MSA Starts First Annual Islamic Awareness Week

News  /  by Kate Liu '19 and Ashley Lee '21  /  January 12, 2018

Sonia Shah '18 / The Lawrence

This past week, the Lawrenceville School held its first ever Islamic Awareness week. Shaezmina Khan ’19 and Haaris Mian ’19, the co-presidents of Muslim Student Association (MSA), ran events on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Events included a Lunch and Dialogue on Wednesday and an Islamic Awareness conversation on Thursday. On Friday, MSA is holding open Jummah Prayers and “Try on a Hijab.”

On Wednesday, January 10, Diversity Council and MSA hosted a Lunch and Dialogue in Bunn Library to discuss what it means to be Muslim in America. Students watched both a Buzzfeed video and a TEDx talk about the life of Muslims in this nation after 9/11. Muslim Student Association members led groups of students in discussions centered around Islam’s interpretation in the United States.

As Harrison Lee ’19 observed when following the discussions, “It was really eye-opening [...] to see this religion being portrayed in a different light.”

Muslim life leader Sister Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, who is currently a Fellow for Spirituality, Wellness and Social Justice at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke to the Lawrenceville community on Thursday, January 11. Kameelah discussed Islam, including the Five Pillars of Islam. MSA also facilitated discussions for students to understand Islam from personal perspectives. Sister Kameelah was available to answer any questions students had about Islam.

On Friday, January 12, the “Try on a Hijab” event will emphasize the role of women in Islam. Khan would like students to have an opportunity to try on a hijab and learn why women wear the hijab, what motivated them to do so, and whether or not it is prescribed in Islam.

Khan hopes that Islamic Awareness Week will “combat the bigotry and all the unanswered questions [about Islam], while promoting better awareness and understanding of a religion that is so often misunderstood.”

Religious Life Religion Master Sue Anne Steffey Morrow said, “Lawrenceville is a secular school with a multi-faith reality, and it has an intent to respect and deepen our understanding for each of the faith. [Islamic Awareness Week] is an opportunity for our whole school community to be educated about Islam [and] to participate in some Muslim rituals.”

Chair of Religion and Philosophy Department Thomas Collins added, “Media provides distorted information to the readers in regard to religions. Understanding the history of the religions will improve our understanding and acceptance of Islamic culture.”

Looking forward, the MSA hopes to continue hosting a yearly Islamic Awareness Week and expand on the events offered.