University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s MSA Looks to Bring Understanding, Love to Islam Dialogue

SHAFAQNA- MSA began preparing for the event last fall and has worked with faculty advisor Hany Makkawy, as well as listened to non-member student input. The group will host educational events at the City Union from Feb. 23 to Feb. 25.

“We’ve had numerous meetings and asked non-Muslims about the topics they would like to hear about. And from there we compiled a list of focuses that would be respectful and beneficial to the UNL campus and community,” MSA secretary Karez Hassan said.

In choosing the topics for the “crash course,” the MSA identified some of the most important details of Islam. They chose to address the pillars, beliefs and morals of Islam, Christianity in Islam, stereotypes of Islam, women in Islam and Islamic art and architecture.

MSA president Sara El Alaoui said the MSA saw a need for Islamic Awareness Week after a Muslim UNL student was subjected to racism.

“The university and community immediately denounced this racism, and we were asked to organize an event to counter such actions and create a respectful and peaceful environment,” El Alaoui said.

El Alaoui hopes the lecture will educate attendees, the panel will personalize the concepts and teachings and the booths will offer an informal learning experience.

Hassan said Islam Awareness Week will give students a chance to ask reputable sources about Islam.

Hassan emphasizes the importance of discussion between different cultures and faiths. She said she has seen misunderstanding and unfair representation of Islam increase sharply in society, and that it must be combated with true knowledge.

“I don’t counterattack with ignorance. Rather, we should have interfaith dialogue and use education as a weapon to guide those who are misguided about Islam,” Hassan said. “Islamic Awareness Week will represent my faith in its true peaceful form, and I want non-Muslims to know what Islam truly is and not what the media portrays.”

On Feb. 25, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, MSA will host booths explaining Islamic art and architecture, the Golden Age of Islam, nutrition in Islam and other Islam-related topics. Attendees will be served Mediterranean sweets on Feb. 23 and 25.

A lecture will be held in City Union Feb. 23 at 4 p.m., featuring a talk on Islam by an Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Lincoln, followed by a panel discussion with Muslim students and a question-and-answer session. On Feb. 24 in the City Union near Subway from 1 to 3 p.m., MSA members will set up a booth to answer questions about women in Islam and clear misconceptions and stereotypes. El Alaoui said women can try on hijabs, share their experiences and receive a free shawl.

“Through this event, we hope to clear up the stereotypes about Islam that have been circulated through the media, uninformed people or even people who have some political agenda,” El Alaoui said. “We should treat others for who they really are, not for the image that we build of them based on some stereotypes or social and cultural expectations, and I think that it is our responsibility as Muslims to teach our community and remind them of these concepts, in an effort to bring understanding, peace, harmony and lots of love.”

Source: Daily Nebraskan

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