Muslim Student Open House offers a look at the culture of Islam

Rozina Kar, then- junior in microbiology, and Safae Bomkbir, member of the Islamic Center, put henna on the hands of Sophia Leonard, then-junior in microbiology, and her sister, Natalie Leonard, then-freshman in open option, at the Islamic Center open house on Nov. 11, 2017. (Regan Tokos | Collegian Media Group)

“Please place your shoes on the shelves,” read the sign on the door, greeting visitors to the Muslim Student Open House.

The Islamic Center of Manhattan partnered with Kansas State’s Muslim Student Association to put on the Muslim Student Open House. On Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the center opened its doors to students and community members for a day of informative fun.

Once visitors removed their shoes, they were invited inside to watch a brief video explaining the use of the Arabic word “Allah.” Following this, they were free to explore both of the building’s floors.

Upstairs, participants had the opportunity to view various boards explaining the five pillars of Islam. A speaker accompanied each board to answer questions following their presentations.

One of the presenters was Mohammad Khan, junior in biology, who also spoke at KSUnite last Wednesday.

“We are not dangerous,” Khan said. “Even at Kansas State, I get weird looks if I’m out in my own traditional clothing, and that’s fine because I’m used to it, but the only thing I would like for people to know about Islam is that it’s humanity.

“It’s really kind. … You’re not a Muslim if you’re not humane to people. … Don’t listen to the media, or the president,” he continued. “Go out, meet with Muslims, study the religion, read novels. … Go and experience it, don’t take anyone’s word for it.”

Khan said he took part in both events to clear up misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam.

“There’s a lot of negativity about Islam, and we all face it … so we have to be the ambassadors,” he said.

Attendees who visited the lower level saw a few more presentations focused on women in Islam. Female visitors were invited to try on hijabs. There was a booth for receiving henna tattoos and a booth for learning to write in Arabic.

Deanna Durler, junior in human resource management, used the open house to do research for a class project.

“I’m in a class called Diversity in the Workplace, and we’re doing a year-long project where we study another culture we don’t really know anything about,” Durler said. “So, I decided to learn about Muslim culture, because I know absolutely nothing. I heard about this event, and I was like, ‘Hey, this is perfect.’ The information booths have been really helpful in teaching me about hijabs — trying it on was really fun —and learning about the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed.”

“The people are really nice,” Durler said. “Everyone I’ve met has been super nice. You should definitely go out and meet people who practice Islam and not just learn about it from the media.”

As they finished their walk through the building, attendees were invited to try traditional Middle Eastern food in a buffet-style line. Some of the samples included manakeesh, known in the West as Arabic pizza, Arabic coffee and baklava pastries.

On their way out, each guest received a bag containing a copy of the Quran, pamphlets explaining various aspects of Islam and a commemorative mug.

The Islamic Center of Manhattan is always open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike to answer any questions related to Islam.