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Muslim Students' Association hosts Islam awareness week

March 13, 2012

For international relations sophomore Kanza Khan, Thursday won’t be the first time she has worn a head scarf. But it will be the first time she wears it for an entire day.

“I’m kind of nervous to see reactions in classes,” she said. “Obviously, people are going to ask questions. I hope to give them the proper answers.”

Khan is one of many students who will be participating in several events of Islam Awareness Week, a series of events from Monday until Friday hosted by the Muslim Students’ Association, or MSA, along with Briggs Multicultural Alliance and MSU’s Interfaith Council.

Ismail Kazmi, MSA education chair and a human biology senior, said he hopes Islam Awareness Week will dispel misconceptions students might have about the religion.

“After 9/11, we’re still in that phase where people don’t know what Islam is,” he said. “We need to tell them what it actually is.”

The week began with MSA Tabling, which runs through this afternoon, where members set up a table in the International Center and asked students trivia questions about Islam to test what students actually know about the religion.

On Thursday, MSA will hold its main event, Fast-a-Thon — Experience Islam.

MSA Vice President Kristen Schotts said students of all backgrounds are encouraged to try fasting, which means no eating or drinking, for one day until 7:30 p.m., before meeting in Room 115 of the International Center for a free dinner to discuss how they felt during the day.

Schotts said for each student who participates, $1 will be donated to the Greater Lansing Food Bank, 919 Filley St., in Lansing.

Khan, who has been fasting since she was 7 years old, said fasting teaches her discipline and to appreciate what she has.

“It’s something I think everyone should try, even if you can’t last the whole day,” she said. “I feel like you should push yourself.”

On Friday, Schotts said students are invited to participate in Project Downtown.

Students will meet at 4 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing, 920 S. Harrison Road, to make sandwiches and give them to homeless shelters in Lansing.

“In Islam, there is extra significance on feeding the poor,” she said. “That’s one of the things we’re required to do (as well as) give to charity, and this is a way for people to help out.”

By the end of the week, Kazmi said he hopes students will use Islam Awareness Week to find new understanding in a culture they might not know much about.

“It’s a very good opportunity, whether you are interested in religion or not, to see how people who are … not like you live their lives,” he said.

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