Saturday, May 18, 2024

Salaam Peace Festival connects Muslim community in East Lansing

October 1, 2023
<p>Inside the exhibits section of the Salaam Peace Festival hosted by the Islamic Center of East Lansing on Sept. 30, 2023. In the exhibits section, organizations are able to promote themselves and gather more people.</p>

Inside the exhibits section of the Salaam Peace Festival hosted by the Islamic Center of East Lansing on Sept. 30, 2023. In the exhibits section, organizations are able to promote themselves and gather more people.

On Saturday, the Islamic Center of East Lansing hosted the Salaam Peace Festival as a way to express awareness for Muslims around the world. 

Partnered with the Peace Quest of Greater Lansing, the festival featured an array of events like crafts, souvenirs, Islam presentations and much more. 

This festival, which welcomed all, encouraged community members to take the chance and learn about Muslim culture and Islamic practices through people, food and ethnic exhibits.   

"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. “We want to create a sense of familiarity to salaam and Muslims and help further our basic virtue of peace.”

The event also hosted country exhibits, which allowed visitors to roam to different tables to get the chance to see the Muslim diversity in each country.

Mujahid Sayal, who ran a table about his home country of India, welcomed visitors to view Islamic Indian apparel, taste Indian food and teach what Islam means to India. 

“Our main goal is to show the unity and diversity of Muslims across the world,” Sayal said. “The Muslim population is spread out around most of the world, and most of those countries have their own cultures and traditions.”

Another table amidst the country exhibits was the Refugee Development Center. With millions of Muslim refugees around the world, this table called for volunteers and brought awareness to refugees that need support. 

The RDC aims to collaborate with refugees by providing them formal and informal learning opportunities, engagement and support. 50% of the profit that was made at the Salaam Peace Festival was donated to this cause. 

“The camaraderie is amazing here,” community member Nisar Hassan said. “I love the feeling that everyone comes together with an open mind. You meet new people from the community, you see old friends, and you get the chance to accept other people for who they are.” 

Hassan called the event a “relaxed environment”, as he spent the day with his son visiting various exhibits, talking to old friends and enjoying food.

In the parking lot, large tents were set up to provide a shaded space for everyone to eat, as local restaurants from the Lansing area provided Halal food for the community. There were also stands for face-paintings, arts and crafts and souvenirs which were for sale. 

“This event helps connect the Lansing community with each other, and gives the Islamic Center of East Lansing the opportunity to show themselves who and what they are," finance junior Abdullah Al-Ejel said. “It shows people that all these backgrounds are here, and it shows us that anybody can be Muslim.” 

Al-Ejel is also the president of the Muslim Student Association at MSU. 

“The Muslim Student Association is a group for anybody who's interested in Islam, Muslim or non-Muslim,” Al-Ejel said. “We have game nights and events where we speak on Islamic topics … It’s super fun and we learn a lot.” 

Al-Ejel hopes events like this can break the stereotype of all Muslims being strictly Middle Eastern. He said people need to break the “stigma” that Muslims are a "closed group of people."

With this event being the second annual Peace Festival, Shah and many others hope that this new tradition will continue to return every year. 

“We hope events like this will bring the community closer together and allow people to build bridges of friendship," Shah said. 

Discussion

Share and discuss “Salaam Peace Festival connects Muslim community in East Lansing ” on social media.