The East Lansing Islamic Center hosted the Salaam Peace Festival Sunday as a way to bring together different Muslim countries' cultures through exhibits and food.
Partnered with the Peace Quest of Greater Lansing, the event gave community members the opportunity to learn and explore the culture of different countries that practice Islam.
"The idea is to bring community members for a day of festivity and to help educate people about the various different Muslim cultures around the world," event spokesperson Areesha Shah said. "And we welcome the Greater Lansing community to the Islamic center in an effort to spread peace by building bridges of friendship."
The event featured Islam 101 class sessions, country exhibits, henna and calligraphy stations inside the center, as well as food from Château Coffee Co., GoGi 2, Ozzy's Kabob, PappaRoti, Sparty's Kabob, Sultan's and Tabooli in the parking lot.
"I definitely think trying different foods is nice," animal science senior Rahma Ziad said. "I'm very much of a foodie, so getting to sample different cultures without having to actually leave my own neighborhood is really nice."
Ziad is a member of the Muslim Student Association at MSU which had been promoting the event to students.
"I've been having a lot of fun, being able to explore things about my religion that I already knew, but also seeing different cultures and how the same religion goes across different countries is very interesting," Ziad said.
MSU graduate Floyd Willis attended the event with Ziad and saw it as an opportunity to learn more about different cultures in the Islamic world.
"I'm still newer to learning Islam as it's been really interesting and fun," Willis said. "I've been learning about different Middle Eastern countries. Because generally, for the most part, I've only known maybe one or two. So it's good to like learn about representation and different artifacts and customs of different countries that also share the same religion and some aspects."
Volunteer Kerim Gulyuz ran a table about his home country, Turkey – a predominantly Muslim country. Gulyuz brought traditional Turkish plates, coffee sets and decorations for his table. He also saw this event as an opportunity to expose his children to these different Muslim cultures.
"I've been here for 20 years, my kids are born in the US. But I would like to also have them to know about our culture, as well as other cultures in the Islamic world," Gulyuz said.
The event had bouncy castles and face paint for young children, in addition to performances from students of the Greater Lansing Islamic School next door.
This is the first major event put on by the center since the pandemic, and Shah hopes they are able to hold more.
"We're grateful for the church for letting us use their parking spots and we hope these events foster better ties and greater community harmony," Shah said.
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