Hundreds attend ‘Islam Awareness Week’ in Rutgers, New Jersey

SHAFAQNA – In a bid to prompt meaningful conversations and spur interest in the Islamic faith and culture, Rutgers Muslim students welcomed hundreds of students during Islam Awareness Week held earlier this month, offering them a first-hand interaction with Muslims and their culture.

“The weather wasn’t good for most of the days, but a lot of people still came to the tent,” Hadear Seliman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of the RUMSA’s Roots Initiative, told The Daily Targum on Wednesday, April 12.

“A lot of people still took food, played activities, and during the end of the day, a lot of people would come (listen) to the speakers,” she added.

The event was organized by the Rutgers Muslim Student Association (RUMSA) and was held in a tent outside Brower Commons from Monday to Thursday.

During the week, students were offered free food, henna tattoos and informational pamphlets on Islam. Pocket-sized copies of the holy Qur’an translated to English and more were made available.

“We’d have like 200 people or so, and the food would run out,” she said. “It would just be done. So I would say (those were) … pretty successful events.”

Prior to “Islam Awareness Week”, some students had some concerns about how the event would be received by students.

“We were kind of nervous, I think that we would have like disruptions or … protesting,” Habibah Arshad, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and vice president of the RUMSA’s Roots Initiative, said.

(But) it just went really smoothly, and there was nothing of that sort.”

Arshad said she thought “Islam Awareness Week” helped some students see past negative stereotypes.

“I feel like people left with a more positive image about Islam … (and) about the Muslim community at Rutgers,” she added.

Ghayoor Arshad said these events are important and will continue to be held annually because it offers a forum that allows people who have questions about Islam to get their answers directly from Muslims.

“(People) can walk up to someone who’s wearing a headscarf or who has a beard and say, ‘This is what I heard about you. Tell me if I’m right, or tell me if I’m wrong,’” he said.

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