The newly approved and recognized group at the College, the Muslim Student Association, hosted Islam Awareness Week during the week of March 21-24, 2011. The Muslim Student Association hosted a variety of campus-wide events, including guest speakers and special fundraising activities, which all seemed to complement well the new association’s motto and mission of “Bridging the Gap.”
The keynote speaker on Monday, March 21, 2011 was Mr. Owais Bayunus, presenting Interfaith Dialog. Bayunus has participated in numerous interfaith dialogs and has delivered speeches at Churches, synagogues, mosques, universities, colleges, and many other for profit and non-profit organizations. He is the past president and the chairman of the Council of Trustees at Islamic Center of Minnesota.
“We are very fortunate to have him as the keynote speaker,” said Muslim Student Association advisor and Chief Information Officer at Saint Paul College, Najam Saeed. “Mr. Bayunus is a nationally known Islamic scholar and speaker who has worked tirelessly for the last 15 years to establish a dialog among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He has vast knowledge and understanding of Islam and other major religions of the world.”
On Tuesday, the focus was on honoring women in Islam. Members of the Muslim Student Association offered students free hijabs (traditional head coverings) to wear and take home. Also, as a fundraiser, decorative henna tattoos were being given for $5.00 per tattoo.
Students and faculty gathered in the theatre on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, to hear Imam Sh.Neelain’s presentation of Understanding Islam. “Sh. Neelain Muhammad works closely with the youth with special emphasis on teachings of Islam and elimination of violence,” Saeed noted. Sh. Neelain Muhammad converted to Islam some 30 years ago and has been involved with Islam related activities ever since. Imam Sh.Neelain, at one time was the bodyguard of Muhammad Ali and a former lieutenant to the Nation of Islam, he now works as the assistant imam and youth advisor at the Minnesota Da’wah Institute.
“I’m very happy that we have a Muslim Student Association at Saint Paul College. We are building a foundation for future Muslim and non-Muslim students to have fellowship. We are here to bridge the gap so people have a forward and correct understanding of Islam,” said Raees Romero, Muslim Student Association member and event coordinator.
The final event of the week was celebrated with a fun game of Islamic Jeopardy in the 4th Floor Commons area. Free food and beverages for everyone were supplied and Jeopardy winners received prizes. So in sharing in fun and fellowship of food, the gap was bridged successfully during the inaugural celebration of “Islam Awareness Week” at Saint Paul College.