How American Muslim Students Encourage Dialogue and Peace?

Oakland-Students-Host-Ask-A-Muslim-EventROCHESTER Muslim students at Oakland University have offered free donuts and chocolates to encourage their colleagues to ask any questions they might have about their faith.

We started with donuts, but so many people came that we ran out, Muslim Student Association President Sumayya Master, told USA Today on Monday, April 11.

Sometimes people are shy, but we thought if there was food theyd come and they did.

The event, Ask a Muslim, was held at Oakland Universitys South Foundation Hall in Rochester, Michigan, late last week.

With everything going on in the world and the way Muslims are being portrayed in the media, especially, we feel as if its our job as Muslim-Americans to help people understand who we truly are and what our religion truly means, said Master.

The word Islam stems from salaam which literally means peace. Were here to spread peace and unity among the campus and help clear any misconceptions they have about Muslims or our religion.

Over 120 students stopped by the booth for free food or to learn more about Islam. Among the top questions of the day: the meanings of jihad and haram.

Jihad means struggle, said Master.

Its a struggle within yourself that you face, that we face, in our day-to-day lives to obtain something in the afterlife. Its not about war, its not about killing, but thats what its been portrayed as.

Some students also asked about halal, a term meaning permissible in Arabic that traditionally applies on food.

A lot of questions I get every day are about halal and haram, said Syed Didar, another student at the event.

When you explain to people why we dont eat haram food and take such care to kill an animal correctly, for example, they ask you why there are Muslims around the world killing other people and then you have to explain what theyre doing is wrong and how Muslims should live their day-to-day lives and fulfill internal struggle, Didar said.

Its a long conversation, too, but its really rewarding when you get to change peoples perceptions of Muslims. You can show people what its really about, then they start to realize that Muslims arent bad like the media sometimes portrays them to be.

For Muslim students, the event aimed at showing Muslim students in the campus to make it easier for others to hear from them about Islam.

Thankfully in (southeastern Michigan) we have a lot of Muslims so people tend to understand us and have been able to understand who we are as people, but thats not the case everywhere, Master said.

Were all here to learn, so ask the questions you can, said Master.

My advice for other Muslims is to be open to questions and my advice for non-Muslims is to ask away. Its by having those conversations that we can create better understanding in this world.

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