Islam Awareness Week to focus on hunger

A member of the Muslim Student Association said he plans to denounce rumors suggesting a connection between the Islamic faith and terrorism during Islam Awareness Week.

U student Mohanad Mossalam, a member of MSA, said there are many falsehoods surrounding the Islamic faith and MSA members.

He said he hopes the impetus of the weeklong event will clear up many of the fallacies.

“Basically, the week will focus on the misconceptions people have about Islam,” he said. “When people hear Islamic, the first thing they think of is the Middle East.”

Though the MSA will talk about the problems in the Middle East, the week will also touch on issues in Utah, including hunger.

“Not many people know that Utah is the state with the largest starving population,” he said. “We will be raising awareness for hunger by hosting the Fast-a-thon Wednesday.”

In preparation for the week, MSA signed up students to pledge to go hungry for the Fast-a-thon in connection with Ramadan, the Islamic holiday.

Mossalam said during Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, water, smoking and sex from dawn until sunset for one lunar cycle, which lasts about a month.

“Right now, sunrise is around 6:30 a.m. and sunset is 6:30 p.m. so the fast lasts around 12 hours,” he said.

Local businesses pledged to do their part by paying $3 to the Utah Food Bank for every student who pledges to fast on Wednesday.

According to Mossalam, Ramadan is not so much about religion as it is about self-control.

“During Ramadan you learn to do without things you love,” he said. “It helps to break bad habits and helps you gain control over your cravings.”

The theme of the third annual Ramadan Dinner is “Go hungry for a day so someone else won’t have to.”

The MSA will host informational events and end the week with Open Jumu’ah Prayers at the Union’s East Panorama Room. Mossalam said the events are open to anyone who is interested in observing the Muslim practice.

Mossalam said it is important for all students at the U to be aware of the Muslim population on campus.

According to Mossalam, there are about 200 Muslim students on campus, but 50 attend Friday morning prayers and other activities.

“We hope by the end of the week more students will have an understanding of Islamic beliefs,” he said. “We anticipate participation from students and members of the community.”

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Islam Awareness Week Activities

Lecture: “De-Bunking Myths about Islam”Saltair Room, Union 11a.m. Lecture: “Between Theory and Reality”Union Theatre, 2 p.m.

Fast-a-thonSaltair Room, Union 5:30 pm

Islamic Art DayUnion Lobby 10am-3pm

Open Jumu’ah PrayersEast Panorama, Union 1:30-2:15 p.m.