Eight months after forming, the Belmont Rumi Club is starting to make itself and the message of tolerance it promotes known around campus.
Since their founding, the group has held multiple convos about topics ranging from the Iranian rock scene to living as a Muslim in Nashville as they try to educate students about the people and culture of the Middle East.
Mariam Hashimi, president of Rumi Club, said that she first got the idea of a club for Middle Eastern education and awareness after seeing Rafia Zakaria, a lawyer and employee of Amnesty International, speak at last year’s Humanities Symposium.
After hearing some of the questions Zakaria was asked, many involving misconceptions about Islam, Hashmini said she realized that there was a serious lack of awareness in regards to Islamic culture at Belmont.
Hashimi and her friends then decided to create an interfaith club that would help break the stereotypes involving Muslims as well as a club that would reach across religious and cultural boundaries.
While Belmont is a Christian school, Rumi Club treasurer Sami Ansari said the school’s religious affiliation is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Having a religious atmosphere, even one different from your own, is good for someone since it’s a constant reminder of God,” Ansari said.
Ansari believes that what Belmont needs most right now is more culture, and he wants Rumi to be a way to bring that culture to Belmont. If Muslims want to better assimilate and grow in western culture, it falls on the young people to lead the way, he said.
“Young people on both sides are more understanding of other cultures, so it makes sense for them to be the ones leave behind the misconceptions of the past,” he said.
Hashimi also said that as the club grows, she wants it to become an outlet for diversity at Belmont.
“It’s a way for you to prepare yourself for the world, whatever you end up doing,” Hashimi said.
Both she and Ansari want the club to become more than a place for just Muslim students to meet. In the long run, she hopes Rumi Club will be a club for Christian, Muslim, and other students to meet and discuss topics of faith and culture. They want to see it grow into a place where students are opened up to new purpose and where people can better find themselves.
“If you don’t expose yourself to this stuff while you’re in college, when will you have the chance to do so?” Hashimi said.