LEXINGTON, Ky. — The religious holiday of Ramadan is underway, and the University of Kentucky Muslim Student Association is celebrating 50 years on campus with an Islamic Awareness Week.
MSA students at the University of Kentucky organized events on wearing the hijab and educating students about the Islamic religion.
Zaib Amatullah is the MSA Campus Outreach Chair, the person responsible for organizing a week of events with nearly 100 other MSA students and thousands of students on campus across the UK. Khadijah Ahmad is one of many students who serve on the MSA Board of Directors.
“I think for so long I felt like I had to blend in because I didn’t want to make people feel uncomfortable and this week showed me no – we have to allow ourselves to be seen,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad and Amatullah are British second year students who have been hijabees since seventh year. Ahmad is from Lexington with Palestinian roots, while Amatullah is from Louisville with Indian roots.
Amatullah said she endured passive aggressive behavior in response to her appearance, but her younger sister suffered physical and verbal altercations over wearing the hijab.
“Nothing direct for me. My sister unfortunately this year she had to go through a lot. She was in eighth grade and went to the same college as me, but it went downhill. She was harassed and took off her hijab and said 9/11. It was really bad,” Amatullah said.
The couple partnered with more than 100 MSA members for a week of events to inform their campus, which included a hijab giveaway and try-on event and an open discussion about the Muslim stereotypes they face. when they wear the hijab and practice Islam. Ahmad and Amatullah say they just want people to take the time to listen before judging.
“I want people to be comfortable coming to see me and I don’t want my hijab to be an obstacle to meeting new people and doing new things,” Ahmad said.
MSA will kick off its 50th anniversary banquet on April 16 at the Grand Ballroom at the Gatton Student Center.
The event is open to community members and students and registration will close on Monday, April 4 on their Instagram.