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Muslims Educate Arizona Students on Islam
Dispelling misconceptions surrounding their faith, Muslim students in the University of Arizona have organized a series of interactive events during Islamic Awareness Week, testing students’ information about Islam and giving them a chance to get a better understanding of the faith.
“It’s our responsibility,” Azba Khan, secretary of the MSA and a junior studying Middle Eastern and North African studies and molecular and cellular biology, told The Daily Wildcat on Thursday, March 6.
“We’re the representatives of the religion, so we’re trying to take that initiative and tell people what it is firsthand, tell our experiences as Muslims.”
Held this week in University of Arizona (UA), Islamic Awareness Week was organized by the Muslim Students Association to share with students who want to learn more about the religion.
The week events, held at UA Mall, included a Jeopardy-style game to test students’ knowledge of the details of Islam.
Another event was held on Wednesday, referred to as “Hijab Day”, which allowed interested students to try the Islamic headscarf for a day.
At the table on the Mall, club members passed out hijabs to any female students who were curious about their meaning and wanted to try one.
The event was followed by the evening about the students’ experiences wearing the hijabs.
“We’ve seen videos of people doing this … and we thought it was interesting because you see the reactions of girls once they see themselves [with the hijab],” Khan said.
“And it’s really beautiful,” the excited young woman added.
Answering students’ questions about Islam, Khan found the task an uneasy one.
“Sometimes, when you approach somebody, they think you’re converting them,” Khan said.
“But really the purpose … is just to educate them.”
Trying hijab for a day, Jessica Rech, a pre-business sophomore, described how she was fascinated by Middle Eastern culture and wanted to learn more about it.
Yet, she described how she tested discrimination inside campus from a group of students who were handing out Bibles to other students.
“It was like they didn’t even see me,” Rech said.
“They saw my scarf.”
Sumaiyya Zehri, a molecular and cellular biology senior and the female vice president of the MSA, said that she was excited for the hijab event.
“I’ve been called a terrorist from people just walking by,” Zehri said.
“If you think every single Muslim is a terrorist, this country would not be here. There are so many Muslims here. I’m a part of this country. I’m an American.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.