Last Wednesday, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosted “Islam Around the World,” a two-hour event that took place in the Elliot University Center auditorium, and featured students from and connected to different countries, who wished to share their cultures with the larger UNCG community.
The event was split into two separate parts: booths that the students created, and speaker presentations, which was directly followed by a fashion show.
The program was led by Ayah Khalifa and Faris Almubaslat. They opened the event with an invitation to another student, Saleh Al-Said, to read a passage from the Quran.
After, they showed a video titled “I Am…” interviewing multiple students. The students spoke both Arabic and English, saying their names, where they were from, and what they liked.
“I like to eat food from my country, especially when my mother makes it,” a student from Benin said on the video.
But most importantly, the students identified themselves as “Muslim Americans” or “American Muslims.”
The segment that followed was “Identity: Culture versus Religion,” a presentation by Dr. Omar Ali, Interim Dean of the Lloyd International Honors College and associate professor at UNCG.
The first portion of the talk was about the history and origins of Islam. He then went on to discuss the differences between Islam and Muslim. While both refer to a group of people, one, Islam is a religion. The other, Muslim, is a group of people from all over the world who bring their different cultures.
However, the most interesting aspect was probably the interactive portion. Ali asked for volunteers from the audience to say something about their country that they might not have known.
The second speaker of the night was Talha Javed from Helping Hand, an organization for global humanitarian relief. It helps those overseas rather than locally. It aids about 55 countries, 30 of which have offices for Helping Hand.
Javed began working with Helping Hand in March 2010. He went for spring break to Haiti to help after the earthquakes.
In Haiti, Helping Hand volunteers set up computers and taught the people of Haiti how to use them, provided food, opened medical clinics and gave school supplies to better teach Haitian children English.
Javed described his second day of teaching children English in awe, the day Helping Hand taught the orphans. There were 300-400 of them there, and Helping Hand volunteers were able to raise and donate money to orphans and their caregivers.
Javed and his group of volunteers then began renovating mosques, which are the houses of worship in Islam.
That August, he went to Jordan to help refugees. The help they provided was similar to what Helping Hand did in Haiti earlier that year.
They aided both refugees of civil war from neighboring countries and locals. There were many families, or what remained of families who survived, from places such as Syria, who had travelled to Jordan to seek asylum.
Again, the volunteers and Javed helped orphans and donated money to them and the people who were caring for them.
They also distributed food and supplies. The families Helping Hand assisted were those who were starving.
Javed, however, was not advocating just Helping Hand. He was advocating helping the world, something that the MSA wanted to have UNCG realize Islam stands for.
The event closed with a fashion show that showcased attire from a myriad of different countries and cultures.
At the end of the fashion show, Ayah and Faris led a quiz to see how much audience members could remember about the different clothing and food displayed from the fashion show and the booths. The MSA hosted an event which did what they had set out to do: allow students to celebrate and take pride in their different heritages.