Mar 042008
Authors: Laurel Berch, Marjorie Hamburger

About 500 students, professors, and Fort Collins community members gathered in the Lory Student Center Tuesday night for the 17th annual Islam Awareness Dinner.

The night included an informational speaker, free Middle Eastern food, and an Arab American Muslim comedian.

MSA President Zaki Safar said the dinner was part of MSA’s mission to shrink the gap between Islamic and non-Islamic people and to dispel myths and stereotypes about the faith that one-fifth of humanity adheres to through education.

Guest speaker and converted Muslim Chantal Carnes gave a presentation on Islam and its place in the American culture. She explained to the audience the five pillars of Islam, one of which is prayer.

Prayer is mentioned more in the Qur’an than any other word, Carnes said, adding that there are two forms of prayer. One is the individual prayer, which is an internal process.

The second is the collective prayer, done in groups, promoting social participation helps build society.

Carnes also talked about the Hadeeth, an important literature from the Islamic faith based on the teachings of Muhammad. In it, Muhammad is to have said “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.”

Freshman international studies major Korbin Dimmick said Carnes’ presentation was “very insightful.” He added that her explanation of the Pillars of Islam showed the faith had a solid foundation and wasn’t “based on terrorism.”

Following a dinner of rice, hummus, meat kabobs and other traditional dishes, widely-acclaimed Muslim comedian Mo Amer entertained the crowd.

“The comedian was my favorite part,” Bedour Jasem, a sophomore accounting major, said. “It was awesome.”

Through humor, Amer addressed underlying stereotypes and brought them to light for the audience.

Safar’s personal goal was to help MSA host the largest event to date because he, along with other MSA officers, graduate in May.

“As humans, [he] hopes we can always come together and work for justice.” Safar said.

MSA Vice President Isra’a Belgasem was “amazed” at the turnout and how open-minded people were.

Planning for the event began in November.

Junior international studies major, Kaysha Riggs, said that out of the three consecutive years attending MSA events, this year was “the most well done.”

Staff writers Laurel Berch and Marjorie Hamburger can be reached at

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