Hofstra’s Muslim Students Association
encourages interfaith awareness on campus
By Maryam Qureshi
Hello Hofstra! I am Maryam Qureshi, and I will be writing from the Muslim American perspective. As part of the Dean of Students Diversity Advisory Board, I hope to represent the voices of religious diversity on campus and more specifically, those of the Muslim faith. As a student activist, I aim to help defeat stereotypes and misinformation about my faith and culture. In doing so, I would like to share with you my experiences this semester in promoting social cohesion on campus.
On February 1, the Hofstra Muslim Students Association (MSA) and the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion (IEI) co-hosted World Hijab Day where we recognized the millions of Muslim women who choose to don the hijab (headscarf) and live a life of modesty. Women across campus, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, were openly invited to experience hijab for a day.
Unfortunately, the hijab has been misinterpreted as a symbol of oppression and segregation of the Islamic patriarchy. Speaking out about the hijab on World Hijab Day was my protest against these narrow-minded misconceptions. The hijab is my safe space to work, study, and play. The hijab allows me to reaffirm my faith and identity everyday as a Muslim American woman.
“Although I do not wear the hijab myself, World Hijab Day allowed me to reflect on the beauty and confidence that the hijab provides for my fellow Muslim sisters,” said Saira Mahmood, a junior accounting major.
Last week, Hofstra MSA also hosted the first Islamic Awareness Week (Feb 27 to Mar 3) at Hofstra to promote understanding of the Muslim faith. During this week, Muslim students on campus sought to engage themselves in conversation about what it means to be a Muslim living in America today.
Islamic Awareness Week was a five-day series of events for the Hofstra community to expose themselves in cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue. Members of all faiths and backgrounds were invited to attend and to show solidarity with Muslims on campus. Events included, Ask a Muslim Day, Arabic Language Day, Fast-A-Thon, Muslim Women Empowerment Day, and Visit a Mosque Day.
One major misconception about being Muslim is that people think that all Muslims are part of the Arabic culture. However, the truth is that the Islamic faith is inclusive of people from all different parts of the world. Arabic Language Day celebrated this cultural diversity and inclusivity. Kayed Alsultan, an international graduate student from Saudi Arabia studying forensic linguistics, said that “it was amazing to see interested students and faculty learning about the Arabic culture through its language and literature. Everyone went back home learning a few Arabic words and numbers and their name written in an Arabic calligraphy style of their choice. Personally, I felt appreciated for my diversity at Hofstra University.”
Khizar Siddiqui, a senior health sciences/pre-med major and member of Hofstra MSA, explained that “many people are unfamiliar or confused about what Islam stands for. Visit a Mosque Day allowed students to experience the Muslim community on Long Island, as we prayed, ate, and talked together. Muslims and non-Muslims were able to reach out to one another and to stand up for equality, friendship, and optimism.”
|Descriptions of the events offering during Islamic Awareness Week.|