Despite only being in her first year of teaching at Nepean High School, Ms. Ibrahim has already had an impressive impact on our school community. She founded the Nepean Muslim Student Association (MSA) and has been instrumental in the celebration of Islamic Heritage Month. I talked to her to find out what the MSA does, more about what makes this month important, and how our school is celebrating it.
Ms. Ibrahim told me she started the Muslim Student Association as a space for Muslim students to have a chance to express their beliefs, culture, and religion in a safe and friendly environment. As a visible minority, many Muslim students have experienced or witnessed discrimination and acts of hatred towards Muslims at some point in their lives. By running the club at Nepean, Ms. Ibrahim is making them feel welcome and reinforcing the idea that they are a valued part of our school community. Throughout the year, the MSA will perform their Friday prayers together, organize various cultural events that reflect their identities, and help the community through diverse fundraising events.
Next, I asked what exactly Islamic Heritage Month means to her.
“Islamic Heritage Month is a time to reflect, learn, and educate. I take this opportunity to reflect on my religious practices and strive to improve spiritually. I also search [for] new facts about other Muslim cultures to observe and learn [about] how they incorporate Islamic teachings into their daily lives. Educating fellow Canadians is an integral part of this month. Making myself available to answer questions, clarifying misconceptions, and providing simple and clear explanations to certain aspects of Islamic teachings are a few things I aspire to achieve during this month.”
As for what our school is doing this month, the Nepean Muslim Student Association is celebrating by having daily morning announcements that provide fun and educational facts about influential Muslim Canadians, as well as Muslims around the world. The MSA is also playing cultural music every morning to exhibit the variety of tunes and lyrics from the Muslim community. Additionally, Ms. Ibrahim and the Muslim Student Association will be holding their first fundraiser during this special month, selling new and gently used scarves to our school community. All proceeds from the sale will be given to a local charity.
On the subject of how others can take part in Islamic Heritage month, she told me, “Our community members can celebrate by embracing our cultural differences, and educating themselves about the true principles of Islam, away from the misinformation portrayed in the media.”
As we celebrate the 14th annual Islamic Heritage Month, it is a time to learn about Muslim cultures as well as recognize the significant contributions of Muslims in Canada and their continued excellence in our society today.