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Muslim Students Association hosts Islam Awareness Week

| Wednesday, April 8, 2015

This week, the Muslim Students Association of Notre Dame (MSA) is hosting Islam Awareness Week,  featuring a series of events meant to increase understanding about the religion and its representations.

IslamAwarenessWkUSEEmily Danaher | The Observer

MSA vice president and graduate student Fatemeh Elahi said the week’s events, whose co-sponsors include the Graduate Student Union and Multicultural Student Programs and Services and which include a panel discussion, a lecture and a film, focus on society’s perception of Islam and the role of the hijab, or head-covering veil, in the religion.

“This is the most obvious appearance of a Muslim girl, that she is wearing a hijab,” Elahi said. “That’s also where it has been most misrepresented, that [people think] the hijab is a symbol of oppression. So we wanted to talk about how this is actually a misrepresentation, and how it actually means empowerment for girls.”

To start the week, MSA held a panel discussion and Q&A Monday night about the importance of the hijab in the prayer life of Muslims. At the Fieldhouse Mall on Thursday, the group will also give out the garment, answer questions about the hijab and teach people how to wear it. Elahi said the goal is for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to understand why many Muslim women wear a hijab.

“Hijab basically means modesty, and modesty is one of the biggest teachings of Islam for both men and women, so it’s very important that we internalize this, that our prayers are about modesty,” Elahi said. “… We can learn so much by understanding the concept of hijab.”

Thursday evening, Islamic studies professor Ebrahim Moosa will give a lecture in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium about representations and misrepresentations of Muslims in the media, MSA president and senior Liyana Muhamad said.

“People want to talk about this, so we want to provide a platform so people can talk about this and stop blaming each other for things that none of us are accountable for,” Muhamad said. “That’s pretty much the idea, watching out for each other. The whole idea of wars and things like that are very much motivated by the media, and not by our innate role.”

The week will end with a screening of “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football,” a documentary that explores the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on a Muslim community through the eyes of a predominantly Arab-American football team. Elahi said MSA chose the film because it was relevant to the lives of Muslims in the United States today.

“After 9/11, their lives changed,” Elahi said. “It wasn’t because of something they had done … it was just, the media was painting the whole group with a broad brush and they were suffering for that. We just realized it was a good movie because people can connect with it, and it’s very educational.”

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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  • Arafat

    Why are Muslims killing Christians in Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere?
    Why do Muslims quote chapter and verse from the Qur’an to justify their murderous ways?
    Could you teach us why Islam promotes these horrible actions?

  • Arafat

    The First Crusade was declared only after the following jihadist acts had taken place.
    Muslims had conquered almost the entire Middle East wiping out the Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians who had lived there.
    Muslims had conquered most of North Africa wiping out the people who had lived there. Principally Christians and Berbers.
    Muslims had violently conquered Spain, Portugal, Sicily and southern France leaving devastation in their wake.
    All this Qur’an inspired bloodshed took place within 300 years of Mohammed’s birth. Muslims had their sights set on Rome and only then did the Pope declare The First Crusade.
    Why did Muslims commit all these horrors? Is it true Islam’s core tenets insist Islam rules over the entire world?

  • clem_clone

    “Islam Awareness Week”, that’s a good one. All one has to do to achieve awareness of it is to open one’s favorite news web site in the world news section and read about the latest atrocity.

    By the way, there’s an article about the Muslim Student’s Association at the Clarion Project web site here:


    They are a center-right organization, not a far-right one, and two of their three advisory board members are practicing Muslims. They list both the good Muslim organizations in the U.S. and the Islamist ones. The MSA is in their Islamist category.

  • Josephine Schmo

    It’s interesting to note that the first Christian community didn’t need awareness weeks or special protections for the teachings of Jesus Christ to reverberate around the world.
    They simply needed to live out loud what was taught. I believe a popular song meant to teach believers how to conduct themselves, and also encourage them that fruit will come of their labors goes, “they’ll KNOW we are Christians by our love, by our love. They’ll know we ARE Christians by our love.” The song reminds believers that Christ’s mission, and in turn theirs, is love. (Yes as well as NO “coexist” where true love abides.)
    Sadly, we know what sort of Islam is practiced by the opposite: hatred and murder. More yet, we know what other sort of Islam is practiced by the silence on the previous group’s actions. (Silence equaling NO marches/talks/rallies against the obliteration of artifacts etc. that are beloved by all people, the least that could be said, against killing others & desecrating the corpses in the most vile of manners, against singling out Christians wherever they are found.)
    More yet we’ll know they are Muslim by their ire, by their ire over how THEY are treated, by their demands that places to which they emigrate change to suit them & their sharia mindset.
    Yes. We must be aware of Islam in a way that makes us feel less for our beliefs because if we don’t come away filled with shame, we have not been truly enlightened, we have NOT truly received THE Islamic message preached on awareness day.