Muslim Students’ Association educates about Islamic traditions

Imam Shaker Elsayed spoke about the role of prayer in Islam as part of the Muslim Students' Association's Islam Awareness Week Thursday. Kierran Petersen | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Sarah Margolis

As Natalie Green walked around campus Wednesday she drew stares and fielded questions about her attire.

Green was participating in campus-wide hijab day, donning the traditional Muslim headscarf for the first time.

The Muslim Students’ Association hosted “Heads Up, Hijab It Up!” as part of its annual Islam Awareness Week to help non-Muslim students better understand Islamic culture.

The hijab is worn by Muslim women to maintain modesty in appearance. Green said while wearing the headscarf she felt the need to be more reserved because she was representing Islam.

“Usually I hear about how you can’t really be a proud woman and have your own career and have your own life if you’re a Muslim woman,” Green said. “I think the only way that it can be an impediment is by other people’s perceptions. I think that if you go out and you do what is within your morals and your beliefs, wearing a hijab you can do anything.”

Fatimah Popal, an alumna who speaks on issues of women in Islam, led a discussion Wednesday about the women’s experiences wearing a hijab, and the changing perceptions of Muslim women who choose to cover themselves.

The Arabic word, hayaa, comes from the word for “life,” and connotes a sense of awareness of one’s morals, Popal said. In Islam, she said, one must practice inner and outer hayaa, by being pure of heart and mind, and by wearing the hijab and dressing modestly.

Members of the Muslim Students’ Association also recalled their first day wearing a hijab.

“I just felt like my entire life was going to change, and people were going to throw things at me on the street, and then I just discovered that nothing like that happened,” sophomore Liz Cione said. “Sometimes you just forget that you’re wearing it.”

“There’s bad hijab days, too, where it doesn’t go on properly,” joked sophomore Zahra Rehman.

The student organization also hosted discussions on Islam in the media with professor Steven Roberts Monday, the misconceptions about Sharia law with Islamic organization leaders Tuesday and an interfaith panel with five religious leaders Thursday.

The group is also hosting a Fast-A-Thon today, in which students refrain from food or drink from sunset to sunrise. Students will come together to break their fast at 7:30 p.m. in Miriam’s Kitchen.

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