By Megan Smith –
On March 31, as a feature of Islam Awareness Week, the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) of Arizona State University hosted a night of arts and culture of the Muslim world. Over 100 students attended. The evening featured traditional dances, a calligraphy showcase and a fashion show.
The MSA partnered with the Undergraduate Student Government and the Council for Arabic and Islamic Studies to encourage the celebration of the diversity of Muslims around the world. The MSA felt that the event should be focused on something special that people enjoy and selected arts and culture because of their universal nature.
Participating students wore different styles of dress native to the region they were representing. Many students had personal reasons for participating.
Saadh Monawar, the MSA public outreach director and a senior at ASU, was involved in planning the event. He was excited to wear his own thobe, a traditional robe for men, which was given to him by his father. By putting on this event and wearing his thobe, he said he hoped to be “doing a service to showcase his rich heritage.”
Wasiba Rahman, a sophomore studying business sustainability, had the idea of hosting a fashion show. At the event, she represented Bangladesh. “I feel like nowadays we lose our roots and get so focused in American culture that we forget our own. And so I wanted to show Muslims and non-Muslims that is there is more culture other than the Middle Eastern culture,” she said. Rahman was very happy with the fashion show portion of the night. She feels that is important to show the different clothing styles because, “When people think of culture related to Islam, they think of the religion and Saudi Arabia, women wearing all black. But in fact there is so much color, fun and texture.”
There were also students representing Malaysia, Indonesia, Somalia and Palestine.
After the main events, students staffed tables focusing on specific countries’ contribution to Muslim culture. There were examples of clothing, books and jewelry that were special to them. Participants were able and encouraged to have one-on-one discussions with the students at the booths about their country.
Mariam Fayed was wearing a traditional Palestinian dress. Her clothing represented what women would have worn back in the “old days.” She said, “The difference between now and years ago is today is more colorful.” She found the event to be a positive force. “Most people have negative misconceptions because of negative media and racist stereotypes and we are just people just like you,” said Fayed.