Fresh snow covered the streets of Burnaby Mountain as the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) volunteers began setting up a project that would storm Simon Fraser University. A Light Amidst the Darkness was the title for this year’s Islam Awareness Week (IAW). MSA SFU collaborated with four other universities across Western Canada along with NYM iNK to deliver their biggest project yet. With their main booth located in the Saywell Hall Atrium and other tables scattered across campus, MSA volunteers set out to raise awareness about Islam and to encourage dialogue between Muslims and people from different backgrounds. The collaborated theme, A Light Amidst the Darkness, aimed at breaking those misconceptions that people have about the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). With a keynote lecture or performance almost every night, IAW was creating a lot of buzz amongst students and staff at SFU.
This year, the MSA volunteers decided to get extra creative. Accompanied by the da’wah booths, volunteers played games and interacted with students who needed some cheering up. It was a sure way to spread happiness and smiling faces, as well as show people that Muslims can also be fun. On Monday, volunteers decided that the hallways were looking a little dull, so they pulled out some rope and played a good old game of Da’wah Limbo. Participants who did not cheat (oh yes, we had a number of cheaters) received a water bottle with a hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) advising people to not waste water attached to it. A little limbo, a little da’wah, many happy faces. On Wednesday, MSA volunteers played Spin the Wheel with students. Participants spun a colourful wheel and answered a question about Islam or the Prophet (PBUH) and won chocolates with hadiths attached to them. On Thursday, volunteers interacted with participants and engaged in a puzzling game of Islamic Justice Hangman (an ironic game with an ironic title, matching the theme of our lecture on Shariah law in the evening). This was a great way start conversations and encourage people to come to the evening program. And finally, on Friday, we set up prayer mats in the Saywell Hall Student Lounge and prayed the Friday Congregational Prayer in public. This was an interactive way for people from different background see how Muslims pray and a few of them even decided to join in!
The SFU MSA also had a couple of shining moments. On the first day of IAW, two sisters from SFU took their oath (shahadah) and reverted to Islam, mashAllah. Two sisters from the MSA were also guests on the CJSF radio talk show, Ideas and Issues.
All in all, A Light Amidst the Darkness was a grand success, Alhamdulillah. The excitement and buzz is still lingering at the University and its lasting effects can be seen in the hearts of everyone touched by this project.