By Adil Bentahar
Laramie, Wyoming – The Muslim Students Association (MSA) at the University of Wyoming (U.S.A.) is organizing the Annual Islam Awareness Week on 7-13 April, 2014. The main goal of this event is to provide the Wyoming community educational and cultural opportunities for a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
Activities scheduled for this year’s Islam Awareness Week include a cultural display, henna tattoos, a panel discussion, and attending the weekly Jumu’a (Friday) Prayer. Non-Muslims are kindly invited to attend the rituals of Muslims’ Jumu’a Prayer. All these activities also aim at promoting diversity and religious tolerance on- and off-campus in the state of Wyoming.
Islam Awareness Week is mainly known for its culminating activity: a presentation and dinner, where a Muslim scholar speaks about some controversial topic about Islam. This year’s speaker is Prof. Muhammad Shakir, Co-Imam of the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, Colorado, with a presentation entitled “Can Muslims Be Good U.S. Citizens?” Dinner and presentation are scheduled for Sunday 13 April in the Union Yellowstone Ballroom at 7-9PM. Tickets are needed for this dinner; they can be picked up from the Union Front Desk onTuesday and Wednesday.
The MSA officers and active members pride themselves on how this week-long event serves as a bridge between UW campus and Wyoming community. For example, last year’s event gathered more than 300 people; over two thirds of the audience was non-Muslim. Several families traveled from remote places in Wyoming, such as Buffalo and Riverton.
As former MSA President, I think that some Western biased politicians and media continue to reinforce the “dark” image about Islam and Muslims, which in turn serves ‘dirty’ political agendas. It is in this regard, that it becomes a responsibility on us Muslims to share who we truly are and what we really believe in. Events of this kind help break the existing stereotypes and pass the message that Islam is a religion of peace, coexistence, and spreading good in the community, including that of Wyoming.
Another important event of this year’s Islam Awareness Week is a panel discussion scheduled on Wednesday 9 April at 6.30-8PM; free dinner will be provided. According to MSA current President, Mustaffa Raga, “this year’s panel discussion will bring U.S. citizens who will share personal experiences with Islam. One panelist will speak about her experience wearing the veil in Buffalo, Wyoming”. No tickets needed for dinner at the panel discussion.
The Associated Students at the University of Wyoming is funding this event. The UW International Students and Scholars (ISS) Office has also contributed financially to this event. The MSA officers and members wish to express their gratitude to the University and the offices involved in making this event happen.
Opening remark of Last year’s Islam Awareness Week by former MSA President Adil Bentahar can be found here.
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