| MSA Presents ''Islamic Awareness Week''
In an effort to educate students and fight stereotypes the Islamic religion, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) partnered with the Campus Christian Center (CCC), the Center for International Education (CIE), and the Opening Blind Eyes (OBE) student group from the SGA to bring "Islamic Awareness Week" to Berea’s campus.
Students spent Friday at a mosque in Somerset, KY.
The week started off on Monday December 3 with the showing of a film in Danforth Hall titled “Muslims.” The documentary focused on “Hijab” and the role of women in Islam. The movie is available at the library.
One of the biggest showings of solidarity within the Berea College student body was Tuesday’s “Hijab Day” in which traditional Hijab head scarves were passed out to female students to wear as a show of support of religious tolerance and education. More than 100 Hijabs were passed out to females, and several men were given armbands to show their support as well. One of BCnow’s own reporters, Carol Davey, worked with the Opening Blind Eyes Project who coordinated the event. “The Hijab is often misunderstood as oppressive,” she said. “That’s why OBE decided to work with the MSA--to educate students about an international issue that is hitting close to home.” Also that evening, speaker Ama Shabbaz, spoke about Hijab and women in Islam. “Hijab day was an enriching and eye-opening experience, from putting on the Hijab to attending the program,” commented Davey.
Wednesday brought special presentations by Dr. Jose Bey; Zubair Ahmad, the MSA President, with Bolotbek Esenov, MSA's event planner. Dr. Bey’s presentation, titled “The Historical Significance of Islam in Advancing the University System and Academic Institutions of the ‘West’” dealt with the impact Islam has had on the educational system. Ahmad and Esenov’s presentation, “Economic Justice of Islam,” discussed Zakat, charity in God’s way; Sadaqa, another form of charity; and Riba, free transactions and banking by using verses from both the Quran and the Bible.
Thursday evening in the Commons of Woods-Penn, students were invited to view "dramatic expressions"—all short drama scripts written by Esenov. Through these short pieces, students were treated to Islamic teachings and a family system recommended by Islam.
The week finally culminated in a trip for several students to a mosque in Somerset, KY to learn about the Muslim way of prayer as well as to experience a day of prayer in a Muslim mosque. Students were free to agree, disagree, or remain neutral to the teachings, but all came away further enlightened about stereotypes facing the Islamic culture. “I think the visit to the mosque was a great opportunity for students to experience real Islamic culture first-hand,” said Ahmad. “It was a good chance for them to question Muslims about their beliefs, ask questions about things they wanted to know about Islam and if they had any stereotypes about Islam they could bring them up.”
Ahmad went on to comment, “I think the entire week was a great success for the MSA. A lot of people participated in different events and showed their interest in knowing about Islam. The MSA tried to introduce new ideas to campus by coming up with totally new events and new kind of food being served and it turned out to be a great success.” The MSA will be sending out surveys in the near future to students asking them for their thoughts and opinions about the “Islamic Awareness Week,” so be sure to let them know what you think.