Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Utah Muslim Women Encourage Honest Dialogue About Islam

Lee Hale
The event featuring a 6-woman panel was co-sponsored by Faeiza's Initiative and Utah Women Unite.

A panel of six Muslim Women spoke to a group gathered at Salt Lake City’s downtown library Wednesday evening. The event was an effort to create an honest dialogue and dispel common misconceptions about Islam.

The organizer of the panel, FaeizaJaved, is a social worker who grew up in nearby West Valley. She says the feeling in the room during the panel was a sense of “good shock.”


Javed could tell many of those in attendance were not used to hearing a Muslim woman’s side of the story.


“Their perspective is one that’s almost never heard," says Javed.


Topics discussed included wearing the hijab, arranged marriage, even terrorism. Javed believes it’s candid conversations like this that break down pervasive feelings of Islamophobia.


She also senses a kind of kinship discussing these issues in Utah among many who come from a Mormon tradition.


“I actually find a lot of comfort because they get it," says Javed. "I just had a couple of individuals come up and say those exact same things to me, they’re like, ‘We could have closed our eyes and we would have thought it was LDS people speaking on that panel.’”


Panelist Satin Tashnizi says another important aspect of the panel was the diversity represented. The six women in front of the room came from a spectrum of belief and cultures within Islam.


“I was listening to the girl right next to me and I had never heard that perspective," Tashnizi says. "Even as a panelist I wasn’t there to teach I was also there to learn.”


With regard to wearing the hijab each woman had a unique approach, some choosing to wear it daily while others, like Tashnizi, don’t.


Tashnizi says if the takeaway was simply that there are multiple meanings to each aspect of Islam then she considers the night a success.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.