Muslim students respond to recent political events

GENESIA TING / AGGIE

Muslim Student Association curates five-part Davis Muslim lecture series

The UC Davis Muslim Student Association (MSA) will host a five-part Islam awareness lecture series on campus for students in response to the current political climate and prevalence of negative attitudes toward Islam.

The hour-long lectures, which include topics such as “The Chameleon Muslim” and the “Rituals and Practices of Muslims,” illuminate the shared and diverse experiences of Davis Muslims.   

Kumran Islam, a Muslim alumnus of UC Davis, spoke at the opening event on Jan. 25, entitled “What is Islam,” to dispel myths and spread accurate knowledge regarding the Muslim religion. Islam’s lecture provided an interactive introduction to the series, as he encouraged participation, questions and debate from the audience.

The recent Islamic Center of Davis hate crime emboldened Islam to speak and question the acceptance of his religion within America. Islam spoke about the Jan. 22 attack on the Islamic Center of Davis, where an unidentified female vandal laid bacon on door handles and shattered windows.

“I thought it was important to come today considering the recent hate attack on the local masjid,” Islam said. “I think it’s not only important for us to be aware of our Muslim brothers and sisters, but to understand how incidents like this cause us to reflect upon ourselves and who we are as American people — whether we truly fulfill the ideals that we proclaim to [have] as an American society.”

Two days after the first Davis Muslim lecture, on Jan. 27, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to temporarily ban travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Hansa El-Nounou, a first-year communications major, an MSA member and an upcoming speaker at the Feb. 15 talk, felt disenfranchised by the new president’s executive order.

“My personal, and others’, reaction was kind of that of mortification.” El-Nounou said. “We were holding onto the hope that he wasn’t actually going to pull through with it. It was really scary, but also, in a weird way, it was empowering to the community because we realized we have to stick together. We’re doing our best to be good Americans.”

Aafreen Latheef, a third-year civil engineering major and MSA member, worked in conjunction with ASUCD to present the lecture series. Latheef felt compelled to respond to political and social contention surrounding Islam.

“The problem, especially with the current president, is that there’s a lot of bigotry towards minorities and a lot of Muslim people are feeling threatened and attacked,” Latheef said. “We just wanted to spread knowledge about Islam.”

Adilla Jamaludin, a former ASUCD senator and a third-year international agricultural development major, started planning the series last quarter.

“I came up with this idea when I was still a senator with ASUCD last year, and the whole idea was that with the current political climate, it just seemed like the right time to have an informational series of lectures about the Muslim faith,” Jamaludin said. ”For me, it’s really nice to see this series happen because there’s different experiences for different Muslims on campus. There isn’t just one mold of what a Muslim is and it’s important to have that type of diversity of experiences shared. It’s also a great way for other students who are learning about Islam or the Middle East to be exposed to it on their own campus.”

Latheef invites and encourages non-Muslims interested in Islam to attend the remaining events.

“We wanted to target it towards non-Muslims who were curious,” Latheef said. “Maybe they’ll see that it’s a very peaceful religion.”
Written by: Aaron Liss — campus@theaggie.org