Students promote Islam
Emily McConville | Monday, March 31, 2014
In order to fight misconceptions about the Muslim faith and educate people about specific aspects of Islam, the Notre Dame Muslim Students Association (MSA-ND) is hosting its first Islam Awareness Week from Tuesday to Friday of this week.
S.M. Moududul Islam, MSA-ND secretary, said the organization began planning the week last semester, using other universities’ Islam Awareness Weeks as models.
He said the goal of the week, which is funded by a Graduate Student Life grant, Campus Ministry, the Islamic Society of Michiana South Bend Mosque, the Center for Social Concerns and the Kroc Institute for International Studies, is to provide a series of unified events that allow the Notre Dame community to ask detailed questions about the Muslim faith.
“The idea of Islam Awareness Week is to have multiple events within a week so that we can draw the attention of the people here on campus and let them know about Islam, and also to let the people ask questions,” Islam said. “We are having different talks and different … events at which there can be close interaction between the audience and the speaker. It is good to have that forum where you can ask questions.”
MSA-ND vice president Md. Itrat Bin Shams said the week would also be an opportunity to learn about certain facets of Islam, such as the pilgrimage to Mecca and the concept of the hijab, in more detail.
“[The goal is] to let people know about specific aspects of Islam, some things that are maybe known to us but not to people who believe in other faiths,” Shams said.
The week will begin with two events focused on Hajj, the fifth Pillar of Islam, in which Muslims make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. On Tuesday, there will be a screening of the documentary, “Seven Wonders of the Muslim World,” which features seven mosques in the Islamic world and tells the story of seven pilgrims’ journey to Mecca.
On Wednesday, during Campus Ministry’s regular “Prayer from Around the World,” Dr. A. Rashied Omar, a research scholar of Islamic Studies and peace building at the Kroc Institute, will give a talk on Hajj.
“We always see the image of the Kaaba in Mecca on TV, but we don’t exactly know any people who are non-Muslim who know what is going on there,” Islam said.
“So the idea is to have a lecture, and in addition to the lecture we are having a video demonstration on the pilgrimage to Mecca … [Dr. A. Rashied Omar] will be discussing the spiritual aspect as well as the rituals.”
Directly following Omar’s lecture will be a dinner titled “I Believe In . . .” which will consist of small-group discussions of each participant’s faith.
On Friday, MSA-ND will provide transportation for 12 students to the mosque at the Islamic Society of Michiana for a prayer service.
“Some students from Notre Dame can come with us to see how we perform our prayer and also, there’s a speech just before the prayer by the imam, the leader in the mosque,” Shams said. “They can see the whole picture. The mosque, for us, for Muslims, is not only the place for the prayer, [but] it is [also] a community center, so they can see how these things connect with each other.”
The week will culminate with a lecture by Hisham Mahmoud, an instructor of Arabic at Harvard University and prominent scholar of Islam on Friday evening. Mahmoud will discuss the importance of Jesus and Mary in the Islamic tradition.