The Muslim Students Association will host a fast-a-thon tonight to conclude Islam Awareness Week, a series of events that began last Monday to spread knowledge of the Muslim faith and culture. The fast-a-thon will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Tidewater A and B in the Sadler Center.
According to Yousra Aboulatta ’14, president of the MSA, the group has hosted this annual event approximately 20 times. This year, MSA added to the week a documentary about the Syrian Civil War as well as a charitable component, raising money for Syrian relief agencies.
“We’d like to help explain to those who have untrue perceptions and ideas the reality of our religion,” Aboulatta said in an email. The events kicked off March 25, with the group hosting a discussion about Islam’s creation story.
A more visible event happened March 26 when the group hosted the “hijab challenge,” a call for those who typically don’t wear the traditional Muslim headdress to wear one around campus.
Approximately 35 students have participated in the activities so far. However, the group expects that more will come to the fast-a-thon, which is being held with assistance from the Student Assembly, the Lutheran Students Association, Oxfam and Stop Hunger Now.
So far fundraising efforts this week have gathered about $120 for Syrian relief. Aboulatta said that after the fast-a-thon, which costs $2 to attend, she hopes to have raised $500 in total.
Several professors have assisted the organization by offering academic credit to students who participate.
Arabic professor John Eisele, who offered credit to his students, said that it is important for those learning a language to also learn about the culture of those they are studying, because in many ways the culture shapes the language.
“Students and faculty are well aware that Islam is a big factor in world affairs. But many do not realize how it is part of an individual’s life,” Eisele said.
Aboulatta’s sister, Raghda Aboulatta ‘16, is also a member of MSA. She said that she often encounters ignorance toward Islam, although it is seldom malicious.
“Most of the time the misunderstandings are humorous. One of my close friends wanted to know if my mom wore the hijab in the house,” Raghda Aboulatta said.
She added that hijabs, which are worn in response to the Koran’s call for modesty, are typically not worn around family members.