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Muslim Student Association holds annual Islam Awareness Week

| Monday, March 25, 2019

Notre Dame’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) kicked off their annual Islam Awareness Week for 2019 last Saturday. The week is designed to share aspects of the Islamic faith with students across campus, sophomore and MSA president Muhammad Abubakar Mian said.

“The main purpose of Islam Awareness Week is really just exposure,” Mian said. “It’s providing an opportunity for the non-Muslim community here on campus to come together with the Muslim community, to start a dialogue or get interacting with one another.”

Photo Courtesy of Muhammad Abubakar Mian

Members of the Muslim Student Association pass out hijabs during 2016’s Islam Awareness Week outside DeBartolo Hall as a way of informing students on Muslim practices and creating interreligious dialogue.

On Saturday, MSA hosted an Islamophobia Training session, a new addition to the annual Awareness Week. The event focused on bringing awareness to the issue of Islamophobia and promoting and understanding allyship.

One of the biggest events of the week is a hijab distribution, which will take place Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fieldhouse Mall. This event focuses on educating people about the meaning, purpose and history of the hijab.

“With the hijab distribution, people can just come by — and obviously there’ll be a couple of Muslims at the stand — and you can start and have a conversation,” he said. “You can ask them questions, get to know one another a little bit, you might even end up making a friend.”

The week, which is cosponsored by student government, the Gender Relations Center, Campus Ministry, the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion and Diversity Council, will continue with previous years’ events including a dinner on Tuesday and a mosque visit on Friday. Thursday’s event will be a halaqa, which is a gathering to discuss religious matters, on the rights of parents.

“These are all events that we do every year because they bring so much value,” Mian said.

In addition to the traditional events that occur every year, the MSA will be introducing a new event. Wednesday will feature a dessert crawl and cultural night. Mian said the MSA decided to plan this event in an attempt to show — contrary to some common misconceptions — the Muslim world is very diverse.

“The culture night is going to be Muslim students on campus from different Muslim countries that will be giving short, fun, five-minute presentations on their country, and that’ll be really exciting,” Mian said. “I think a lot of people will really be surprised by just how much diversity there is to the different Muslim cultures all over the world.”

In light of the recent tragedy in New Zealand where 50 people were killed at Friday Prayer, Mian said he hopes Islam Awareness Week will provide a new perspective on recent events and the sacredness and meaning of Friday Prayer in the Islamic tradition.

“All of these events provide an opportunity to really understand the weight of the tragedy,” he said. “I think visiting the Mosque might really show people, might shed greater light on the weight of this tragedy given what the Friday Prayer is.”

Speaking on the overall goal of Islam Awareness Week, Mian said he hopes Muslims and non-Muslims on campus will grow in community.

“As Muslims living in a non-Muslim community, it’s very important that we show people that are members of the non-Muslim community that we’re fully confident that we fully trust in them. Just like we would expect non-Muslims to fully trust and be fully confident in us,” Mian said. “That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish here: exposure to one another. That’s how you build trust in one another. That’s how a non-Muslim grows confidence in his Muslim neighbor, and that’s what we hope to accomplish with Islam Awareness Week.”

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