Islamic Awareness Week begins today

With the intention of informing students about Islam, the Muslim Student Association and Sisters’ United Muslim Association present Islamic Awareness Week. The activities and acknowledgement of the week begin today and last through Saturday.

Islamic Awareness Week is designed to explain the essence of Islam.

Bishar Tarabishy, president for the MSA, said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks put a spotlight on the Muslim community.

“It brought a lot of stereotypes about Islam into the light,” he said. “Since then, we have redoubled our efforts to try to dispel those stereotypes.”

The stereotypes Tarabishy said he wants to dispel include misunderstandings.

Tarabishy said he has seen some people who believe all Muslims are Arabs, some people who believe Islam condones suicide bombings and some people who believe Islam oppresses women. None is true, he said.

Another misunderstanding Tarabishy spoke of is the meaning of jihad.

“People think jihad means holy war. It doesn’t. It means struggle,” he said.

Tarabishy said the personal struggle is to implement God’s commandments into the Muslim life. The societal struggle is to have a good impact.

“It’s like a good Samaritan ideology,” said Tarabishy. “If something bad is happening, you try to undo that bad.”

Tarabishy said that reading political commentaries illustrates how much misinformation is out there.

“I’ve read numerous articles where commentators have tried to argue that, for example, Islam condones the actions of Sept. 11, or doesn’t explicitly condemn it. When, in fact, that is completely false. The MSA completely condemns those actions,” he said.

The week concludes Saturday with an open house held at Sligh Mosque. There will be continuous presentations and informational booths explaining the inner diversity of Islam at the open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“It seems most people don’t know much at all about Islam, or about what Muslims believe in,” Tarabishy said. “What people do know is usually misinformation or stereotypes. The message here is that we’re going to be out in some form this week, come talk to us. Come get to know us. Just come learn about Islam so that you can form an opinion based on the facts.”

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