MSA spreads cultural awareness

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at hosted their “Muslims Around the World” event in the Main Lounge on Sept. 24 to celebrate and spread awareness of the diversity of Muslims across the globe.

Sarah Yenesel/ Photography Editor

The event was open to all students and featured traditional Muslim food from several different countries, as well as cultural performances. Some guests showed up dressed in traditional Muslim clothing to truly get into the spirit.

MSA said that their goal was to showcase the diversity in the Muslim culture as well as highlight the unique cultures they have within the organization and Islam.

“There’s that whole stigma that Muslims are all from the same place,” said Nasima Nagim, a senior accounting and finance major and the club’s president. “You’ve probably heard the joke that we’re all from Islam, but Islam is a religion, and Muslims are from everywhere. I don’t think people realize that.

“For us, Islam is a way of life because it’s our religion. I really wanted to make people more aware that’s there’s a difference between culture and religion.”

The executive board said they also wanted to emphasize that Muslims are not all Arabs. Rahat Islam, a junior economics major and treasurer of the club, said, “People affiliate us with being from the Middle East, but there are Muslims all over the world.”

Elif Kucuk, a senior social work major and the club’s public relations officer, explained how the event brought the members together. “We do have general body meetings, but we only have them a few times during a semester,” Kucuk said. “This kind of event brings everyone into one place where we can interact with each other, and learn each other’s names and cultures.”

The night opened with a warm welcome from Nagim. Then, Mohamed Elshekh, a junior diplomacy and religious studies major and the club’s vice president, led everyone in a recitation from the Quran.

SHU alumni Sikandar Khan and Oumar Kouraogo, the co-founders of Global Emergency Response and Assistance (GERA), shared their stories and the mission of and their passion for the organization.

According to their mission statement, GERA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting human rights and restoring the dignity of those affected by conflicts or disasters.

Roba Hassan, a sophomore special education major and the club’s secretary, said the executive board decided to donate the proceeds of the event to this organization. “Right now, they’re helping the global community and refugees settle into America,” Hassan said. “They’re helping them get back on their feet, get jobs, learn English, or receive any kind of assistance that they need.”

In addition, a lot of the refugees hail from the countries that MSA was representing. Nagim added, that through the event, “People can see the beauty of the culture, of those people, but also realize it’s different from American culture.”

After the speeches, attendees were free to experience the variety and abundance of food from all over the world. Some of the food included kibbeh, kanafeh, aish baladi, jalebi, shawarma and samosas.

There were several tables representing different countries such as Afghanistan, America, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Sudan and Turkey. The tables were decked out in cultural representations from each respective country, had fun facts about the nations and featured a variety of food.

There were several cultural performances throughout the event, including a performer playing traditional Turkish music on a baglama, a stringed musical instrument. Another performance was the Sufi Whirling Dervishes, a religious dance and type of meditation originating from Turkey.

Ishani Sachdeva, a sophomore economics major, said she enjoyed the event. “The event organized by MSA was aesthetically pleasing and had scrumptious food from all around the world,” Sachdeva said. “Overall, the event gave me an insight into our world’s diverse Muslim culture.”

Kristel Domingo can be reached at kristel.domingo@student.shu.edu.

Author: Kristel Domingo

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