Muslim Student Association celebrates Islamic History Month

Virtual celebrations include educational social media series, online art, and heritage event

Everyone is welcome at QUMSA events.

This year, the Queen’s University Muslim Student Association (QUMSA) is turning to Zoom to celebrate Islamic History Month.

In its celebrations, QUMSA is focusing on the promotion of and education about Islam. This month, it’s running social media campaigns and hosting several online events.

“It is a bit challenging this year because it’s online, but our mission stays the same with Islamic History Month: to actively remind people of the beautiful aspects of Islam and its effect on the historical and modern culture in society,” Yara Hussein, QUMSA director of Dawa and education, told The Journal.

QUMSA is posting a series on its Instagram and Facebook pages, featuring a different Muslim person each day. The daily posts include the individual’s achievements and what can be learned from them.

“It’s proven to be successful so far,” Hussein said. “People are enjoying it.”

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QUMSA is hosting an online Islamic art and heritage event on Zoom on Oct. 25. The event will involve a poem recital, a discussion of the Quran, an Arabic calligraphy workshop led by a local Syrian artist, and a talk by an Islamic art expert.

“We’re really excited about this one because we haven’t really had a lot of artistic events relating to Islam specifically, so this one’s gonna be pretty fun,” Hussein said.

The event is occurring instead of the month’s usual in-person movie viewing. Hussein said QUMSA expects more students to attend the art and heritage event than would attend the usual movie viewing.

“With the online platform […] we believe that it will increase attendees, just because it will be more accessible for people,” she said. “So I’d say accessibility has definitely changed with the online platform.”

Along with Muslim student associations around the world, QUMSA is participating in a charity week event from Oct. 26 to Nov. 1.

Normally, charity week is QUMSA’s biggest event of the year. The event usually involves an auction dinner and other daily in-person activities.

Charity week is happening entirely over Zoom this year, involving a guided exercise event, a virtual escape room, and a gaming competition.

“With the online platform so far, it has been definitely a bit of a struggle,” Hussein said. “But we’ve made the best out of it and we’ve seen it as a great opportunity to work on our outreach and our networking with other clubs, and we’ve seen that to be really improved this year.”

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QUMSA is collaborating with the University of Ottawa Muslim Student Association (UOMSA) on Oct. 13 to promote a virtual webinar called “A Brief History of Black Muslims in Canada.” The webinar will be led by the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC).

“In the past at least, there hasn’t been enough about the intersectionality between Black people who also identify as Muslims,” Hussein said. “So this will also be a really good event to celebrate people who both identify as Black and Muslims in Canada.”

QUMSA is also hosting weekly remembrance gatherings led by its chaplain, along with monthly Sisters and Brothers events with Islamic history trivia nights.

These events were also run throughout September, and Hussein said participation was “as decent as it would be in-person.”

The association held three open houses at the start of the semester to maintain student engagement. They’re also using incentives like prizes and gift cards to encourage students to attend their events and maintaining a strong social media presence.

“So far we have a good handful of people who have signed up for our events,” Hussein said. “We’re just really looking forward to have these events online and seeing the attendees and the participation that will come with [them].”

Everyone is welcome at QUMSA events, regardless of religious affiliation.

“It’s really important to recognize our presence in Canada, and our achievements as well as remember the history of Islam in Canada,” Hussein said. “This month has great value to us because we’re able to both celebrate and reflect and share this knowledge.”

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