The USC Muslim Student Union held a discussion on the relationship between black culture and Islam Monday evening in the first of eight Islam Awareness Week events.
The purpose of Islam Awareness Week, according to MSU Internal Vice President Mahmoud Hamza, is to illustrate the reality of Muslim culture in the face of Islamophobia.
“We want to push back to show different aspects and different sides of Islam from USC students’ perspectives and spread awareness to other students on campus,” Hamza said.
Monday’s event in Zumberge Hall of Science was meant to illustrate how “Muslims have solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement,” according to MSU Secretary Medeeha Khan.
“It’s very much a core of our theology to support the pursuit of equality for all races,” Khan said. “Given the climate of Islamophobia and the very questionable perspective of Islam that we see in the media, it’s a good way to see what Islam is really about by showing how we partner with such a progressive and essential movement as Black Lives Matter.”
African Muslims who immigrated to the United States were “foundational to the country,” Khan said.
The guest speakers at Monday’s event, Imam Jihad Saafir and Margari Aziza, discussed the life of Malcolm X, police brutality in the United States and the ways that the Muslim community can work to make a difference.
“When we’re talking about Black Lives Matter, we’re talking about really uplifting everybody,” Aziza said. “Are we going to stand with the most oppressed of this country, and what is our Islamic mandate? [Malcolm X] understood justice, and that’s what we need to stand for as Muslims.”
MSU has planned a series of events for the remainder of the week, each working to highlight Muslim culture in a different way.
Tuesday’s events will focus on anti-Muslim behavior in society as well as the treatment of women in Muslim culture, which Khan said has been misunderstood by those outside the Muslim community.
“Islam is about uplifting women,” Khan said. “In fact, it was the religion that brought about the uplifting of women and [gave] them rights and [encouraged] them to pursue their own sphere within the community.”
On Wednesday, MSU plans to distribute roses as “random acts of kindness,” as well as feature the stories of students who have converted to Islam, who Hamza said are “a very diverse group.”
A cultural showcase night is planned for Thursday, featuring the clothing and food of various cultures within the Muslim population.
“It’s a cool way to defy that misconception that Muslims are Arabs, [and] Arabs are Muslims,” said Aamna Asif, MSU event coordinator. “There’s so many different ethnicities, and it’s a cool event to bring that to light.”
Islam Awareness Week will wrap up with the donation of food to people on Skid Row, with preparation occurring Friday night and distribution happening Saturday morning.
“We like to be involved in the community and give back whenever we can,” Asi said.
Additional details, including the times and locations for Islam Awareness Week events, can be found online at MSU’s Facebook page.