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Islamic culture fostered by student group

Gabriela Malespin | Monday, December 9, 2013

 As part of the ongoing effort to promote and understand diversity at Notre Dame, the Muslim Student Association has successfully incorporated an interfaith dialogue between Muslim students and the University to spread awareness of Islamic culture and religion.

The MSA boasts approximately 30 members of both graduate and undergraduate. Club vice president Itrat Bin Shams, an electrical engineering graduate student at Notre Dame, said the MSA uses annual events to promote Islamic culture around campus.

Bin Shams said the EID festival (Eid al-Fitr), which means the Feast of Breaking Fast, takes place every year to commemorate the end of Ramadan.

“We invite people from all around campus and give a presentation of what EID is, as well as information on the MSA.” Bin Shams said. “We also take part in the ‘Prayer from around the world,’ a series organized by campus ministry, where people from all religions show their practices and how they pray.”

The MSA is also hosting an upcoming seminar titled “Syria: Why it matters” and a Fast-a-thon, an event organized over the summer where attendees were requested to skip a meal and donate proceeds to Fighting Hunger in Africa.   

Bin Shams said the club works hard to create community between Muslim students by hosting smaller events.

“We have several students who came from Turkey or Pakistan. The Muslim Student Association provides a very nice umbrella for them. We try to bring them together, for example, we pray together, we share our thoughts together, etc.” Bin Sham said. “Our mission is not only to provide facilities and bring Muslim students together but also to breach a network together between all students at the University.”

Next semester, the club is hosting Islam awareness week. Bin Shams said the weeklong program will include a number of seminars, dinners and speakers from outside camps.

Bin Shams said despite the majority of Notre Dame students belonging to a Christian background, the MSA’s impact on campus has been noticeable.

“I truly believe the impact we have had on campus is huge,” Bin Shams said.

Sara Abdel Rahim, a freshman biology major and an active member in the Muslim Student Association, said she believes the club has built a strong foundation that will allow its influence to continue to grow in coming years.

“I’m very proud that we have a club like this on campus because I do appreciate the fact that we can practice our faith in a University that is predominantly catholic,” Abdel Rahim said.

Contact Gabriela Malespin at [email protected].