Islamic Students Celebrate Awareness

This week the Harvard Islamic Society joins Muslim student groups at colleges and universities across the United States and Canada in holding events in recognition of Islam Awareness Week.

Programming this week has included the film "The Message: The Story of Islam," a poster exhibit in the Science Center, calls to prayer on the steps of Widener Library and a panel discussion last night titled, "Islam as Anchor: Grounding the Spiritual, the Social, the Political, the Economic."

Society President Aamir A. Rehman'99 said the week was aimed at raising the visibility of the Muslim community on campus and educating those who would like to learn more about the religion.

David G. Mitten, Loeb professor of classical art and archaeology and the faculty adviser to the Islamic Society, said he hopes the week corrects misconceptions about Islam.

"I think it's very important that the larger Harvard community understand just what Islam is and what Muslims believe-that Muslims are dedicated to building a better society at Harvard and in the world," Mitten said. "We must fight the misinformation that hampers Islam in the United States and, surprisingly, in communities like Harvard."


Mitten also expressed hope that such a goal could be achieved.

"We must find ways to open up Islam so that people can understand and appreciate Muslim practices and lives, perhaps even choosing to follow Islam themselves," he said.

While the events are aimed to better educate the Harvard community about Islam, Rehman said the events were not a response to a perceived anti-Islamic atmosphere at Harvard.

"I don't think there is any particular sense that there is any anti-Islamic sentiment on this campus," he said. "There is no evidence of an anti-Islam perspective here, but there is a lot of ignorance," he said.

Rehman said that the number of Islamic Society activities have increased recently along with the size of theIslamic student community. He said that there areabout 150 undergraduates who have identifiedthemselves as Muslim to the United Ministry, theUniversity's interfaith coalition of chaplains,which offers religious programming.

The speakers in yesterday's panel discussion,which was attended by about 40 spectators, were:Hossam El Gabri of the Islamic Society of Boston;Fatima Iliasu and Abdallah bin Laden, students atthe Law School; and Suheil Laher, the Muslimchaplain at MIT.

The events continue tomorrow, when the societywill hold another call to prayer on the steps ofWidener Library at noon and present a speech byGSAS doctoral candidate and Islamic Societygraduate adviser Taha Abdul-Basser. Abdul-Basser'sspeech is titled "Projection, Perception andOrientation: The Muslim Presence in America," andwill be given at 4:30 p.m. in Emerson 103.CrimsonMelissa K. CrockerVERY INTERESTING:JOSEPH BOURGHOL '99examines a poster in the Science Centerpublicizing Islam Awareness Week yesterday.