MSA sponsors Islam Awareness Week

    In an effort to spread knowledge about Islam, the Muslim Student Association is holding Islam Awareness Week, with events from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31.

    Mac Nguyen
    Guardian

    The week consists of a series of lectures regarding the basic principles of the religion and how they relate to other faiths. In addition, informational booths on different aspects of Islam were set up on Library Walk.

    “”The event is trying to educate people about what Islam really is, instead of what is perceived through the media,”” said MSA President Ahmad Bailony.

    The week began with “”Islam 101,”” a lecture on the basics of the religion. Mohammed Nasser, president of the San Diego chapter of the Muslim American Society, spoke about the way of life in Islam and discussed the Five Pillars of Faith, the Koran and the prophet Mohammed, among other topics.

    In addition, Nasser addressed certain issues that have caused concerns in the past year. At the end of the lecture, students were also able to ask questions.

    Junior Lukas Mueller, who attended the lecture, said, “”I came to enhance my cultural awareness. I think it’s important to understand other cultures, because understanding helps to bridge gaps and solve problems.””

    Muslim students said they were glad that other students came out to learn more about Islam.

    “”There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Islam,”” said fourth-year student Nadia Aziz. “”It’s one of the biggest religions in the world, and a lot of people don’t know much about it.””

    On Oct. 29, the MSA set up a booth on Library Walk where students could take a look at exhibits of Islamic art. Different pieces, such as models of famous mosques and Ka’bah writings, were on display, in addition to excerpts from the Koran. Students could also have their names written in Arabic and purchase barbecued food from MSA members. Pamphlets and booklets about the religion were available.

    “”We want to show that [Islam] is a beautiful religion, and it’s about peace,”” said MSA member Nancy Hossain. “”Also, that there are people behind the scarves.””

    Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many Muslims have experienced hostility from the public. The Council on American-Islamic Relations received 1,717 reports of anti-Muslim incidents since the attacks. Out of these, approximately 28 percent were reported in California; 23 percent occurred in schools. The types of confrontation vary among discrimination in the workplace, public harassment and physical assault.

    “”I’ve been glared at before,”” said Hossain of her own experience. “”I don’t feel normal sometimes, like I stand out.””

    Nasser said such sentiments are unjustified.

    “”Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances,”” Nasser said in his talk. “”There have been so many stereotypes out there, and it’s important to hear information about Islam from the horse’s mouth, from someone who practices Islam.””

    On Tuesday night, speaker Imad Al-Bahri addressed the role of Jesus of Nazareth in Islam.

    Through the lectures, booths and interaction with MSA members, students of different backgrounds were able to learn and gather useful facts about Islam.

    “”It’s really surprising that it’s so similar to Christianity,”” said senior Susan Hardjadinata. “”I think people have been overly skeptical about this religion, and they just need to open their minds.””

    The last lecture, with speaker Sheikh Yassir Fazaqa, will be held in in Center Hall 105 on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. He will speak on the Islamic concept of justice by citing specific Koran references and how justice has been implemented in the past.

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