CU’s Islamic students held a unique event on Halloween in the Glenn Miller Ballroom: Everybody was invited to enjoy food, music and some culture education on the frosty evening.
Sights and Sounds of the Islamic World was hosted by the Muslim Students Association, a student group, to promote awareness, clarify common misconceptions and have some fun.
“This is our third annual event. We did it the first year, had a blast and decided we definitely needed to continue it as a yearly tradition,” said Medhat Ahmed, president of MSA and a senior MCD biology major, a couple of hours before the evening began. “We’ve been advertising big-time for this: posters, flyers, e-mail notices, everything we could think of. So I really do hope people will turn out. It’s for everybody. We want to help people see things about our culture, origins and other things that might not be common knowledge.”
Although the community of Muslim students on campus is relatively small, Ahmed was optimistic about its expanding voice.
“I feel like our presence is growing. It’s certainly not the most prominent, but people definitely seem to becoming more aware of our cultural scope,” Ahmed said.
The Glenn Miller Ballroom was arranged with tables set up with jugs of water and a traditional juice, known as vimto, made mostly from raspberries. Various posters of information regarding Islamic heritage and history were tacked onto stations lining the border of the room. One station even offered to photograph people in Arabic clothing or scribe attendants’ names in calligraphy.
Free religious texts and pamphlets were also available.
“The main point of tonight is to shatter common misconceptions about Muslims and Middle Eastern culture,” said Bilal Yousufi, a MSA member and junior electrical engineering major . “Especially in today’s times of political upheaval and controversy around the world involving Muslims, it’s important that we try to maintain our true identity and help to share its real forms.”
With a prayer from the Quran to start the evening, the growing audience was urged to remain silent during and after the ceremonial utterance. Conversation and applause were discouraged. After chanting in the holy text’s original language, Hassan Mansouri, a senior systems major, quietly walked off the stage.
After the prayer, free food was served: chicken and beef kebabs, pita bread, hummus, an Arabic salad and desserts attracted a long line.
While the audience ate, Mansouri provided a brief summary of a few Muslim cultural quirks, such as the tendency to ignore personal space or refusing to shake anybody’s left hand.
“The left hand is considered more dirty than the right, so (the right) is the only hand used for handshakes and for eating,” Mansouri said.
The evening also included a fashion show. Student models displayed clothing worn by various Islamic countries. Most models chose to wear clothes from Saudi Arabia: white robes with red cloths draped over their heads and faces to shield the sun.
The evening concluded with a musical performance with string instruments and a prayer for official polish.