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The Muslim Student Association spreading information in the Plaza

MSA member Naema Shafi holds a sign encouraging students to ask her questions about Islam
Freshman biology major and MSA member Naema Shafi, holds a sign encouraging students to ask her questions about Islam on the LSC Plaza on Thursday. (Photo credit: Lawrence Lam)

Most students dress to match the unpredictable weather in Colorado. Israa Eldeiry, and Muslims as devoted as her, do not have this issue. Regardless of the Colorado sun or its relentless snow, she is fully dressed everyday from head to toe.

“It’s definitely hard sometimes, walking around and knowing that every girl is wearing short shorts and tank tops and I’m over here 100 percent covered up in this crazy heat,” Eldeiry said. “Having a strong faith has helped me get through that.”

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The Muslim Student Association provided a booth Thursday in the LSC Plaza to answer questions from students about the religion. They also had informational pamphlets and traditional hijabs and kufis for students to try on.

Eldeiry, MSA’s president and a sophomore social work student, says she frequently receives far-fetched questions.

“I’ve gotten asked ‘Do your parents know how to make bombs?’ I’ve gotten, ‘Do you take a shower with that [hijab] on, do you change it everyday?” Eldeiry said. “Even though they clearly see me wearing a different one everyday.”

The questions may seem silly, even rude at times, but Eldeiry stressed that she does not get offended as long as people are genuine. She would rather have people ask questions they’re too afraid to ask and get answers then to live with a misconception.

The lack of dialogue is spurring MSA to reach out to students to provide information, but many students are still hesitant to ask questions.

Senior Spanish major, Noah Schilling, said his neighbor is Muslim. They have been close friends since freshman year and occasionally they have dinner at each others’ homes.

“When I first met them I asked all these questions, because I was really curious about it, so I basically asked them for a summary of it,” Schilling said.

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Noah Schilling, junior spanish major, tries on a Kufi in the Plaza as a part of the MSA spreading the Arab culture on the LSC Plaza. (Photo credit: Lawrence Lam)

But, with tensions rising in Syria and Iraq with ISIS, recently he said he finds it difficult to ask questions.

“It is an important issue and it’s not something I should feel I can’t ask about because I’m sure they have an answer,” Schilling said.

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Schilling’s said his unfamiliarity with Islam has even made him question whether or not he can hug his Muslim friends.

But, this is not the tale for all students. Some are excited to see MSA out-and-about answering questions.

T’hani Holt-Middleton, a sophomore family consumer science student, hails from a predominantly Catholic home. She said she is looking into Islam and says she wants to explore the faith. Her parents do not know she is religiously experimenting.

“They would not be pleased,” Holt-Middleton said.

She said she believes that booths like MSA are necessary in order to denounce stereotypes.

“I just don’t think people are as informed as they should be about different religions and different cultures,” Holt-Middleton said.

While some families scold their children for leaving a religion to become a part of another, MSA Treasurer Jonah Rudolph had the opposite experience.

“What happens to a lot of Muslims is that they come from Christian families and sometimes they can get kicked out of their house or abandoned,” Rudolph said. “But coming from an atheist family, a lot of my family members, they were like, ‘Yeah, do your own thing.”

He found Islam two years ago and now his mother cooks without pork, as part of the halal practice. He was born into an atheist family and later converted to Buddhism and then Islam.

“I didn’t want to say I was atheist to people and then you’d get this look. People really don’t like atheists. They also have stereotypes,” Rudolph said. “But, when I could label myself with Buddhism people were like ‘you’re peaceful and stuff like that.’ So I think that was part of being Buddhist for me, it was just the label that I liked.”

He chose Islam, which did not dispute his scientific beliefs, part of the reason that pushed him towards the religion.

The MSA is a student organization dedicated to informing and disproving the abounding number of Muslim stereotypes.

“We’re normal people, we just follow a different religion,” Rudolph said.

Students are welcome to join MSA at an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to celebrate their new facility, located at 925 W. Lake St. RSVP is requested and can be sent to admin@icfc.org.

Collegian reporter Lawrence Lam can be reached at news@collegian or @LawrenceKLam.  

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