Islamic Society Stages Public Prayer to Spread Message of Understanding

To raise awareness of diversity at Boston University (BU) and combat stereotypes that contribute to Islamophobia, the Islamic Society of Boston University (ISBU) hosted a public prayer on the university’s campus last week.

Nadea Zahra, BU senior and ISBU Sisters’ religious chair, told The Daily Free Press that the public prayer was a way to educate the community about Islam.

“We think that it’s our duty as Muslims to spread the real message behind Islam,” she said. “We want people to be familiar with our religion, and we want them to get to know Muslims from Muslims, not from the media.”

Other ISBU members and BU students added that the political rhetoric around Muslims recently has inspired them to publicly express their religious beliefs.

“It’s important, especially with the current presidential election, to show people what the real Islam is,” said Needa Shaikh, a freshman at BU. “You shouldn’t be afraid to practice your religion freely and openly.”

Sixteen ISBU students — six male and 10 female — prayed at 7:15 p.m. in Marsh Plaza, a central location on the university’s campus. The participants lined up in two lines behind an imam — someone who leads Islamic worship — with the men and women in different rows, as dictated by Islamic teaching.

ISBU President Taiba Zahir explained to The Daily Free Press that many people believe Islam to be discriminatory against women, but that this is not the case.

“Something most people don’t know much about is that Islam is a very empowering religion for women,” she said. “There are many stereotypes about that, and this is the perfect opportunity to break those stereotypes.”

The public prayer was also held as part of BU’s Gender Advocacy and Progress Week.