As part of Islam Awareness Month, the Muslim Student Association hosted the event "Women in Islam" on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in Room 125 of the Harris Corporation Engineering Center.
"This event in particular has been a MSA tradition, but this year with the current events and the media blowing it out of proportion more than they have in the past, we thought it was necessary to have it," junior psychology major and vice president of MSA, Shazeen Ahmad Ahmad, said. "For a while we were thinking of replacing it with something new due to fear of redundancy, but women in the Islamic faith is one of the biggest misunderstandings. We wanted to clarify the confusion."
To start the event, students gathered together for the fourth prayer of the day, the sunset prayer, and were able to have a preface to the event and witness a subculture of the university and society as a whole.
"The MSA mission is two-fold. We want to help provide services to Muslims on campus as well as reaching out to non-Muslims to help them understand Islam and clear up any misconception," senior film production major and MSA president Abdullah Sabawi said.
The event included a keynote speaker, Najia Kurdi, who spoke of her personal conflicts with the misconceptions of Islam as well as the context of the Quran.
"The media speaks about freeing the women from the hijab, but we do not hear about the other side, the one where women are fighting to wear the hijab. It is their badge of honor. People have died for the right to wear it," Kurdi said.
Kurdi was raised according to the values of Islam, and explained that her parents had taught her to value herself as well as opinions, beliefs, and to respect other people as well as their beliefs.
"I think that there is a desire for any person to be understood whether you agree with their choices or you don't, there is so much that is not understood about Islam," Kurdi said. "Lately there is so much negative propaganda and a negative outlook that it hurts people. This is an opportunity to bridge the gaps. If I can put something out there to help someone understand me, whether or not they agree, I think it is something we should all do. We all live in the same world."
Although there are people who believe that Muslims are sexist, the Quran speaks of woman and man being seen as equal. Muslim women have had the right to vote for 1,400 years, can have a divorce, have ownership of property, can be business women, scholars or legal authorities, and unlike some cultures, they must consent to be married as well as name their own dowry, which is theirs to keep.
In the age of sexual objectification of women, Kurdi believes that women are beginning to trade one form of oppression for another.
"Now, women have fought for their rights, but they are subjugated to being judged only for their appearance and not their true self-worth," Kurdi said. "Islam says that women have to be respected for who they are, not for the way they look. Yes, you are valuable because you are intelligent, righteous and a good person. And yes we are beautiful too, but our beauty is preserved and protected. We will not use that beauty to have us subjugated to the whims of man."
Kurdi ended the speech with an analogy relating Islam to a jigsaw puzzle.
"Islam is like a jigsaw puzzle, you may not make sense of it at first, but once you begin to make shapes and combine similar colors, you begin to piece it together. You are able to witness something beautiful. All of those jagged pieces begin to form a picture, and once you put all of the pieces together, then you can make an educated decision about Islam and its women," she said.
February 16, 2011, Central Florida Future