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Penn. Muslim Students Build Bridges with Pizza

Penn. Muslim Students Build Bridges with Pizza

 “The fastest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.” The Muslim Students’ Association has applied this principle to a project of its own

PENNSYLVANIA – Muslim students at the Pennsylvania State University are changing misconceptions about their faith as they reach out to their colleagues through one pizza slice at a time.

“We’re glad that we have this outlet to express our intentions,” Daniel Lavelle, coordinator of the free pizza event, told The Collegian on Monday, September 10.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to grow in our own faith as Muslims and take on that generous attitude we are taught to have.”

Over the past three and a half years, members of the Muslim Students’ Association have been offering free pizza in front of the Forum building on the first Friday of every month in hopes of changing misconceptions about Islam.

The last event was held on Friday, Sept. 7, at the Forum building.

For these students, the pizza was chosen not only as a convenient dish but also as a familiar one.

“We chose a dish that is a common denominator between us and the many others that call America home,” Lavelle (sophomore – biobehavioral health) said.

“As Muslims, [we] are people just like you in many ways and enjoy a fresh slice of pizza just as much as the next person.”

Though students did not engage in conversation with their Muslim colleagues, Lavelle believes that the momentary interaction of offering food to someone makes a difference.

“Often times, people are happy to stay for a few seconds to ask more about the mission,” Lavelle said.

“But at the very least, when we have given a slice and shared a smile, there’s definitely a feeling that we have made an impact, even if it is as simple as that.”

Support

Stopping to take a slice of pizza, Kennedy Miller expressed support of the group’s actions. Yet, he was disappointed an initiative like the pizza pass-out still has to exist today.

“I feel like it shouldn’t be necessary,” Kennedy Miller (sophomore-biochemistry) said.

“There shouldn’t have to be a reason to prove that you are just like everyone else.”

Those involved in the MSA pizza handout realized the importance of making an effort to change perspectives.

“Ignorance has led to violence and ultimately loss of lives as we can see in numerous examples throughout the United States,” Yousef Hussain (junior-biology) said.

“Like the 2015 Chapel Hill shooting that killed three innocent Muslims,” or the 2016 killing of an Imam — a person who leads prayer in a mosque — in Queens, New York, Hussain added.

Hussain hopes the MSA’s educational initiative would continue to inspire others and change misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.

“Giving out free pizza is a wonderful way to break those barriers that exist between non-Muslims and Muslims, but we must take education a step further,” Hussain said.

“This will help the local beneficiaries in our community and… will spread the positive reality that is Islam.”


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