This article originally appeared on smudailycampus.com on Sunday, March 4, 2012
Khurram Taufiq said it’s an awkward scene when he’s in a campus bathroom and someone walks in on him as he’s struggling to wash his feet in a waist-high sink.
As a Muslim, Taufiq must “cleanse,” or wash his arms, face and feet before praying to Allah five times a day.
When he’s on campus, the closest restroom is sometimes his only option.
“Those awkward moments are a good way to start talking about Islam, because it makes people curious and makes them want to ask more questions,” he said during the Islam and Art display last Thursday in the Hughes-Trigg Commons.
This was one of the events used to promote “The Islamic Way: A Life of Balance and Moderation,” the theme used by the Muslim Student Association last week during Islam Awareness Week, an annual event at SMU.
The event, which lasted Feb. 27 through March 2, was held to raise awareness about Islam to the SMU community. All last week, the MSA held events that supported its theme.
“Even learning a small amount opens doors to what Islam really is,” Taufiq said.
Monday was interfaith day, which hosted a panel discussion that evening featuring a head rabbi, imam and pastor. The panel discussed ways to build bridges between the different Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
“A lot of times people tend to focus on the differences when there are so many similarities,” Taufiq said. “Monday was a good starting point to show how similar they are.”
Tuesday’s awareness event involved a 24-hour Islam lifestyle exercise in front of Dallas Hall, which depicted how Islam isn’t just a religion, but “a complete way of life,” according to Taufiq, who is president of the MSA.
“It’s important to get another perspective,” Ben Franco, an SMU English major who attended Thursday’s event, said. “People have their own perspective and don’t challenge it much.”
The theme on Wednesday was Green Islam. Taufiq said most people don’t know that “Islam has been preaching going green and being environmentally friendly for over 1,400 years.” A lecture held that evening discussed why going green is a contemporary issue in the Islamic faith.
Safa Peera, an SMU student and MSA member, was at the Islam and Art event on Thursday draped in religious garbs, which she described as “loose and non see-through,” a requirement of her faith.
“Islam is something people see but don’t understand,” she said while pointing at the abaya, a loose, black robe that covered her from head to toe. “People are used to seeing people like me but don’t understand the whole concept.”
Islam Awareness week “gives people a chance to ask questions,” she said. “It’s an avenue for questions and clearing misconceptions.”
Thursday evening Dr. Pamela Patton, an art history professor at SMU, gave a lecture to about two-dozen students in the Hughes-Trigg Commons. She explained how Muslim culture has expanded to the rest of the world, citing two pieces of Islamic art that are now property of the Meadows Museum.
Seif Jardaly, an SMU senior, attended Dr. Patton’s lecture because he likes to “give time to cultural events for the free knowledge that can help you.”
Michael Wilburn, an SMU student, said, “Getting the history from a book doesn’t really help to see how Muslims actually live and their lifestyle.”
Wilburn, who said he has curiosity in the Middle East, said that awareness week to him was not only important, but also interesting and rewarding because, according to him, there aren’t enough opportunities in the U.S. to learn about Islamic art.
Friday’s theme was Islam in the Media. Taufiq said the way the media portrays Islam is more than often negative.
“Islam is a religion of peace, contrary to popular assumption,” he said. “There’s no contradiction to being a Muslim and an American.”
Peera hoped that students who attended the events throughout last week gained “a better sense of what’s behind Islam.”
“People are used to seeing what Muslims are, but we want to show them what Islam is,” she said.
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