There are many stereotypes that come with being Muslim. However, many of these stereotypes are formed due to a lack of knowledge. A program this past week at Rollins raised cultural awareness of the Middle East, particularly for women. The program served to dispel some stereotypes and to educate Rollins students.The Middle Eastern cultural awareness program began with a presentation on November 12, run by Ms. Akifa Khattak. She began with a brief introduction to Islam, explaining some beliefs that Muslims generally hold. She also explained some common misconceptions. One important distinction that she pointed out is that Muslims are adherents to the religion of Islam, words that are commonly confused or even used interchangeably.
A major misconception that people have of Islam is that women are prejudiced against or forced to wear a hijab (i.e., headscarf). However, this is untrue. Ms. Khattak said, “In Islam we believe that women are like jewels.” Many women choose to wear the hijab to protect their valuable modesty, not because they are forced to. The primary aspect of the program was to allow women to wear a hijab for a day. Free hijabs were given to the girls that attended the presentation, and they wore them around campus on Wednesday. This increased awareness of Middle Eastern culture in both the women wearing the hijabs and those with whom they interacted.