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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Islamic Awareness Week kicks off

Rebecca Noble

Members of the UA’s Muslim Student Association gather at the Islamic Center of Tucson on Friday afternoon to prepare for a week’s worth of events for Islamic Awareness Week. Co-vice President Azba Khan (far left), Secretary Sumaiyya Zehri (center left), President Asim Zehri (center right), Co-vice President Taha Hasan (far right) and club members said they hope these events will “clarify any misconceptions” and “bring awareness to other aspects” of Islam.

Islamic Awareness Week occurs on a national scale, and each year, the UA’s Muslim Student Association organizes events that aim to dispel misconceptions, educate and bring awareness to Islamic culture.

Azba Khan, a senior studying molecular and cellular biology and Middle Eastern and North African studies, said the purpose of Islamic Awareness Week is to delegitimize the stereotypes and false beliefs associated with Islam and provide alternate, correct portrayals of the Muslim religion.

According to Hala Alwagdani, a senior studying geology and Middle Eastern and North African studies, the negative connotation attached to Islam has been getting worse since the early 2000s.

MSA organizers will have tables set up at the UA Mall from Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m-2 p.m.; students and faculty are welcome to learn about Islamic culture, wear traditional clothes and enjoy delicious food.

Different events will be held every day to showcase Islamic culture and way of life, from art and Islamophobia to jihad and women’s rights.

“I am very passionate about my religion, and this event gives me the opportunity to show people who Muslims really are,” said Asim Zehri, a physiology senior and president of the MSA.

The first event, “Islamic Art & Calligraphy,” begins today at 5:30 p.m. in the Mesquite Room at the Student Union Memorial Center where participants can learn to write calligraphy and explore Islamic art and architecture.

“I decided to get involved, because as a Muslim and as a Saudi Arabian, I feel that we can never do enough in the way of clarifying misconceptions that revolve around Islam,” said Alwagdani, who will volunteer for the week’s program.

“Women’s Rights & Hijab Day” will be held on Tuesday at the Psychology building in Room 306 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. It will be organized like an open forum.

“I would like to see if anyone would venture to try the Hijab … and what kind of experiences and reactions friends and strangers will they get,” Alwagdani said.

On Wednesday, Anas Hlayhel will speak on “Jihad in the Modern Day” in the Kiva Room at the SUMC from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

“The rights of women in Islam is a hugely controversial topic,” Khan said, “and often, people seem to ignore the dialogue of Muslim women themselves, especially those who criticize the religion.”

On Thursday, Azhar Azeez will speak at McClelland Park in Room 105, on “Islam in the Media” from 5:30-7 p.m.

Zehri added that he is looking forward to this event in particular because “people have the misconception that Muslim organizations or leaders of the religion do not denounce many of the corruption that is done within the name of Islam.  This event will clarify this misunderstanding.”

Thursday’s event also aims to educate students and faculty about the contributions Muslims have made, which have had an impact on the modern world, according to Zehri.

“I feel people who are Islamophobic have never really met a Muslim, and that’s one of the purposes [for] having Islamic Awareness Week,” Zehri said, “so that people can have the opportunity to converse with Muslims and grasp the correct understanding of who we really are.”

The week will end on Friday with a tour of a mosque and guest speaker Sh. Khaled Alazhary at the Islamic Center of Tucson, from 6-7:30 p.m.

“I believe Islamophobia is not just the fear of Islam, but it is the fear about learning the truth about Islam. … I think some people are afraid to learn that what they have been conditioned to think about Islam may actually be wrong, that maybe what they have been listening to on the news may not be the truth,” Khan said. “Blindly accepting what we are told by unreliable people is the biggest mistake in society. We need to take advantage of the sources and intellect we have and challenge the ignorance in society with knowledge.”


Follow Terrie Brianna on Twitter.

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