Muslim Student Association event aims to increase understanding

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Muslim Student Association event aims to increase understanding

Amal Younis

Amal Younis

Amal Younis

by Amal Younis, Contributor

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April is Islam Awareness Month at San Diego State.

It’s the first time the Muslim Student Association has hosted a month-long event — in the past, it has been a week.

Every week of this year’s event has featured a different theme. “Peace and spirituality” was the topic for the third week.

SDSU MSA President Ahmed Buzeribn discussed Ramadan, the month of fasting, at a “Fast-a-thon” event on Tuesday, April 18.

Muslims observing Ramadan refrain from food and drink during daylight hours for the entire month.

“It is more of a spiritual idea for us, where we are starving our minds as well,” Buzeribn said. “We are refraining from bad habits — such as cussing — that are not good for people. We refrain until we are able to break our fast.”

Information systems senior Jibreel Kabeo, who has been a member of the MSA since his freshman year, said the association’s main purpose is to spread awareness about Muslims and Islam.

“We are living in a tumultuous time right now,” he said.  “So we’re trying to help spread a positive image.”

Kabeo said he wants people to see Muslims as they are, rather than relying on negative stereotypes.

Many non-Muslims who wanted to learn more about the faith were also present, something Buzeribn said the MSA welcomes.

“The best way (to learn) is coming to an event and talking to people who are a part of the organization,” Buzeribn said. “We always have tables at our events with our banner on it with an email list.”

Two non-Muslim attendees, kinesiology major Annemarie Allen and mechanical engineering major Gardenia Valenzuela, said the Islam Awareness Month events have helped them gain a better understanding of the religion.

“It shines a light on the truth (of) what Islam is really about, rather than misconceptions people might hear,” Allen said.

Tuesday’s event also included a panel of three Islamic converts.

SDSU students Tessa Wiley and Freddie Gonzalez and Grossmont College student Mayte Gutierrez spoke on how they first learned about Islam, their experiences since converting and their families’ reactions.

Gutierrez said his journey to Islam was one of “naïvete and ignorance.”

“We are human beings,” he said. “We all commit sin, and we are not perfect. God is the only one who can judge us all.”

Wiley said converting to Islam has given her a better feeling of identity.

“Islam has a strong community, a strong set of ideals and guidelines that give people a sense of meaning in life,” she said.

Gonzalez said his mother was extremely supportive of his decision to become a member of the Muslim faith.

“She didn’t really see me as anything different,” he said.

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