by Eyad Hamam
The mezzanine of the Hall Building teemed with activity last week as students
browsed through books and pamphlets about Islam, and asked questions at
the information tables set up as part of Concordias annual Islamic
Im really gratified that the Muslim Student Association is doing
this, and I think that theyve been very effective in getting general
information about Islam out there, said second-year Spanish major
The table that interested him most was the one dealing with women in Islam.
Since the table was being run by Moslem women, he had a chance to ask them
directly about how they see their role in Islamic society.
For Shama Naz, an honours economics student and the organizer of the womens
table, that was the whole point. When theres no direct dialogue,
all that people learn about Islam comes from the media, and theres
obviously a lack of communication, she said, adjusting her niquab,
a head-covering that covers the entire face, except for the eyes.
Often, while walking through Montreal, and even on campus, Naz hears comments
and snide remarks about the way she looks. The moment someone looks
at me, they think Im oppressed or misguided into wearing this, but
I wear it because I want to, because Im not out to display myself
as an object. She believes that wearing a covering should be a personal
choice, and that preventing women from wearing one is just as oppressive
as forcing them to.
As well as the information tables, students could also watch a PBS documentary
about Islam on a television set up nearby. They learned about Mohammads
early life as a merchant in Mecca, and the beginnings of his message at
age 40. This documentary is really quite good, because it explains
Islam in a historical context, and in an uncontentious way, explained
Ferhan Patel, a Concordia student and a member of the MSA.
In his opinion, Islam and the Quran are often misunderstood and misrepresented
in Canadian media. The most common misunderstandings include the oppression
of women, and the misinterpretation of Islamic terminology, specifically
the term jihad. We want people to come here so they can clarify
things, and so they can base their opinions about Islam on facts, he said.
Judging by student response to the fair, the MSA is succeeding in getting
information about Islam out to students. Last semester, Islamic Awareness
Day was held in November, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and
almost 50 Qurans a day were handed out to students. This semester, the number
has jumped to nearly 100 Qurans a day.
All one has to do to become a Muslim is say the shahada, Islams
main article of faith: I attest that there is no God but Allah, and
Mohammad is his prophet.