TEMPE, Arizona – Muslim students at Arizona state university invite their colleagues from diverse backgrounds twice a month to their local Islamic center, sharing a cup of tea and a conversation, State Press reports on January 15.
“We’ve had a lot of different people from different faiths drop by a few times, just because they like the conversation and the environment,” said Nadia Muraweh, the association’s social director and a student of global health at ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Hosted by the Islamic Community Center of Tempe (ICC) in Arizona and the Muslim Student Association of Arizona State University (ASU), the “Chai Chats” help the community connect with the surrounding student body.
Although the chats emphasize Islamic faith, participants can address anything from relationships to finding purpose. Participants in the chat usually sit on the floor on a rug and get snacks, which helps keep the chats from feeling too formal.
In an elaboration on this, Muraweh explains that “the main goal of the chai chat is just for us to be really open and have those open discussions. We don’t want to make it feel like things are too taboo to be talked about. We want others to be able to be comfortable sharing.”
Mario Garcia, a local artist and community member of ICC further said: “the discussions, which are led by ICC’s Imam Omar Tawil, can appeal to people from any background because the topics discussed are universal.”
“We’ve had so many people from other religious communities or non-religious people. It’s a good environment for discussion, not just on Islam, but on humanity. It’s really impacting me in that sense to see how progressive people are,” he continued.
Marium Eldessouki, a volunteer for the association who graduated from ASU in 2018 with a degree in exercise and wellness, expressed that “having the discussions open for people to contribute freely allows the chats to help participants grow in a multitude of ways.”
Both the organizers and the participants believe these chai chats are inspiring because they show that people from diverse backgrounds can interact and grow together.
Arizona State University is a public metropolitan research university on four campuses across the Phoenix metropolitan area, and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona.
Chai Chats is not the first interfaith event to be hosted by Arizona Muslim students.
Last year, Islamic centers in Tempe, Arizona have organized several interfaith love events to bring people closer to Muslims in the wake of two women posting a video of themselves and their children insulting Islam.
The Muslim Students’ Association at ASU and the Islamic Community Center of Tempe also held an interfaith “Love and Coffee” event inviting non-Muslims into the mosque and helping to educate them about the Islamic faith.