Breaking down misconceptions
Wilfrid Laurier University’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) has been promoting Islamic Awareness Week (IAW) this past week on campus. They have an interactive information booth set up in the Concourse, as well as various other events planned throughout the week, such as lectures and discussions.
“Our purpose is to help everybody understand the true meaning of Islam because there is a lot of misconceptions portrayed by the media and society,” explained Hassam Azhar, a team leader for MSA.
He continued by emphasizing that the group wants “people to know what Islam is, and clarify some misconceptions.”
One of the examples he gave was the example of a jihad.
“There’s a lot of misconception in the media that jihad [means] holy war, and it is frowned upon,” he said. “The truth is that jihad means ‘to struggle,’ or ‘something to strive for.’”
“There’s a campaign called the My Jihad Campaign where they have posters on buses and benches that say [things like] ‘my jihad is to go to the gym every morning.’ So what we’re trying to prove is that jihad is not always bad, it’s something that you work towards,” he continued.
MSA had a section at their booth in the Concourse where all students could participate in a smaller version of this campaign, which allowed them to express their struggles.
Azhar explained that the best way to engage non-Muslim students was through learning activities such as this. Another interactive component to their booth was a hopscotch game.
“Before you do the first step you have to answer either an Islamic question, or a non-Islamic question,” he explained. “If they don’t know [the answer] it gives us a chance to explain to them [the answer], and after they are done they get to ask us a question. Any other questions that they may have, we answer them.”
MSA believes that what is portrayed in the media, or spoken about in general terms, is not necessarily true.
“Muslim’s are people too, they’re just like you and me. Spreading a positive image is necessary for people to be happy,” concluded Azhar.
IAW events will continue until Friday.