Muslim Student Association To Host Event On Terrorism and Islam

The Muslim Student Association wants to set the record straight about Islam and its position on terrorism. The group will host an event called Islam, Jihad and Terrorism on Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. in the BTC auditorium.

“We want people to know that Islam preaches peace and compassion. A lot of people don’t realize that,” said MSA President Saad Tai.

The event will include a talk by Arabic professor and MSA advisor Sohaib Chekima about the definitions of the words “jihad” and “terrorism” and how they relate to Islam.

“We don’t want people to base their information on whatever they hear in the media,” said Chekima.

Passages from the Quran will be included in the lecture to highlight some of the principles of the religion.

Khaleda Sarej, MSA vice president, said, “We want people to know what the word jihad really means.”

Chekima explained that the word jihad literally means “struggle” in Arabic and that the term “holy war“ is never mentioned in the Quran.

Tai also emphasized this. “Many people think it’s about holy war, [but] it’s about struggle in the name of God. The struggle to improve yourself and improve the community,” he said.

“[We want to] help people be aware of what Islam really is and what its position is on terrorism,” said Sarej.

A Pew poll from September found a rising number of Americans are “extremely concerned” about Islamic extremism around the world and in the United States. The advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria has made the topic of discussion very timely.

“People don’t know anything about the religion, everything they hear is on TV. It gives them an opposite and totally negative picture. There is a huge Muslim population in the US so it puts a lot of people down,” said Sarej.

A question and answer session will follow Chekima’s talk, and dinner will be served. It is the first of multiple events that the MSA has planned for this semester. They will also have a “Hijab Day” in November, where women will have the chance to try on a headscarf worn by Muslim women.

The MSA is also currently planning an interfaith dinner with Christian clubs on campus.

Azmad Din, secretary of the MSA, said, “The main purpose of the club is to have people know the basics of Islam. We want to spread awareness and have our club do fun activities.”

The MSA has not been active for the past two years. “Back in 2002 we were actually the most active club on campus,” Chekima said. He was a student at Hudson Valley in 2002 and president of the MSA at the time. In the year following 9/11, the MSA held events to spread awareness.

Besides working at Hudson Valley, Chekima also currently teaches and advises the MSAs at Union and SUNY Albany. The MSA branches from around the Capital Region plan on having events together throughout the school year.

Tai, Sarej, Din, and Chekima, along with their 15-20 club members, hope to revive the club this year.

“We were pretty much dead for the past few years, and now that we are up and running we want to show everyone what Islam really means,” said Tai.


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