Muslim Students Association hosts Islam Awareness Week
Emily McConville | 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.
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.”