SHAFAQNA – Understanding the Islamic faith may come a bit easier for University students after Islamic Awareness Day. On Thursday, some non-Muslims were introduced to the faith by the Muslim Student Association.
Child and family studies junior and Islamic Awareness Day co-organizer Hafsah Mohammed said the club came up with the idea last year.
“We saw that the MSA wasn’t as active as we wanted on campus so we wanted to do something that would involve reaching more non-Muslims to find out more about us and to clear up some misconceptions about Islam,” Mohammed said.
Electrical engineer sophomore and MSA president Saad Ahmad said the group aims to erase the common misconceptions about the religion.
“Probably the major misconception is that we’re violent people, but if people come out and see us we’re trying to showcase that our religion tells us to be peaceful actually and have good character and good manners and polite behavior,” Ahmad said. “If people understand that, they won’t be so quick to judge.”
Muslims read from the book of Quran, which they believe was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. For Muslims, Muhammad is the last prophet to have walked the Earth.
Mohammed said while not all Muslims read the Quran every day as a book, they are reading it through prayer.
“We pray five times a day, so even if you’re not necessarily reading your Quran you’re reciting your Quran while you’re praying,” Mohammed said.
During the event, computer science sophomore Salman Bobat, a Muslim student from Baton Rouge, shared his experience of the Islamic faith.
“What’s really beautiful about it is the way that the Quran teaches it. You have to be peaceful to people. If you are peaceful you will be very successful in life,” Bobat said. “The Quran is basically written from the words of God, so when the Quran came to Earth and people started to become Muslims, it started to become a great thing in people’s lives because it completely transformed people.”
Bobat said Islam is about forgiveness, acceptance and second chances, and Islam is accepting of all races and religions. He said, once a person converts to Islam, they are forgiven of all their past deeds.
In addition to learning about the Islamic faith students learned about the Muslim culture. Students ate cultural foods like biryani, a type of rice; falafel, a bread made form chick peas; couscous, a salad made of wheat grains; and diwali, stuffed grape leaves.
Arabic calligraphy was also offered, in which students gave their name to a calligrapher who wrote their name in Arabic.
MSA students showed others how to properly wrap hijab and turban wrappings. Hijabs and turbans are pieces of fabric, like large scarfs, wrapped around a person’s head. The Islamic faith does not require people to wear hijabs and turbans, but it is a choice made by believers.
Mohammed said wearing a hijab is done out of modesty and a love for God and generally is not forced.
Mohammed said other religions have women who also cover their hair.
“There’s some people within the Christian church that cover. The Virgin Mary covered. A lot of times people don’t recognize that a lot of times nuns are just as covered as we are,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed said she and her friends were given a choice to wear hijabs and chose to do so out of their love for God and appreciation of modesty, not because they were oppressed.
Biological engineering senior Daniel Wheeler, a non-Muslim student, said he enjoyed learning about Arab culture.
“What I really think I’m getting out of it, aside from the food and the fun things like your name in Arabic, is that I’m learning about Arabic culture,” Wheeler said. “I’m learning about the religion. I feel like the media has such a polarizing effect on people. I feel like the media demonizes them and I feel like I’m obliged to come and learn about them and hear it from their mouth instead.”
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