Islamic Awareness Week (IAW), presented by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) from March 2-6, gave students an opportunity to learn about Islam and the Muslim community on campus.
With a series of daily events, the (MSA) hoped to educate students by correcting misconceptions and existing stereotypes often displayed on the internet and media due to Islamophobia.
The week kicked off on Monday with the MSA’s “Meet A Muslim,” where carnations with positive quotes were passed out to students. The event was intended to grab the attention of those who may have never known the organization existed.
“We want to show students that we aren’t scary or crazy,” said Hazem Tariq, an accounting student and president of the MSA. “This is why we are doing this. If students see us and talk to us personally, they’ll see us with a different perspective. We’re people who love life, want to give back and make an impact.”
For Tuesday, a “What is Islam?” booth was held at the library with vibrant posters detailing the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The goal was to give students the chance to ask about the core beliefs and practices used in Islam. Students who had extra time between classes were able to get henna (a traditional form of temporary tattoo) and try on a hijab to further indulge in the culture.
Samah Boullaouz, chair of the MSA’s Sisters Events, says the MSA provides a community for Muslims and non-Muslims to come together and learn about each other.
MSA’s secretary Fatma Talib agrees.
“There are so many more similarities than there are differences,” Talib said.
“We are trying to make something very foreign seem not so foreign,” said Samah Boullaouz, chair of the MSA’s Sister Events. “We have students that you can or can’t tell they’re Muslim. We want to encourage discussions that help us understand each other better.”
On Wednesday, the MSA held a panel called “Confident Muslim,” which featured students speaking on their experiences as Muslims and their identity.
“There are some people that don’t want to say they’re Muslim or are fearful to. We want them to know that they don’t have to be scared,” Tariq said.
For Thursday, the MSA was joined by Ambara Adbi, one of the founders of the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) through an interactive workshop.
On Friday, the final day of IAW, the MSA held an open Jummah, which is a weekly Friday Prayer that replaces the daily noon prayer called Zuhr. Jummah, which was led by Yousef Hammouda, consists of a sermon that reminds those in attendance the teachings of Islam and is followed by a prayer. It was then followed by a Q&A session where students asked questions regarding the structure of the prayer, its meanings and Islam in general.
“First of all, I’m very thankful that they let us come and observe,” said student Avery Hendrick. “It’s a way to get to know people and have an understanding of the culture and religion and can help us better invest in one another.’
Although IAW is over, the MSA says Muslims and non-Muslims alike are encouraged to attend their events, which are open to all.