MSA hosts Islamic Awareness Week

Marissa Montoya

The first ever Islamic Awareness Week at Sacramento State took place April 13-16. The week’s events were planned by the Muslim Student Association of Sac State and consisted of activities that helped students learn about Islamic beliefs, as well as break down stereotypes and misconstrued ideas surrounding the Muslim culture.

The week began with “Flowers Day,” and continued with some trivia and interactive discussions in the quad. On Wednesday, April 15, MSA asked Sac State students to experience what it is like to wear a hijab, or head scarf, for a day.

Deisy Caro-Aldama was one of over 60 female students to participate in the hijab experience. Caro-Aldama, who was raised Catholic, though she does not practice actively, wore the hijab from 1 p.m. until she got home at 7 p.m.

“I was excited to wear a headscarf and as I walked around campus I felt a sense of pride and smiled a little extra to anyone I passed by,” said Caro-Aldama.

MSA supplied the hijabs for the participants offering for them to keep the scarves as well. The group held a meeting at the end of the day and invited the women who participated to come and share their experiences throughout the day.

“Many ladies said they looked different because their hair is no longer attracting attention,” said Abeer Hajeer, MSA vice president. “Those who kept the hijab on for the day said that they mostly caught people looking at them. One person said they felt a little more protected. Their friends did not say anything until they brought up the subject.”

Caro-Aldama said one of the main reasons she was so excited to take part in this experience was to experience a day in the life of her Muslim friend.

“Zehra is the first person I have met that is Muslim and we have become the best of friends and I love learning about her culture,” said Caro-Aldama. “She was very surprised and happy when she saw me wearing a headscarf. She said she was proud of me for keeping it on all day although it was very hot.”

Caro-Aldama credits the diversity and acceptance of Sac State students for allowing her to feel comfortable to take part in such an experience.

A lot of people she encountered throughout the day, who she sees every day in classes, showed interest in her new attire.

“They were interested in knowing why I was wearing the hijab. Some even wanted to also be part of this experience and asked me for more information,” said Caro-Aldama. “People didn’t treat me any different and I think that it because we are a diverse campus.”

MSA was happy with the overall turnout of over 250 student participants for the week’s events.

“People were very interested. Those who attended were so welcoming and interested in what we were doing,” said Hajeer. “We were happy to answer their questions and brighten their day. One person said on Monday (Flowers Day) that it was the first time they ever got a rose, which makes us happy that they were happy.”

Nader Tahir, the MSA public relations officer, was happy the first Islamic Awareness Week gave MSA a chance to connect with the Sac State community.

“We are just here to make a difference in the community; just show people we are just like them,” said Tahir. “It is kind of just saying hello to your neighbor. I mean we go to school together, why can’t we look at each other the same way? When can we start looking at each other as ‘us’ instead of ‘them’?”