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Muslim Student Association sponsors Islam Awareness Week

| Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) kicked off Islam Awareness Week on Monday by handing out hijabs on Fieldhouse Mall and teaching people how to tie them.

Sara Abdel Rahim, a senior and the president of MSA, said community members were more engaged in the event this year after experiencing it in years past.

“I think people loved the event last year,” she said. “Everyone is coming up and saying, ‘Hey, I still have my scarf from last year, can I grab another one? Can you teach me how to tie it a different way?’ So kind of building a foundation for the past couple of years and then having people remember it and tell people about it — it’s been really great to have people come and say, ‘I remember this from last year, and I want to do it again.’”

The week — which is co-sponsored by other groups such as the Gender Relations Center, Notre Dame International and Multicultural Student Programs and Services — serves as an opportunity for non-Muslim students to learn more about Islamic culture, Abdel Rahim said.

“I think it’s amazing. I wish Islam Awareness Week could be Islam Awareness Year, but we obviously don’t have funds and resources for that,” she said. “But I think, definitely, when people come up and ask me to teach them how to wear it or what does a hijab mean to [me], there’s definitely an amazing desire for the students on campus to learn about Islam and to get a better understanding of it. … Even though it is a majority-Catholic campus, if you do provide a venue and a platform for people to come and learn about it, they’ll definitely engage and do that — which is cool to see Notre Dame students doing.”

The MSA’s hijab day gave Abdel Rahim a chance to explain that to her, a hijab is twofold, she said.

“It’s a sense of modesty in the physical sense — so you do cover up your hair, and wear long sleeves and pants,” she said. “So you’re covering up your body so you’re not showing physical attributes of yourself, so when people get a chance to know Sara, then they can know that person for who they are and not how they look or their physical aspects such as their hair or how they dress.”

Abdel Rahim said this commonly offers a greater sense of empowerment to people who wear hijabs.

“But also, when you’re covered up — in a sense it’s more empowering because you get to go and engage and do all the things you want, and you’re not held back by what society’s vision of you is,” she said. “So there is a negative connotation to the headscarf, but there are so many amazing hijabis out there — people that wear headscarves — that are so empowered, and it doesn’t prevent them at all from doing the things that they love.”

Islam Awareness Week is also being celebrated at Saint Mary’s, Abdel Rahim said, as Tuesday’s scheduled event is a lecture at the College.

“It’s with a scholar named Michael Birkel,” she said. “He’s a professor at Earlham College and he wrote a book called ‘The Quran in Conversation.’ And he’s really cool about inter-religious dialogue because he talks about how anyone can be a guest in someone else’s religion, you just have to be willing to learn about it.”

The week also features what Abdel Rahim said is “the equivalent of a homily in Catholicism,” a “Quran Halaqah,” on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a person in MSA who has the whole Quran memorized, which is cool,” she said. “We do that in Islam, we memorize stories and verses from the Quran. And he’ll be taking a couple of verses and kind of placing them in context and describing them more — kind of like what a priest does during a homily after the readings in Mass.”

The week will conclude with the MSA’s Islam Awareness Week dinner Thursday — this year focusing on Islam through the ages — and a mosque tour Friday. Abdel Rahim said she and the MSA are happy for any community members to engage with Islam Awareness Week in any way.

“On behalf of MSA, we’re really blessed that we have a campus that’s able to sponsor events like this and to be able to put it on,” she said. “And we do look for people to engage more over the coming weeks and to ask questions, because we don’t think there’s anything that’s a bad question.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a junior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, and currently serving as News Editor. She is a proud resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

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  • Ilpalazzo

    so not so much ‘awareness’, but teaching taqqiya

  • Ilpalazzo

    >It’s going to be a person in MSA who has the whole Quran memorized,
    which is cool,” she said. “We do that in Islam, we memorize stories and
    verses from the Quran.

    How is that any different than memorizing the lyrics of a Miley Cyrus song or any other song or any other book for that matter?? Yeah, all they know is how to memorize it and I’m sure this ‘awareness’ will simply be about regurgitating verses. Muslims lack critical thinking, so they don’t understand that, while verses may sound nice, they ultimately still have no basis in reality.

    • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

      Christians lack critical thinking as well.

      • Ilpalazzo


  • Such is the nature of the Great Falling Away (apostasy) spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that nominally Catholic / Christian institutions would turn from the Truth in Jesus Christ to the teachings of a strange god and false prophet. Islam – a religion that denies the fundamentals of Christianity: the deity, son-ship and crucifixion of Jesus Christ; the only name by which we might be saved.

    Beware of false prophets.

    • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

      What is a “true prophet”?

  • Just about

    fear Islam. Try to understand it

    • Cromulent

      I agree. For example, this wonderful verse from Bukhari 4:56:791: ‘I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!'”‘.

      Verses like that help us kuffar understand Islam quite well. Reading is fundamental.

      • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

        Do you need me to cite Leviticus? Or any part of the Bible advocating genocide or genital mutilation?

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Yea,like anybody over the age of 10 isn’t “aware” of Islam…sheesh

  • Ron Jeffry

    The only awareness I need of Islam I got on 9/11

    • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

      Most 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia but both Bush and Trump have business with Saudis and Trump never issue a travel ban on people from Saudi Arabia. How do you explain that?

  • Cromulent

    Oh, we’ve all become quite aware of Islam of late haven’t we?