Islam Awareness Week Educates Campus Community


Hisham Mahmoud (c), lector in Arabic at Yale University, talks
with students in the living room of the Asian American Student Association house on Vernon Street as part of Islam Awareness Week.

From a short film featuring stand-up comedians explaining that “Allah Made Me Funny” to a night of poetry and reflection on the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad, members of the Trinity and Hartford communities were recently treated to a series of informative and entertaining events designed to better acquaint non-Muslims with the particulars of the world’s second-largest religion. Organized and coordinated by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the College’s first annual Islam Awareness Week sought to engage participants in intellectual and spiritual conversations about Islam. The program was entitled “Bridging the Gap: Islam’s True Colors.”

“It brought a more human and tangible view of who and what Muslims really are to Trinity, as opposed to the ones that are created through the media,” explains Kinza Elahi ’09, a member of MSA who helped to organize the week’s events. “The things I enjoyed most were the question and answer sessions, where I really got to understand how people perceive Islam from the questions they asked. We covered everything from the Danish cartoons to interfaith marriage. I was glad to see such strong interest from everyone who attended the events.”

The week’s activities offered an array of perspectives on various aspects of Islam, including a lecture and discussion focusing on “American Muslims: What Are They Facing Now?” with Jane Smith, author and professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary; a lecture, entitled “Prophet Muhammad Through Muslim Eyes,” and dinner with Hisham Mahmoud, professor of Arabic studies at Yale University; and an open prayer service and question and answer session with Sohaib Sultan, Trinity’s Muslim chaplain. A celebration of Muslim life and culture, including student presentations and a dinner of Indian and Pakistani cuisine, wrapped up the week’s events.

“My interest in MSA started as a result of my first-year seminar, ‘Religion and Immigration in American Life,’ with Professor Walsh,” says Mikhael Borgonos ’08. “We read a book in the seminar by Jane Smith, entitled Islam in America, which really caught my attention because up to that point I had no clear knowledge of Islam. By showcasing the true side of Islam through academic lectures about the Prophet Muhammad, for example, I learned that it is a religion of peace. Those who attended the events left with a new, positive attitude toward Islam.”

“The week’s events brought us all—Muslims and non-Muslims alike—together to build bridges of mutual understanding and cooperation,” notes Sultan, now in his second full year at Trinity. “My hope is that, through events such as this, we can continue to engage students, professors, administrators, and community members about one of the most important faiths in the world.”


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