By Nargis Hakim
Dearborn–March 28- Nearly 900 people came to watch two well-known Islamic American speakers at Wayne State Universityâ€™s Annual MSA Dinner.
Sheikh Khalid Yasin, executive director of the Islamic Teaching Institute, and the comedian Preacher Moss were the main attractions at WSUâ€™s Muslim Students Association 12th Annual Dinner last Friday.
Adnan Alhaider, program director of WSU-MSA, and a junior at WSU said, â€œForty people came to the dinner only because they saw Khalid Yasinâ€™s name. We put a table for him outside afterwards; people were asking questions until the end of the dinner. Preacher Moss is well-known too. Even the older generations said â€˜we liked Preacher Moss, he was amazing,â€™â€ Alhaider said.
Each year the MSA Dinner is held to motivate youth and showcase the yearly activities of WSUâ€™s MSA. President Hadil Katato, a senior at WSU, said the MSA â€œbrings community members and leaders affiliated with WSU together in a religious and social environment to highlight these successes.â€ It has members ranging from different communities, backgrounds and religions.
Both speakers addressed ineffective communication and skills as being a factor in misunderstanding Islam. Yasin said people need to realize this is a different world than it was centuries before. Yasin said, â€œWe have the best purest sources in the world, the way weâ€™re serving it, nobody wants it.â€
Moss agreed, saying we have to learn how to talk to people and give proper information. We need to learn from other religions to spread Islam. â€œBe competitive. Other religions – theyâ€™re committed. Sunday mornings theyâ€™re locked up. We donâ€™t even have infomercials,â€ Moss said.
Muslims lack influence in media. â€œIf you have influence, you can have it your own way â€“ thatâ€™s what Burger King says,â€ Yasin said.
Yasin said Americans are fortunate because we have freedom of speech. People are confused about their identity therefore, they are unable to defend it.
Yasin said, â€œI thank God everyday for being American. With my American passport I was about to visit 57 countries, 23 of those were major Muslim countries.â€
In his lecture, â€œFrom the Root to the Fruit,â€ Friday nightâ€™s theme, Yasin pitched the need for people to be pro-active members of society.
With iman, the root of a believer, they will get the essence of fruit, the outcome, Yasin said. He blames this issue on Muslims themselves and scholars who do not address important issues in our society at the Masjids, in sermons.
â€œHow will you make Islam relevant to yourself?â€ he asked.
Moss said people have misconceptions about Islam, but Muslims have to be tough or â€œthink blackâ€ Moss said. â€œItâ€™s hard when you first get into the deen,â€ he said. Moss encouraged people to be optimistic despite the circumstances. For example, â€œIf you smile at other people for no reason, youâ€™re a terrorist,â€ he said.
To spread dawah and resolve this issue, an online website, FreeQur`an.org, has distributed 10,000 copies of Qur`an monthly in 37 languages. The Qur`an has reached 300,000 to 400,000 people worldwide, in the past few years.
Many organizations helped sponsor the dinner, including Life for Relief and Development, a charity group. â€œWe just want to support the youth and college,â€ Alaa AbuRahmeh, administrative assistant of Life said.
Grad student Daniyal Mir at U of M – Dearborn, said the dinner still had room for improvement and needed to have a more mixed audience. Mir said that because itâ€™s an annual event, itâ€™s important to have renowned people talking about these serious issues. â€œDonâ€™t just get local pundits, get PhDâ€™s, they can get their point across well. Expand to other people as well.â€
Despite the criticism, Alhaider said this yearâ€™s MSA was one of the most successful dinners. â€œOur dinners have never sold out in the past 5-6 years and Alhamdulillah this year we sold out.â€ He said more people are interested in becoming involved in MSA as well.
Dr. Irshad Altheimer, MSA advisor and a criminal justice professor at WSU, said he hopes MSA will expand in activities and have greater outreach to the 1,000 Muslim students on campus and non-Muslims. â€œBrotherhood strengthens iman of brothers and sisters.â€ Alhaider added MSA can expand. â€œWe have four to five MSAâ€™s in two-three hours driving range and Iâ€™d like to come together,â€ he said.
University of Michigan â€“ Dearborn junior Salsabeel Tolba volunteered at the dinner. She plans to attend WSU for Grad School and decided to help out to be in touch with its MSA. â€œIt creates an Islamic environment in colleges which is the time you need it the most, Tolba said.
The MSA Dinner was held at Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, Mich.