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International Muslim History Month participation increases tenfold, organizers say

LONDON: Global participation in the fourth annual International Muslim History Month, which began on May 1, has increased tenfold compared with last year, organizers said, and more countries are taking part.

The aim of the annual global event, which was founded in 2021 by the World Hijab Day Organization in the US state of New Jersey, is to highlight the achievements and contributions of Muslim men and women throughout the ages.

The month-long celebration therefore “serves as a testament to the rich tapestry of Muslim heritage and the indelible mark Muslims have left on history,” the organization said, adding: “IMHM is an inclusive commemoration, welcoming participation from people of all ethnicities and religious affiliations.”

The organization told Arab News: “IMHM is fairly a new initiative and change is slow. However, looking at our social media platforms, we can see that our reach and engagement are 10 times more than that of last year.

“We are very happy to see actual events taking place in countries like Scotland to commemorate IMHM. Additionally, we had prominent scholars such as (Zimbabwean) Mufti Ismail ibn Musa Menk retweeting our post to bring awareness of IMHM.

“From pioneering scientists to visionary artists, from compassionate leaders to groundbreaking scholars, Muslim history is filled with stories of resilience, innovation, and compassion.”

One of the key objectives of the event is to actively counter Islamophobia on a global scale by encouraging students, educational institutions, workplaces, businesses and organizations to recognize, appreciate and celebrate the valuable contributions to society made by Muslims.

The theme this year is #MuslimLegacies, which the organization said “refers to the lasting impact, contributions, achievements and cultural heritage left behind by Muslims throughout history.” This “includes their advancements in various fields such as science, art, literature, philosophy and architecture, as well as their influence on social and political development in different regions of the world.”

The event is using social media platforms to draw attention to the stories of Muslim change-makers in the modern era, the specific inventions, innovations or developments they brought about, and their lasting effects on the world.

The Muslim figures in the spotlight this year include: Saudi biotechnologist Dr. Hayat Sindi; Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan; Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza; Saudi medical student Renad Al-Hussein, who developed technology to make driving safer for hearing-impaired people; Afghan tech entrepreneur Roya Mahboob; and the late African American civil rights activist Malcolm X.

“Additionally, we are conducting a month-long International Muslim History Month Virtual Conference every Friday in May, live on (all the World Hijab Day social media platforms), with lineups featuring esteemed speakers from diverse backgrounds, including technology, medicine, politics, humanitarianism and fashion, offering invaluable insights into their respective fields,” the organization said.

“Through IMHM, our objective is to unite the world in learning about, acknowledging and celebrating the significant contributions of Muslim men and women, both historical and contemporary, who have profoundly influenced humanity.

“With Islamophobia at its peak amid the current situation, our aim is to foster connections between communities by embracing and honoring IMHM.”

It continued: “In the last 25 years, especially after 9/11, people seem to have forgotten about all the good things Muslims have done. Instead, they unfairly stereotype Muslims as terrorists. That’s why we’re using this hashtag (#MuslimLegacies), to gently remind everyone of the positive impact Muslims have had.

“It’s a way to highlight the many great things Muslims have accomplished throughout history and still do today. We want to challenge those stereotypes and show the world the true diversity and richness of Muslim culture and contributions.”

World Hijab Day is collaborating with Islamophobia Awareness Month, which was founded in 2012 by several British organizations and takes place in November each year, to help promote International Muslim History Month.

Organizers invite people to participate by posting messages of support and joining in the conversations on social media platforms using the #MuslimLegacies hashtag. They are also encouraged to contact government officials around the world to request a UN resolution officially recognizing May as International Muslim History Month, call for support of Muslim businesses, and encourage them to donate to Muslim organizations such as World Hijab Day to help them tackle discrimination against Muslim women and girls who choose to wear the hijab head covering.

Supporters of the event are also urged to read a biography of an influential Muslim figure, share the story, and call out any discrimination or prejudice against Muslims when it is identified in their communities.

The organization in particular called on educational institutions to raise awareness of International Muslim History Month in schools and universities and provide support by, for example, adding Muslim-related literature to curricula, making an effort to accommodate fasting students, providing halal meal options, offering areas designated for prayer, and inviting Muslim professionals, such as police officers and firefighters, to share with students details of the ways in which Islam plays a part in their working lives.

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