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.