UI celebrates Islam Awareness Week

The Muslim Student Association hosted Islam Awareness Week on campus last week with daily events to increase general knowledge and awareness of Islam and promote inclusion and acceptance.


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.

Noelle Hass, News Reporter

This past week, the University of Iowa Muslim Student Association hosted Islam Awareness Week on campus.

The goal of Islam Awareness Week, according to the association, is to “promote social cohesion rather than dwelling on social differences” and spread the word of Islamic faith to other students. The group commemorated the week by hosting different events every day for students on campus to engage in.

Members of the association kicked off festivities by handing out flowers to pedestrians on the Cleary Walkway. Accompanied by beautiful weather, they successfully celebrated “flowers of faith.”

On April 9, Sheikh Omar Hedroug came to the UI to speak to students on “the principles of the Islamic faith, the basics of Islam, the common misconceptions surrounding Islam and the statistics.”

In this free educational lecture, Hedroug spoke to further educate the public on what it means to be Muslim, as well as telling the stories of other Muslims to the community.

“Hijab It Up” was the April 10 event, where women were encouraged to try on a hijab in order to gain an understanding of this important part of the culture. Women passing by in the IMU had the chance to wear a hijab and ask questions to become educated on Muslims and Islam and experience, something that they normally would not have the opportunity to do.

Members of the Muslim Student Association who hosted this event reported that “the most beautiful thing that came out of it was the questions,” and they were joyful about other students’ willingness to ask questions and eagerness to learn about what the hijab means for Muslim women.

It is important to seek to understand the culture and lives of those around us from different backgrounds to promote a better coexistence and a better world for all,” the association said in a statement to The Daily Iowan.

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The “Fastathon” occurred on April 11, encouraging students to fast with the association and abstain from food and water for the day. This fast lasted from about 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., where students were invited to break their fast with members of the association at the India Café.

Group member Omar Ahmad believes the importance of fasting for Muslims needs to be understood.

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for those of Islamic faith, he said, and the exact time it starts and ends varies. This year, he said, Ramadan will begin in early May, and Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset, abstain from pleasures, and pray.

“It may sound difficult to abstain from eating or drinking for up to 17 or 18 hours a day, but after a couple of days, it becomes the norm, and it is a reminder that a person is not just a physical body but a soul as well,” Ahmad said.

April 12 marked the end of Islam Awareness Week, and students participated by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Members of the association were joined by other students on campus to make “food bags,” containing full meals, to donate to the local CommUnity Crisis Services as well as the Food Bank.

Ahmad said he is aware of the many misconceptions some people have about the religion.

“Many don’t know the true purpose or meaning behind [Islam],” he said.