The Muslim Student Association will hold events March 25-29 for Islam Awareness Week to allow Muslim students to share their stories and increase general student understanding of Islam.
This is the second year that MSA will be organizing a full week of events.
“This is a good way for Muslims to share their experiences and have people listen,” said sophomore Shamim Ibrahim, MSA member. “And whatever you get out of that, at least you sat there and you listened. We definitely need that in a community if we are going to live together well, peacefully with love.”
Sophomore Hijab Fatima, MSA member, said the best part of the week was that the events would be open to everyone.
Events will begin in Tyler Haynes Commons from 12 to 2 p.m. on Monday, March 25, with members of MSA passing out flowers with hadiths, or sayings of the prophet. In light of the Christchurch massacre, the hadiths will contain words of hope, unity and love, Ibrahim said.
Later from 8:15 to 9 p.m. on Monday, the imam of the Islamic Center of Virginia will lead a Quran study in the Wilton Center Pathways Lounge.
“When we hear about cultures that are minorities, or even just people in general, a lot of the time it’s what we see on social media," Muslim Chaplain Waleed Ilyas said.
Ilyas said it was important to realize that the campus community could make progress toward fighting ignorance with people who were here, even if it could not necessarily fight anything being put out by social media and the media in general.
A vigil will be held on the University Forum to honor the Christchurch victims from 6 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26.
For Ibrahim, the vigil is the most important event of the week.
“As a campus we haven’t shown any outward reflection or any outward statement, and this will be the first time we do that," Ibrahim said. "Even though it is such a sad event, for me it’s the most important one for people to just come and stand in solidarity.”
Fatima said MSA members would each be talking about a victim at the vigil.
“I will be speaking about the three-year-old, who was the youngest victim,” Fatima said.
A Multifaith Dinner and Discussion will also be held in the Wilton Center Multifaith Room from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, where MSA members will lead discussion on the topic, “Can religion survive in the modern world?”
“I would love for people who come to these events, to come with open minds, to come with pure intentions and to come just willing to listen,” Ibrahim said.
Then from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, an open mic night will be held in the Wilton Center Multifaith Room, where the voices of Muslim students can be heard.
In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, Ilyas said it was important for all students to have the opportunity to talk.
“Learn about us so you don’t feel that you need to hate us,” Ilyas said.
At the end of the week, all are welcome to join in Friday Prayer from 1 to 1:30 p.m. in the Wilton Center Multifaith Room.
Aside from the need to fight Islamophobia and ignorance, Ibrahim said that understanding each other in a community is necessary.
"It’s just, I think, important for people to understand the people they live with," she said.
Contact news writer Emma Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.