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Muslim Students’ Association conference focuses on unity, equality

Mohamed Abutaleb, a teacher at the Oak Tree Institute of Islamic education, speaks at a Muslim Students' Association conference Jan. 18 at the Ohio Union.<br />Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Mohamed Abutaleb, a teacher at the Oak Tree Institute of Islamic education, speaks at a Muslim Students’ Association conference Jan. 18 at the Ohio Union.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Despite their schools’ well-known football rivalry, the Muslim Students’ Associations from Ohio State and the University of Michigan united over the weekend in the name of religion.

A weekend-long conference called “In the Words the Prophet: The Last Sermon” brought families and students together to learn about who Muslims consider the last prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and his final sermon before his death. That sermon focused largely on messages of unity and equality.

MSA President Abdulrahman Alwattar, a third-year in public affairs, said the event was initially planned at Michigan early last May.

“We decided we wanted to work with other MSAs in the area in order to build some networks and collaborations and make these events bigger and beneficial for a wide variety of people,” Alwattar said.

Alwattar said the money for the event was mostly made from donations.

“There was a committee made that would just focus on the budget, advertising and raising money. We were able to raise $8,500 for this event in donations that really made this event possible,” Alwattar said.

Tickets for the event cost $15 for a single person one day pass, according to the event website.

The conference featured three speakers from different parts of the U.S. Self-help author Yasmin Mogahed gave one of the keynote speeches.

“The Prophet Muhammad was sent as the most beautiful example, and he is also described as a mercy to all of mankind and therefore, we have to study his example, and what more important way to study him than through his last advice,” Mogahed said.

The event also featured Siraj Wahhaj, who is the imam, or person who leads prayers, of the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in New York City and Mohamed Abutaleb, a teacher at the Oak Tree Institute of Islamic education.

One of Mogahed’s lectures focused on treating men and women fairly, a topic discussed in Muhammad’s sermon.

“It’s important to understand the criteria of what does it mean to be a woman and what does it mean to be a man and how should we be treating one another,” Mogahed said.

Kareem Hakim, Michigan’s MSA vice president, said it was an honor to be able to help plan the conference.

“I hosted a couple of friends for the Ohio (State)-Michigan game from (Ohio) and while I wasn’t happy (about) their fanhood, I was happy to have them, so I think religion has been a unifying factor,” said Hakim, a third-year in English and psychology.

The event drew students and families from places including Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

“I just moved to the Midwest from California, and I have watched lectures about Yasmin Mogahed and Siraj Wahhaj in the past, and when I found out they were actually here, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to come,” said Adrienne Wilson, a Michigan health and behavior and health education graduate student.

Wilson said she converted to Islam a few years ago and said having the opportunity to go to conferences helps re-enforce her faith.

“I am very interested in increasing my application in what have I learned,” Wilson said.

One comment

  1. Jazzakum Allah khairan. It was a great effort and very well organized. A big thanks to the speakers it was GREAT

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