A winter of inclement weather did not stop Brock University’s Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) from running a successful Islamic Awareness Week.
The initial week of events took place in February, but continued inclement weather pushed several events until the week of March 4. One event, entitled The Legacy of Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him), had to be rescheduled once more. Despite these setbacks, the MSA’s efforts to promote Islamic awareness on campus have been successful.
According to Hamza Mallick, a third year Neuroscience student and a coordinator with the association, the MSA handed out over 70 copies of The Clear Quran, which was translated into English by Dr. Mustafa Khattab, to community members who were interested in learning more about Islam.
“Islamic Awareness Week is about getting rid of all of the stereotypes of Islam and helping Muslims learn more about Islam, as well. It’s directed to everyone, including Muslims, non-Muslims and anyone of any orientation,” said Mallick.
“[The first week] outdid my expectations for how many people would actually stop by the table, how many people would ask about Islam, how many people would engage in conversation about anything,” said Mallick.
Mallick said that he had expected anyone interested in learning more about Islam to pick up a Quran during the first week, but was pleasantly surprised to find they distributed even more during the second week.
According to Mallick, handing out copies of The Clear Quran provided an opportunity to increase unity between Muslim and non-Muslim community members as well as between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
There are some Muslim students who are not aware of the existence of the MSA.
“People don’t know about the MSA, people don’t know what we do and because of that lack of awareness, a lot of people just go on with their life without. A lot of people are Muslim and if you go into an environment where Islam isn’t even being spoken about, you tend to lose a part of yourself. I think your heart dies in university,” said Mallick. “If people don’t know about the MSA and about the events and about other Muslims hosting events et cetera, your heart does tend to die.”
Having planned approximately 10 large-scale events this year, the MSA has set the bar high for future programming.
“What we did this year should be upped next year,” said Mallick. “We can’t just have a good year then stagnate.”
There are still areas of concern on campus for Muslim students and community members.
“I guess there’s only one halal place that 100 per cent everyone agrees is halal,” said Mallick. “That’s in General Brock.”
Some other dining locations on campus provide halal options, which are foods that follow Islamic law, though there is debate about whether these alternatives are halal.
Mallick described the prayer room located in DeCew, which provides Qurans and literature, and is separated by a curtain for modesty when praying. It also has a facility for wudu, ritual cleansing before prayer, as many people have had to use washrooms on campus before.
The MSA contributes to bringing these concerns to light, while also focusing on running programming to educate and unite both Muslims and non-Muslims on campus, with an emphasis on low and no-cost events to ensure accessibility.
“The MSA is trying to unite the school,” said Mallick. “The goal of the MSA is to try our best to make things better for the Muslims in general. Not just Muslims — everyone. At the end of the day, we’re just human, just trying to help the people around us.”
Those wishing to get involved with, learn from or support the MSA can reach out to them through social media. Their Facebook page is Brock University MSA and Twitter account is @brockumsa.