The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Chatham MSA works to educate students on Islam

Even for Chatham students, most of whom have progressive views and accept other people’s beliefs and ideologies, it is difficult to combat the prejudices evidently present outside the Chatham bubble.

On Wednesday, February 10, 2015 three Muslims, aged 19, 21, and 23, were gunned down in their neighborhood near UNC Chapel Hill by their neighbor. Police stated that the shooting was over a parking spot dispute while many within the Muslim community, including the victims’ fathers are calling the incident a hate crime.

The sister of one of the victims spoke to “The New Yorker” after the shooting stating, “It’s time people started talking about how real Islamophobia is — that it’s not just a word tossed around for political purposes but that it has literally knocked on our doorstep and killed three of our American children.”

Even though we may think that we left our racist ideals in the 1960s, prejudices are still pervasive in our society. Tragic events such as the Chapel Hill shooting, or the police brutality that ignited the Black Lives Matter movement can happen to anyone, anywhere. To combat this, one Chatham student organization is working to educate the Chatham community on Islamic beliefs and practices.

The Chatham Muslim Student Association, also known as the Chatham MSA, has put on several educational events about Islam. MSA is lead by junior Biology major, Maryem Aslam. Aslam took over MSA after seeing new leadership was needed to drive the organization forward. Aslam’s goal for the organization is to expand its reach to the Chatham Community.

“I want to let students know that this is not a club exclusively for Muslim students. The MSA exists to educate people on Islamic religion, current issues, and just as a resource to ask questions,” Aslam said.

Education has been a main pillar in MSA’s mission this year. MSA participated in Mocktails for the first time. Aslam saw the campus tradition as an avenue to enlighten students along with faculty and staff on why Muslims do not drink alcohol.

“Although we were at an event that was alcohol-free, the symbolism was that Muslims do not drink alcohol,” said Aslam.

MSA also hosted their Annual Eid Dinner. The dinner celebrates the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, also known as the breaking the fast feast. The holiday marks the end of Ramadan (the Islamic holy month of fasting)  and is celebrated by Muslims worldwide. In partnership with Parkhurst dining services, MSA provided a traditional Eid feast for Chatham Students and other local college Muslim student associations.

“The dinner had a nice turnout. We had some trouble with the timing so the event was around mid-terms but I have some high hopes for next year,” said Aslam.

On February 1, the MSA participated in World Hijab Day in partnership with Girl Up.  On this day, MSA sponsored a lesson on how to wrap a hijab. Non-Muslim students were welcomed to wear a hijab for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a whole day. Later that evening a discussion was held about why some Muslim women wear the hijab, and its significance.

Students of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome to join Chatham MSA.  Like the MSA Facebook page to get up to date information for all things Chatham MSA.

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    Tricia ChickaFeb 17, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Wonderful. Education is the key to understanding, and I also pray for open hearts and minds to receive the information. As a former member of the Christian Fellowship group at Chatham, I applaud your efforts. Will there be more interfaith/cosponsorship with other organizations? I found that to be some of the most profound work that we did as CCF. Cheers.