International speaker, author and life coach Zohra Sarwari is coming to talk about her book, “No! I Am Not a Terrorist,” and about what it is like to be a Muslim in America. Sarwari was born in Afghanistan but has spent most of her life living in the United States. She has been referred to as ‘the most inspirational Muslim woman speaker in America.’
“I think it is important that Drake students are global citizens and really understand their world,” Jessica Hamilton, vice president-elect of student activities said. “We wanted to bring a speaker who could share with us her experiences and really provide students with a new outlook on her culture.”
Student Body President-Elect Greg Larson said he thinks the presentation will be enlightening.
“I’m especially excited to hear her speak on the topic of religion and how we, as Americans, generally perceive religion based on our eyes instead of with our ears,” Larson said. “We see someone dressed in Muslim garb and we automatically think that person may be a terrorist. Zohra spreads the message that we should learn with our ears about people; we should listen and learn; we should first seek to understand before we seek to criticize.”
Hamilton thinks Sarwari’s strong opinions will be a good thing.
“I know Sarwari is Muslim and has strong values about raising her children. I think her ideas may be controversial but only in a positive way,” Hamilton said. “By bringing new, different and engaging speakers we are providing students with the opportunity to grow and develop in their understanding of different cultures.”
SAB’s goal is for attendees to gain a new perspectives and knowledge about a subject with which they are unfamiliar.
“Living in the Midwest, when someone says the word religion, the first two words that come to mind are Lutheran and Catholic. This is not to say that I don’t fully understand the vast diversity in theology around the world just that this is where I’m from, and this is what I grew up knowing,” Larson said. “The reason why it’s important to have Zohra speak at Drake is precisely because of this. She comes from a background that is very common in other parts of the world but is not as common here in Iowa.”
Larson said students should come with open minds and not be afraid to talk about confusion concerning the Muslim religion.
“I’d encourage students to come armed with honest questions about things they don’t understand related to religion and the Muslim community,” Larson said. “The most powerful learning mechanism is the simple act of asking a question.”