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Credit: Lulu Wang , , ,

In a year marked by Islamophobia nationally and locally, the Muslim Student Association spent the past week spreading awareness of their faith. 

On Monday, members of the MSA kicked off their annual Islamic Discovery Series at Penn.

This year the first event, a “pop-up” on Locust Walk where you could “meet a Muslim” was especially meaningful. 

College and Wharton sophomore Armghan Ahmad said that even enlightening the minds of a few people would make this event meaningful. 

“It’s humanizing for the people who haven’t had Muslim friends,” Ahmad said.

Students took turns working the Meet a Muslim event on Locust. The goal of the event was to show that Muslims are just regular people and are more than just a stereotype.

“It’s all about awareness,” said Engineering sophomore Lamis Elsawah. “I might be the only Muslim they ever get to meet.”

MSA members said they had a positive experience with the event, which engaged the rest of the Penn community with Islam. 

“It lifted my mood to see that there are people who aren’t afraid to approach us," College junior Fahima Rashid said.  

On Thursday the MSA hosted a “food lounge” event highlighting food from various cultures in order to represent the diversity of the Muslim community. They decorated the Bodek Lounge in Houston Hall with various traditional garments and quotes from the Quran and played music.

“People come from all around the world and bring their own cultures into the community,” MSA President and College senior Adel Qalieh said.

In Muslim culture every Friday there are congregational prayers called Jummah. At 1 p.m. on Friday the MSA board members and others set out mats on College Green to hold a large prayer session.

“People know that we pray five times a day but they don’t know what it actually encompasses,” Elaswah said. “This is a way for them to see what we actually do.”

Later in the evening the MSA hosted their last event of the week: "Hitting pause: What is the meaning of life?"

Guest speaker Shaykh Noman Hussain, an imam and resident scholar at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee West, talked about living a personal life. At the end of the event, he opened the floor up for questions about purpose and Islam.

"A lot of people came out from different ethnicities and different religions, which shows there is a community here at Penn," Rashid said.

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