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Muslim Student Association spreads awareness of Islamic heritage

By Petra HalburSpecial to the Chronicle Hofstra students have the privilege of access to a club on campus that provides them with the chance to practice, celebrate and learn more about Islam, even as Islamophobia, the hatred and fear of Muslims, continues to breed misinformation and conflict in the United States and in other countries. The Muslim Student Association, better known as MSA, meets every two weeks during Common Hour. It offers Muslim students the opportunity “to talk about Islam and its ideals and how we can apply it to our everyday lives,” said club President, Naela Hassan. MSA meetings regularly include an open discussion about whichever Islamic topic members wish to discuss. MSA members are also strongly encouraged to read the Quran and reflect on it themselves. According to Nazli Chaudhry, who has been the Muslim chaplain on campus since September 2011, individual study is an important practice in Islam. “The emphasis is really on personal responsibility and your personal connection with God,” she said. “In order to do that, you have to acquire that knowledge about Islam yourself…. At the end of the day the responsibility lies on you to have acquired the right tools to go through life in an ethical and moral way.” In addition to providing Muslim students on campus with the opportunity to discuss and practice their faith, MSA also works to dispel the many misconceptions circulating about Islam. “I would really be happy and [would] encourage non-Muslims to come to our meetings,” said Chaudhry. “There’s a lot of misinformation in the media about Muslims and Islam, and what it is and what it isn’t. So our focus each semester will be to provide information about Islam; to invite speakers and to hold events in which people have an opportunity to meet Muslims.” Already this semester, MSA has hosted an Eid dinner to celebrate the end of Ramadan (to which both Muslim and non-Muslim students were welcome). In November MSA will be hosting Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim author, activist and leader of worship. He will speak about his book, “Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America.” Such events work to correct some of the misperceptions many non-Muslim Americans have about Islam. “I really want Muslims to be the ones to talk abut their faith and not be defined by what’s in the media,” Chaudhry said.

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