MSA Launches First Islam Awareness Week

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This week, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) will be hosting the inaugural Islam Awareness Week, an attempt to raise awareness of the group’s (and the religion’s) presence on campus. There will be several events throughout the week, focusing mostly on the experience of Muslim life.

Monday will feature screenings of two TV shows about Muslims, beginning at 4:30 in Kohlberg 226. One, Little Mosque on the Prairie, is a Canadian sitcom about a mosque in rural Saskatchewan; an unreliable source claims that it “derives much of its humour from the interactions of the Muslims with the non-Muslim townspeople…and by the contrast of conservative Islamic views…with more liberal interpretations of Islam.” The other show is an episode of 30 Days, a reality TV series where in each episode a character lives in an unfamiliar situation for a month. This episode features a devout Christian from West Virginia living with a Muslim family in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in Dearborn, Michigan. The screenings will be followed by discussion.

Tuesday, at 7:00 in Sci 199, MSA will show Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet. This PBS documentary tells the seventh-century story of Islam’s founder; the movie’s co-creator and producer Michael Wolfe writes on the film’s website, it “goes well beyond the boundaries of the past…in it, we reflect on this 7th century story through the experiences of 21st century Americans who feel deeply connected to what Muhammad did, said and believed.” Read more about it on the PBS website.

On Wednesday, there will be a talk entitled The Ventures of Adam and Eve in the Qur’an, which will be on the “meaning(s) of human life on Earth, portrayed through the Qur’anic story of Adam and Eve,” according to Ailya Vajid, a coordinator for the week. The talk will be in Kohlberg 115, beginning at 5:00 after a 4:30 reception.

Finally, Thursday will feature a culminating panel by the name Islam, Identity, and Being Muslim in America. The panel will be made of both students and professors, including Religion professor Tariq al-Jamil and Sociology/Anthropology professor Farha Ghannam. The panel aims to answer any questions Swatties might have about Islam. Questions can be submitted anonymously throughout the week, at Sharples, in a box at McCabe, or via email. The panel will be at 7:00 in the Scheuer room, with a reception at 6:30.

MSA hopes that the events of this week will help raise both awareness of the Muslim presence on campus and knowledge about Islam in general. Said Vajid, “We’re a small group, so we easily fall through the cracks.” She added that “nowadays, anything related to Islam and Muslims or that part of the world is…taboo to discuss”; the goal of the panel is to foster discussion in such a way that nobody is embarrassed to ask whatever questions they might have. If successful, the event is likely to repeat in the future.

At publication, this story claimed that MSA would be showing the PBS documentary Prince Among Slaves, which premieres on PBS February 4th. The group was unable to obtain rights for the movie, however, and so they will instead be showing Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet. The location of Wednesday’s talk was also updated after it was changed.


  1. 0
    Dougal Sutherland ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Greg: Exactly what I was about to say. I did change it to “a…neighborhood” rather than “the…neighborhood” to clarify, however.

    D. Harrison: Although quoting from or citing Wikipedia should indeed be frowned upon in general, for a general overview such as the one I used, rather than specific factual information or a substantive review, I don’t think it quite qualifies as “extremely shoddy journalistic practice.” Maybe just “mildly shoddy.”

    Nobody would reasonably dispute the claim made there, but it said almost exactly what I was looking to say, much more so than any of the reviews I read. The BBC review you mentioned, for example, contains a section on “Post-9/11 humour,” yet doesn’t have a succinct and quotable statement of the sentiment I was trying to get across. Wikipedia did.

    Although I could have rephrased what someone at Microsoft said last March, after having already read it, my words would have undoubtedly come out similar. I’ve had the need to avoid indirect plagiarism drilled into me since middle school, so I figured that in this case, since it was already said relatively well, I should just quote it.

  2. 0
    Greg ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The story mentions “the predominantly Muslim neighborhood in Dearborn, Michigan,” referring to an ethnic sub-neighborhood of Dearborn, not making claims about Dearborn or its concentration of Muslims/Arabs.

  3. 0
    D. Harrison says:

    It is sheer laziness as well as extremely shoddy journalistic practice to cite an “unreliable source” and point to Wikipedia. By digging a little deeper, as any credible journalist / blogger should, you can find reliable, thoughtful, quotable published reviews of the show in question (even the Wikipedia page contains links to BBC and NPR reviews of the show).

  4. 0
    Hassan A. says:

    When I was going to college, I didn’t hear or see much about the MSA. Now I notice they are having a much bigger impact on our campus and its very uplifting to know that Muslim students haven’t gotten discouraged.

    By the way, although Dearborn has the largest concentration of arabs in the country, it is not predominantly Muslim.

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