Misconceptions of Islam addressed at gathering
Muslim students share stories of personal faith
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
The Muslim Student Association promoted peace and an understanding of the Islamic religion in America during a spoken word event held in LA-100 on Thursday.
The event featured guest speaker Sheikh Mohammed Alawi, who spoke on the importance of preserving the Muslim identity while adapting to the American culture. The event also featured spoken word artist Mikhail.
Sociology major Abeer Mashal said she had just heard about the event and wanted to participate to encourage an understanding of a religion that has misconceptions about it.
“When you are a Muslim woman the threat is higher because of the traditional garments we choose to wear,” Mashal said. “We have to deal with a lot of discrimination because of our faith.”
The recent attack of El Cajon resident Shaima Alawadi in her home near San Diego proves there are still hate crimes being perpetuated toward Muslim Americans, Mashal said.
She said a lot of people think that the Islamic religion is about hate and vengeance, but it is the exact opposite.
The most important thing for Muslim people to do is hold on to their identity in the midst of adversity. Instead of changing one’s identity to assimilate into the host culture, one should educate the host to understand his or her culture or religion, she said.
Alawi spoke about the human identity in the Islamic tradition, and examined what it means to be Muslim in America and the importance of holding on to tradition.
Spoken word artist Mikhail recited an original piece titled “Candy Land.” He said the poem was a real life experience, but he changed the names of the characters to candy names.
The poem was about a kid growing up in the streets living a violent life of drugs and guns.
The event also included testimonials of people who converted to Islam from other faiths.
Los Medanos College journalism major Abdul Akim said he grew up Jewish and converted to Islam more than a year ago.
He said he had tried to follow the doctrines of the Jewish religion but never found spiritual truth in something many people did not take seriously.
“One day I was observing the Sabbath. On the Sabbath you are not supposed to do any work. And one day my mom was doing some housework and I told her, ‘Hey mom, it’s the Sabbath and I’m trying to respect that.’ She really didn’t care or bother with it.”
He said he discovered the MSA and felt a genuine respect for its members who were so caring.
“I never felt pressured by anyone in the group. Every time I went around them, they just expressed such gratitude it made me more interested in what they were teaching,” Akim said.
Liberal arts major Mark Lucas said he had to go to a previous MSA event for a class assignment. He enjoyed the event and decided to come back.
“I wanted to participate so that I can understand. With understanding you can unlock all the stereotypes that people have,” Lucas said.