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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Student organization promotes Islam weeklong

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM students Muhajir Romero, left, and Mac Morin discuss similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam outside the Student Union Building on Thursday afternoon. Today is the last day of the UNM Muslim Student Association’s Islamic Awareness Week, which aims to clarify popular ideas about the religion. This year’s Islamic Awareness Week kicked off Monday

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A UNM student organization this week held an event to raise awareness about Islam.

Today marks the end of the Muslim Student Associations Islamic Awareness Week. Various events in celebration of the week began Monday.

Ruquaya Quraishi, president of the Muslim Student Association, said the week aimed to spread awareness of the Islamic faith and to educate individuals on what the religion teaches. She said her organization answered questions in order to clear any misconceptions that might exist regarding Islam.

“We set up a tent, we hand out educational materials, we have lecture events about women or about hot topics that people want to know about,” Quraishi said. “It’s to clear the misconceptions and let people know what Islam really is.”

Quraishi said two of the biggest misconceptions about her religion are that women are oppressed and that they are forced to wear the head scarf. She said neither of these is true.

“In my case, I’m the president of the Muslim Student Association, and in no way am I oppressed,” she said. “Also, that women are forced to wear the head scarf, and that’s not true at all. In our religion, we believe that if you are forced, you are wearing it for the wrong reasons, and you shouldn’t be wearing it at all. You should be wearing it because you want to and because God told us to.”

Masood Mirza, the event coordinator of the Muslim Student Association, said many of his friends have the wrong idea of what Islam is. He said members of his faith don’t speak out, and that one of the purposes of the week is to combat such ignorance.

“A lot of my Western friends — American friends — say that Muslims don’t speak out against what’s happening, so Islamic Awareness Week is our way of speaking out,” Mirza said.“We want people to learn what Islam really is. It is a message of peace and love.”

Mirza said many wrongfully believe that all Muslims hate the United States. He said this idea is incorrect and that he holds strong ties with both the nation, the state of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque.

“I think the biggest misconception is that every Muslim wants to hate America,” Mirza said. “I find that to be the weirdest thing ever. I was born in America. I was born and raised in Albuquerque. I love my state. I love my country. I love everything we stand for. I am willing to die for this country even.”

Mirza said the faith is based on community and positive relationships with other people everyon encounters.

“Islam is love, Islam is brotherhood,” Mirza said. “It is all about unity. That’s what the religion teaches. Islam is brotherhood, sisterhood… unity.”

Aaron Gardner, an ethnology student at UNM, said he believes that having an event such as the Islamic Awareness Week is very important to educate the University community.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions,” Gardner said. “I don’t think people know a lot about the religion, and they see extremist things on television. I think Islamic Awareness Week is important because it gives people a chance to learn about Islamic culture and explore different beliefs and ideas.”

To end this year’s Islamic Awareness Week, the Muslim Student Association will be hosting a trip to the Islamic Center of New Mexico today. The organization will also be present at the UNM International Festival on April 17.

Trip to Islamic Center of New Mexico

1100 Yale Blvd SE

1 p.m.