Islam Awareness Week hopes to increase understanding of the religion

Members+of+the+UI+Muslim+Student+Association%3A+sophomore+Tartil+Ali%2C+freshman+Ebteehal+Kmail%2C+sophomore+Seeme+Kotoh%2C+sophomore+Amani+Ali%2C+junior+Ayah+Taha%2C+junior+Taimaa+Shoukih%2C+and+sophomore+Suha+Suleman+throw+snowball+after+passing+out+flowers+for+Islam+appreciation+week+on+the+T.+Anne+Cleary+Walkway+on+April+9%2C+2018.
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Islam Awareness Week hopes to increase understanding of the religion

Members of the UI Muslim Student Association: sophomore Tartil Ali, freshman Ebteehal Kmail, sophomore Seeme Kotoh, sophomore Amani Ali, junior Ayah Taha, junior Taimaa Shoukih, and sophomore Suha Suleman throw snowball after passing out flowers for Islam appreciation week on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on April 9, 2018.

Members of the UI Muslim Student Association: sophomore Tartil Ali, freshman Ebteehal Kmail, sophomore Seeme Kotoh, sophomore Amani Ali, junior Ayah Taha, junior Taimaa Shoukih, and sophomore Suha Suleman throw snowball after passing out flowers for Islam appreciation week on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on April 9, 2018.

Katie Goodale

Members of the UI Muslim Student Association: sophomore Tartil Ali, freshman Ebteehal Kmail, sophomore Seeme Kotoh, sophomore Amani Ali, junior Ayah Taha, junior Taimaa Shoukih, and sophomore Suha Suleman throw snowball after passing out flowers for Islam appreciation week on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on April 9, 2018.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Members of the UI Muslim Student Association: sophomore Tartil Ali, freshman Ebteehal Kmail, sophomore Seeme Kotoh, sophomore Amani Ali, junior Ayah Taha, junior Taimaa Shoukih, and sophomore Suha Suleman throw snowball after passing out flowers for Islam appreciation week on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on April 9, 2018.

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For members of University of Iowa Muslim Student Association, the upcoming week is dedicated to educating others on the basic beliefs and traditions of their religion.

Islam Awareness Week is marked by events intended to increase general student understanding of the faith.

Walking across campus Monday afternoon, Muslim Association members presented passersby with colorful flowers. They gifted “flowers of faith” attached with quotes about Islam or verses from the Quran.

A play titled Muslims in Iowa will run at Hancher at 7 p.m. Tuesday, focusing on the experiences of Muslims. It will be free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, the Muslim Association will set up a booth from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway for its annual “Hijab It Up.” Women are encouraged to try on a hijab to learn more about its meaning.

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Association member Ebteehal Ismail said many people don’t know what a hijab really is (the scarf some Muslim women wear for modesty and religious purposes).

“The reason we don’t consider this cultural appropriation is because we want people whose intentions are pure to come,” Ismail said. “If people are coming with intentions purely to learn about the religion, then we don’t have any issue with that.”

On Thursday, the association invites participants to its “fastathon,” to abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset, before breaking fast together in the evening at India Café, 227 E. Washington St.

“The reason we have this on Thursday is to show people that you can fast, too. A lot of people get so surprised when I tell them that I fast from sunrise to sunset,” Ismail said. “But it’s just something to show if you put your mind to it and you’re really passionate about something, you’re able to do it regardless of the struggles you may face with it.”

The fasting reflects the fasting during the month of Ramadan, which Ismail said is in order to strengthen one’s religion.

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“The true beauty of Ramadan is that we all come together and we’re all going through the struggle together,” Ismail said.

Association member Seema Kotob said she has met a lot of people that get a bad impression of Muslim people based on the news. She thinks it’s crucial to spread awareness on Islam and come together as a school so “we don’t feel like outsiders in our own university.”

“I know a lot of people get nervous to ask questions. Some people think that we will get insulted by them asking,” Kotob said. “I want to answer questions. I love when people ask questions. I think this is the perfect chance for them to ask anything that they want without feeling uncomfortable.”

On Friday, the association will engage in community service by putting together bags of food for a free lunch.

“It’s important for people to learn about Islam, because there are a lot of misconceptions around it, and I feel like [this week] is a way to spread information about us, show that we care about everyone and that we’re just like everyone else,” association member Salma AshShareef said. “We also want to teach others about our religion and the part that’s beautiful, not what you see on media.”

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