The Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosted the Islam Fair in Riddick Hall on Thursday as part of Diversity Education Week. Many of the organization’s leaders were hopeful about creating engagement and understanding with the faith.
The event brought many people, of various faiths and backgrounds, together to learn more about Islam. Planning for the event started at the beginning of the semester, according to Moneeb Sayed, a fourth-year studying science, technology and society and the president of MSA.
The purpose of the event was to reach out to and educate NC State students about the Islamic faith. Shiraz Ahmed, a fourth-year studying political science and criminology, and one of MSA’s two outreach chairpersons, hoped that the event would fulfill the organization’s duty of dawah.
“Dawah can branch over many aspects, one of the core ones is to call people towards Islam, but it also includes outreach, building a good relationship with the local community,” Ahmed said.
The event is an annual component of Diversity Education Week and was also a University Scholars event.
“I think this ties into Diversity Education Week directly,” Sayed said. “Islam is a diverse religion, it's not just everybody from one place.”
Sayed, as well as many other members of the organization wanted to send an encouraging message to students who are not involved with or know of the organization.
“We’re trying to send the message that MSA is not just for Muslims, even though it says Muslims in the title,” Sayed said. “It’s for people that are curious about their religion.”
Hanna Lawrence, a first-year studying management, was one of the students who heard about the event through the University Scholars Program.
“I was just interested in learning more, because I don’t know too much, but I think it is important to learn about religions different than your own so you can understand them,” Lawrence said.
The event consisted of multiple different stations including women in Islam, the basics of Islam, culture v. faith, henna, and Jesus in Islam. Each station covered a topic that key to the either the faith or the culture.
The basics of Islam station was led by Fiaz Fareed, a volunteer with the Islamic Association of Raleigh. Fareed spoke about the six articles of faith, the five pillars of Islam and the history of Islam and its culture.
The henna station demonstrated the cultural tradition of henna art, which are temporary pieces of body art applied to the body along the hands and arms. The paste used is made from the henna plant and applied directly to the body.
Sinthia Shabnam, a third-year studying political science and sociology and the vice president of MSA, recalled an experience making henna from scratch.
“When I went to Bangladesh when I was 12, my grandmother’s rooftop is covered with henna plant bushes, so we ground them up ourselves into a paste right before we ate to celebrate,” Shabnam said.
A highlight of the event was one of the five daily calls to prayer, which was performed in the Riddick Hearth for attendents to watch. This was followed by a session of prayer by those of Islamic faith in attendance at the event.
Sayed recognizes that MSA’s main challenge right now is engaging students, which he hopes the Islam Fair event helped to accomplish. He hopes that the organization can participate more on-campus.
“I know one of the big things at MSA that we’re trying to do is participate more with the campus activities,” Sayed said.