At the Harvard Islamic Society’s (HIS’s) weekly prayer service in Lowell Lecture Hall Friday (March 15), nearly 50 members of the University’s Muslim community gathered, as they do most weeks. As the Muslims bowed and prayed, sitting stocking-footed on carpets aligned toward Mecca, a dozen others watched from the seats of Lowell, one even filming the service on a videocamera.
The onlookers attended the weekly service as part of HIS’s Islamic Awareness Week. The annual event, which this year included several lectures and a banquet with Moroccan music and Middle Eastern and South Asian food, took on new significance in the wake of Sept. 11.
“There are so many preconceptions and misconceptions about Islam,” said Saif Shah Mohammed ’02, HIS president. Since Sept. 11, he said, “the trouble with a lot of these misconceptions and the fact that they exist is coming to the fore.”
Originally scheduled for November, Islamic Awareness Week coincided with the six-month anniversary of the attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Although the scheduling was entirely accidental, said Mohammed, the coincidence was welcome.
“It’s a reminder that a continuous exchange of points of view, of perspectives, of backgrounds, of ideas needs to take place,” he said. “It’s not something that was relevant just then.”
– Beth Potier