Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Muslim students kick off Islam Awareness Week
Annual event aims to provide forum, dispel misperceptions
Tara Brite
published on Tuesday, March 28, 2006

-Deanna Dent / THE STATE PRESS
Deedra Abboud speaks to students and faculty about misunderstandings of Islam in the Memorial Union Monday afternoon.

The Muslim Student Association kicked off its annual Islam Awareness Week Monday with a lecture in the Memorial Union aimed at dispelling Muslim stereotypes.More than 20 students attended the lecture that featured Deedra Abboud, executive director of Arizona's chapter of the Muslim American Society. Abboud asked students to list stereotypes they had heard about Muslims.The MSA is sponsoring a week of activities, including a lecture in the MU each night, a falafel-and-gyro sale on Hayden Lawn today and a tour of the Islamic Community Center on Sixth Street and Forest Avenue Thursday. Hazim Nasaredden, an MSA member and biochemistry senior, said Islam Awareness Week not only unites the community's Muslims, but also gets more people interested in learning about the religion. "It provides a forum for students to learn about things they don't know," Nasaredden said. The most common misconception about Muslims is that they, and all Arabs, are terrorists, Abboud said. There are more than 2 billion Muslims in the world, she said. "If all Muslims were terrorists, and they all killed one person, there would be 2 billion people wiped off the earth immediately," she added. "So this can't be true."Many people believe Muslims worship a different God than the Christian God and that they don't believe in Jesus or the other prophets, Abboud said. "We have the belief in one God," she said. "Allah means God."Another misconception is that all Muslim women are oppressed, Abboud said. Islamic women were given the rights to vote, get a divorce, work and get an education 1,400 years ago, she said. "But women took these rights for granted," she added. "Women tend to get busy, so their rights were slowly taken away and they didn't notice."People generally think these women are oppressed because they wear scarves, Abboud said. But the majority of women who wear scarves choose to wear them to remain modest and express their identities, she said. "Anywhere I go I'm seen as a Muslim," she added. "Or a nun, but I'm OK with that because I get treated with respect."Abboud said a person is Muslim once he or she takes a declaration of faith. This declaration requires a person to pray five times a day, fast for 30 days each year, make a pilgrimage to Mecca -- the most holy city in Islam -- and provide 2.5 percent of his or her net earnings to the community when it is affordable, she said. Molecular biology sophomore Moe Abdalla said the lecture was informative, and it changed his perspective of why Muslim women wear scarves."It was the opposite of what I thought," he said. "It was very educational."English literature major Diana Coleman said she attended the lecture because she is earning her Islamic studies certificate. The discussion with Abboud was very informative, she said. "It gave a chance for people to confront their beliefs and get feedback to rethink what they believed," she added. Reach the reporter at

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