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Faith Inspires: Muslim Student Association At UNC Asheville

26 March 2012 Huffington Post 28 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Faith Inspires: Muslim Student Association At UNC Asheville

Editor’s note: Every week, HuffPost Religion shines a spotlight on religious people doing good work in their communities. If you would like to recommend a faith-inspired organization, initiative or person in your community, send an email toreligion@huffingtonpost.com or tweet to@huffpostrelig using the hashtag #faithinspires.

This week’s Faith Inspires highlights the Muslim Student Association at the University of North Carolina – Asheville for its pioneering social justice and interfaith work in that mountain town.

When Amarra Ghani transferred to UNC-Asheville, there wasn’t exactly a vibrant Muslim community waiting with open arms. In fact, the Muslim student population was next to nonexistent. So in the fall of 2010 she decided to start a chapter. The first person to help her? Another new transfer, Maayan Schechter, who happens to be Jewish.

In August 2011, MSA hosted the first-ever official Iftar celebration on the UNC campus. Eighty people showed up to break the Ramadan fast. Not bad for a college community that counts somewhere between six and 10 Muslim students in its population. This turn out — and the ongoing collaborative events co-sponsored by MSA — speaks to the open-mindedness of Asheville’s students. Last week, the convivial spirit was pronounced. MSA co-hosted a Shabbat dinner at the campus Hillel, a Jewish community center, that included interfaith, Jewish and Muslim prayers. More than 60 participated.

MSA has collaborated with other faith-based and ethnic organizations on campus to raise money for humanitarian causes and educate students about religious diversity. The organization’s motivation is perhaps best summed up in the interfaith prayerused during the recent Shabbat dinner:

O God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is you who turns our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God,
Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.

Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these
truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love
Amen.

WATCH “Is Religion Relevant?” a UNC-Asheville interfaith dialogue: 

HuffPost Religion applauds the good works of the MSA at UNC Asheville. You can follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, we want to hear from you! Who’s making a positive impact in your community? Let us know by sending an e-mail to religion@huffingtonpost.com or tweeting to @huffpostrelig with the hashtag #faithinspires.

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28 Comments »

  1. As a Pagan I know about being a religious minority. It sucks. ~Meph

  2. As a Pagan I know about being a religious minority. It sucks. ~Meph

  3. So like this post.

  4. So like this post.

  5. this is how it should always be

  6. this is how it should always be

  7. Nice

  8. Nice

  9. This is how it should be, will repost.

  10. This is how it should be, will repost.

  11. Wonderful

  12. Wonderful

  13. little dinner get togethers to make friends and share our similarities all over the world will bring us together in peace. great news.

  14. little dinner get togethers to make friends and share our similarities all over the world will bring us together in peace. great news.

  15. Way to go Jewish Community!

  16. Way to go Jewish Community!

  17. “Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
    Empower all people to live in your law of love
    Amen.”

    sounds good to me. not sure it is consistant with islam though?

    5:12

    ولقد أخذ الله ميثاق بني إسرائيل وبعثنا منهم اثني عشر نقيبا وقال الله إني معكم لئن أقمتم الصلاة وآتيتم الزكاة وآمنتم برسلي وعزرتموهم وأقرضتم الله قرضا حسنا لأكفرن عنكم سيئاتكم ولأدخلنكم جنات تجري من تحتها الأنهار فمن كفر بعد ذلك منكم فقد ضل سواء السبيل

    And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And Allah said, “I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way.”

    5:13

    فبما نقضهم ميثاقهم لعناهم وجعلنا قلوبهم قاسية يحرفون الكلم عن مواضعه ونسوا حظّا مما ذكروا به ولا تزال تطلع على خائنة منهم إلا قليلا منهم فاعف عنهم واصفح إن الله يحب المحسنين

    So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.

    5:14

    ومن الذين قالوا إنا نصارى أخذنا ميثاقهم فنسوا حظّا مما ذكروا به فأغرينا بينهم العداوة والبغضاء إلى يوم القيامة وسوف ينبئهم الله بما كانوا يصنعون

    And from those who say, “We are Christians” We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded. So We caused among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. And Allah is going to inform them about what they used to do.

  18. tolerence and understanding is the way of the future and the model of exclusion and hate belongs in the past. I am hoping for the day when a story like this is no longer news for being a rarity

  19. tolerence and understanding is the way of the future and the model of exclusion and hate belongs in the past. I am hoping for the day when a story like this is no longer news for being a rarity

  20. Fortunately, US Muslims are very good ambassadors for their communities. Unlike in parts of Europe.

  21. The enemy of my enemy? ;) This reminds me of a lovely line from Don’t Mess With the Zohan.

    Palestinian: People hate us. They think we’re terrorists.
    Israeli: People hate us, too. They think we’re you.

  22. children of Abraham, political difference should remain outside the realm, I worship one God, not borders, officials, government issues.

  23. Yea, and unfortunately the MSA is a Muslim Brotherhood organization and a threat to the United States. The MSA should be banned.

  24. Yaaaaay Asheville! REPRESENT! ;)

  25. Yaaaaay Asheville! REPRESENT! ;)

  26. Yaaaaay Asheville! REPRESENT! ;)

  27. test

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