The Oak Room was a portal to the entire world on Oct. 16, when the Muslim Student Association hosted their event, “Islam Around the World.” Counting as a First-Year-Experience Thrive credit, the event drew a first-year heavy audience of more than 80 people.
To begin the evening, a buffet of food from Muslim countries, including dishes like hummus, Turkish white rice pilaf, Halal chicken kebab and baklava for dessert, were set up along one side of the Oak Room. From 7:30 p.m. to 7:50 p.m., the audience was free to fill their plates and enjoy.
Then, at 7:50 p.m., attendees took their seats and listened to a 40-minute powerpoint presented by graduate student Ahmed Syed, Mohammed Alharlbali ‘20, Lejla Marckovic ‘20 and president of the MSA, Amira Ebrahim ‘20. The presentation outlined the traditions and cultures of several countries with large populations that follow Islam, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Lebanon, Nigeria, Indonesia, Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Ebrahim passionately presented her section on her home country, Egypt, in which she explained her country’s traditions surrounding Ramadan, an Islamic holiday during which believers “recognize blessings” and “become closer to God.” She talked about how the streets in Egypt are decorated with strings of lights, and every morning of Ramadan a man with a drum walks the streets and shouts for people to wake up. She even said that many families put in requests for him to say their children’s names as a fun tradition.
Ebrahim’s goal in organizing this event was to spread awareness about her religion.
“I came up with the idea because I feel like we need more people to know about the diversity of Islam as a religion,” said Ebrahim. “I want people to know just how broad Islam is as a religion. It’s not just towards the few countries that we see on TV, but also even beyond that, even the countries we do see on TV, they have so much diverse cultures within them, and different backgrounds within those countries and like, just the beauty of those countries.”
After the presentation was over, Henna artist Khizran Seyel gave attendees Henna designs on their hands and arms.
“I thought it was very interesting to learn about the different cultures that were presented,” said Danielle Sondgeroth ‘22. “I now have more of a knowledge about different Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East that I didn’t realize were majority Muslim, and how different they are from how Islam is presented in the United States.”
Ebrahim hopes that this won’t be the last time the MSA puts on this event, so those who missed out can look forward to more cultural food and education next year.