MSA organizes annual Islamic Awareness Night
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 22:04
To show the humanistic side of their faith, the Muslim Student Association organized their annual Islamic Awareness Night last Thursday in the multipurpose room of the VC.
The night featured heaping piles of food, speeches by special guests, multimedia presentations including a video featuring a reading of the last words of the prophet Mohamed by Cat Stevens.
There was also a slideshow of significant Islamic art and architecture throughout the world and a demonstration of the Muslim style of prayer.
1The evening concluded with a question and answer session for both Muslim and non-Muslim students alike to learn about the culture of Islam.
The aim of the night was to let people know that Islam is not just a religion, but also a culture full of food, of fashion and of language.
One of the guest speakers for the night was Douglass Kelly, who told the audience, “I used to be involved in Real estate,” explaining how often times closing a deal “involved fake documentation.”
“I was helping people make fake papers…it was wrong and of course I got in trouble for it and had to serve a year in federal prison,” he said. It was there that he was first exposed to the faith and eventually converted.
Also speaking was Baruch student Yafees Sarwar, who touched on the history of Islam in the U.S., mentioning that “the founding fathers were sympathetic” to the faith, and also discussing the impetus for the emigration of Muslims into the U.S.
“Henry Ford was having a lot of problems with his workers getting drunk and causing problems,” said Sarwar. “He pulled in Yemenis to build his Fords because his factories were filled with drunken workers.”
In light of these historical realities, Sarwar also added, “The fact that we have to have an Islamic Awareness Night shows a failure” of the faithful to reach out in everyday life.
As the sun went down on the proceedings, the Muslims in attendance prepared themselves for their fourth prayer of the day. There was a call for prayer, and the male and female Muslims went to their separate areas of worship.
The Imam sang out his recitation of the Koran in a soulful, humble dirge, the faithful recited the Koran and whispered praises to Allah, standing in socks and bare feet as they stood in line facing Mecca on beautifully ornate prayer rugs while those who chose to observe stood on the sidelines on the sticky hallway floor outside the multipurpose room.
Chaplain Imam Samer Alraey explained that Muslims pray five times a day at specific times in order to “to take a break everyday to acknowledge our soul.”
The first prayer of the day is to happen at dawn, just about an hour and a half before the sunrise, explained the Imam, joking that it’s “not to be done just whenever you wake up.”
The next prayer is at noon, when the Sun is in the Zenith of the sky, the third occurs in midafternoon, the fourth just after sunset, and, “Last prayer supposed to be when the brightness disappears completely in the sky.”
After the prayer, when Alraey spoke to the small crowd that was gathered in the room, he spoke most of charity, positing that it is implicit upon us as human beings to have charity for all.
“If you can’t give from your pocket, give a nice smile,” he said. ”That is the act of charity. To do that it is better to give money to someone and brag about it.”
He also spoke of thankfulness, looking around the room and thanking all those who participated in the event, including the security guards who monitored the event and the caterers and cooks who provided the food.
He noted that sometimes it’s easy to forget how hard it is to do work in hot kitchens for college students such as those
who were in attendance.
He encouraged the Muslims in the audience to strive for outreach to the non-Muslim community. “You are here; you have the family of Baruch. Share with them your human aspect.”
During the event, Alraey issued a challenge to the audience, showing them the calligraphy above and offering a $25 American Express gift card to anyone who can decipher it.
In the spirit of cultural awareness, The Ticker now extends this challenge to the rest of the student body.
If any student is able to understand the meaning of this calligraphy, they have until next Friday to visit the Chaplain’ office in room 3-217 of the VC where they can receive their reward.
If anyone is able to accomplish this decryption, the winner will be announced in the next issue of The Ticker.