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Penn Muslim Students Conclude Islamic Discovery Series

Penn Muslim Students Conclude Islamic Discovery Series
Photo from Zahraa Mohammed

PENNSYLVANIA – Muslim students in Pennsylvania University have concluded a successful annual Islamic Discovery Series (IDS) as part of their efforts to encourage inner reflections and increase awareness of Muslim culture and practices.

“The biggest thing that we try to get out of IDS is the idea that there is a lot of fear surrounding things you don’t know,” College senior and MSA President Zahraa Mohammed told The Daily Pennsylvanian.

“In order to overcome that fear, you have to get to know the people behind it. Then you’ll see a lot of similarities and a lot of understanding start to grow out of that.”

Hosted by the Penn Muslim Students Association, this week’s annual IDS culminated in a lecture from guest speaker Yasmin Mogahed, a renowned author and speaker in the Muslim community.

This year’s Islamic Discovery Series is part of MSA’s continued efforts to spread awareness of Islam and mutual understanding in the current political climate.

Over 100 students from universities around Philadelphia came to hear Mogahed’s lecture which focused on mental health and how it plays into spirituality and religion.

“In Eastern philosophies … your spiritual health is supposed to be your mental health. Those are two entirely different things, and one impacts the other; they are not one and the same,” Mohammed said.

The four biggest aspects of Mogahed’s spiritual first aid kit, the central message of her talk, were prayer, remembrance, connecting hearts to the Quran, and the emotional wellbeing of healing.

“If a person doesn’t pray, it’s like a person who doesn’t breathe,” Mogahed said, likening prayer to oxygen, or taking prescribed medication when one is sick. She also discussed the necessity as well as ease of practicing spirituality while living a worldly life.

“The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence,” Mogahed added.

At the end of the lecture, Mogahed sparked a lively discussion with engaging input from the audience.

“I thought she was incredibly knowledgeable about different topics in Islam that people are struggling with, and that I am personally struggling with,” College senior Methany Eltigani said.

“She had a really good way of relating complex topics to really simple examples, and that was very helpful in making us understand it.”

MSA kicked off the IDS week with two traditional events from previous years: the Meet a Muslim Booth and Cultural Lounge.

Started in 2015, the Meet a Muslim Booth took place on Monday to give Penn students the opportunity to ask questions and start a conversation with MSA members on Locust Walk.

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