionals from throughout Metro Detroit helped make it happen.

“They have families with children in the schools and would like to make a contribution to increasing more knowledge about Islam and decreasing the prejudice and misinformation surrounding the religion,” said Gary Shepherd, director of Religious Studies at the university. “They approached the university this past summer and donated about $250,000 — generating pledges for $50,000 per year for five years.”

The minor will require students to complete 20 credits in courses such as Introduction to Islam, Islamic Ethics, Islamic Law and Islamic Literature, as well as participate in an internship within the Muslim community. Shepherd said the goal is to add more classes to the minor.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations based in Southfield, hopes the program also attracts those outside the university.

“I would hope that law enforcement agencies would promote their staff in taking these classes so they can understand more about dealing with Muslims,” he said.

That is also a goal for Imam Achmat Salie, recently hired as the Coordinator for Islamic Studies, who will be teaching one of the classes.


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