Tampa-The Muslim Student Association is an organization at USF who’s purpose is to spread knowledge of what Islam is and what Muslims believe. They host a variety of events on campus to educate others about the basics of Islam and how Muslims live.
Roshdyna Ahmad, vice president of the Muslim Students’ Association said, “We want to show others that despite the various claims that the media makes against Muslims and Islam, at the end of the day we are normal people, normal students just like everyone else, who has our own religious beliefs.”
Last month, Pastor Terry Jones held a mock trial in Florida that lead to a burning of the Quran. The incident recieved little attention in the press until a United Nations compound in northern Afghanistan was atttacked by an angry mob of people who were protesting the burning of the Quran. As a result, seven United Nation employees were killed and their office was destroyed.
“The idea of the Quran burning perhaps stemmed from the ignorance of what Muslims stand for, what Islam is, or what the Quran preaches,” said Ahmad. “For me, it was a huge hate crime against us, although it wasn’t intended to hurt any lives, it hurt many hearts.”
Ahmad said that she disagrees with the manner in which the riots were done and that she believes “there is a peaceful solution to every problem.” Because the people that participated in the riot were so emotionally effected by the Quran burning, their pain turned into anger.
“I believe that the American public should open themselves to learning and knowledge about what Islam is and who Muslims are,” said Ahmad. “Most of the hate crimes and discrimination come from ignorance of this or the unwillingness to accept that we are part of the common American.”
The MSA’s goal is to educate the students and faculty at USF about their religion and create a more positive image of Muslims in America. Because of the Quran burning, Americans have developed a negative image in the foreign press. Ahmad hopes this will inspire people in the USF community to “start a movement” and open up university lectures halls for speeches, such as “what is the Quran?”
The MSA’s largest event of the year is the “Fast-A-Thon.” Ahmad said that other students can try and fast for a day and even break their fast in an effort to collect money for the needy. The Fast-A-Thon also creates awareness about Ramadan, which is a month where Muslims fast from dusk to dawn.
“These events help us spread knowledge about Islam, to show what we believe in, and to make us approachable throughout campus,” said Ahmad. “We believe that ignorance is what causes fear and separation in society and these events help us bridge that gap for understanding to flourish in the American society.”