Muslim Student Association encourages cultural understanding with week-long awareness event



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The Muslim Students Association's event included a break in the action for a prayer at sunset Tuesday evening. Fuad Ponjevic Buy Photos

The Muslim Student Association is in the midst of its Islam Awareness Week. They have organized one event each day to promote cultural understanding of their religion, whether that’s answering a question and receiving a root beer float or having several women discuss their experiences with Islam.

Tuesday evening, several Muslim women said Islam was a source of hope for them at the Muslima Monologues event.

This is the third event organized by MSA for Islam Awareness Week. The presenters at this event discussed their personal challenges, including sexual assault and violence, societal judgment, and the meaning of the hijab, through storytelling and poetry-type 
discussion.

Monday was national Muslim Women’s Day and the first day of Islam Awareness Week at IU. Board member and public relations chair for the Muslim Student Association sophomore Luma Khabbaz said the organization didn’t intend for Muslim Women’s Day and the Muslima Monologues to overlap.

“It’s very fitting,” Khabbaz said. “We did not actually plan that, but it worked out really well.”

This event focused on the feeling of oppression that some Muslim women feel and the obstacles they have faced over their lifetimes. It featured several different presenters, including IU students like Khabbaz and Muslim women within the Bloomington community and gave them the chance to share their stories.

Khabbaz said she was looking forward to the monologues the most out of all the events during the awareness week.

“Another reason is because this is an issue that’s very near and dear to my heart,” Khabbaz said. “I just think it’s really important to give women, especially women of color and Muslim women specifically, a platform to perform.”

Attendees were welcomed to the Swain West lecture hall while songs like “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys played in the background. Attendees of the event munched on cookies and ice cream and snapped their fingers when something resonated with them.

Sophomore Arsalan Siddiqui, a board member and secretary for MSA, said he expected this event to be both culturally interesting and educational as well.

“I felt like this would be a good informative event for people to understand about how important women are in Islam,” Siddiqui said. “

Islam Awareness Week is the biggest event of the year for MSA. Siddiqui said this takes at least a month and a half to plan. Running from the 27th to the 31st, this celebration incorporates a variety of different events to celebrate the culture and diversities within the local Islam 
community.

Khabbaz said the MSA tries to highlight how Islam is just one part of a Muslim person’s identity and works to eliminate misconceptions people might have about the religion and the accompanying culture.

“Awareness is one thing, but the way we try to do awareness is through events that aren’t just like, ‘Oh, we’re Muslim. This is what we do,” Khabbaz said. “For example, this is an event for Muslim women. We have an event tomorrow that’s an interfaith event, so it’s like the idea that Muslims are not monolithic.”

Additional events the MSA will have this week include an interfaith game night and a banquet.

The organization will conclude the week with a Jummah prayer service at the Collins courtyard. Of these, Siddiqui said he’s most excited for Thursday night’s festivities, which will feature cuisine from Taste of India, Anatolia, Samira’s and Turkuaz, according to the organization’s Facebook page.

“My personal favorite would be the Taste of Islam banquet since, like, one it involves food and two you get to learn about different cultures that make up the Islamic community here in Bloomington,” Siddiqui said.

webcamuslim2

The Muslim Students Association's event included a break in the action for a prayer at sunset Tuesday evening. Fuad Ponjevic Buy Photos

webcamuslim

IU students and community members gathered Tuesday evening in Swain West to hear a series of monologues by Muslim women on the topic of oppression. Fuad Ponjevic Buy Photos

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