On a sunny Saturday, the Islamic Center of East Lansing, in collaboration with the Peace Quest of Greater Lansing, welcomed people from all walks of life to the second annual Salaam Peace Festival. This vibrant event was not only a celebration of Muslim culture and traditions but also an opportunity for the community to come together, learn, and foster understanding among diverse backgrounds.
Exploring Muslim Culture
The Salaam Peace Festival showcased a rich tapestry of events, from crafts and souvenirs to insightful presentations on Islam. The event aimed to create a sense of familiarity with the Arabic greeting “salaam” (peace) and Muslims. Event spokesperson Areesha Shah emphasized the importance of educating people about the diverse cultures within the Muslim world.
Unity in Diversity
One of the festival’s highlights was the country exhibits, where visitors could explore the vast diversity within the Muslim community. At these exhibits, attendees had the chance to experience the unique cultures, traditions, and practices of different countries. For instance, Mujahid Sayal, representing India, shared Indian apparel, cuisine, and insights into how Islam is practiced in his homeland. The overarching message was clear: Muslims around the world are united by their faith, yet each region adds its own vibrant colors to the tapestry of Islamic culture.
The festival also had a meaningful impact beyond cultural exchange. The Refugee Development Center (RDC) raised awareness about the plight of Muslim refugees worldwide and called for volunteers. Their mission was to provide formal and informal learning opportunities, engagement, and support to refugees. A notable aspect was the festival’s commitment, with 50% of profits donated to the RDC, highlighting the community’s dedication to helping those in need.
Community and Camaraderie
The Salaam Peace Festival wasn’t just about showcasing culture and supporting refugees; it was a day of coming together. Community members, like Nisar Hassan, praised the relaxed and inclusive atmosphere. Families enjoyed visiting exhibits, reconnecting with old friends, and indulging in delicious Halal food provided by local restaurants. The festival created a space where people could embrace diversity and accept one another without judgment.
Abdullah Al-Ejel, the president of the Muslim Student Association at MSU, highlighted the importance of events like this in dispelling stereotypes about Muslims. He emphasized that Muslims come from various backgrounds and that organizations like the Muslim Student Association provide opportunities for anyone, regardless of their faith, to learn and engage in meaningful discussions about Islam. The hope is to break the stigma that Muslims are a “closed group” and foster open-mindedness within the community.
Tradition of Unity
As the second annual Salaam Peace Festival came to a close, Areesha Shah and others expressed their hopes that this tradition would continue to flourish. The festival’s ability to bring the community closer together and build bridges of friendship was evident throughout the day. It served as a reminder that in East Lansing, and indeed the world, unity and diversity can coexist harmoniously.
The Salaam Peace Festival in East Lansing was more than just an event; it was a celebration of unity amidst diversity, an opportunity to learn about Muslim culture, and a chance to support those in need. As this tradition grows, it continues to break down barriers, foster understanding, and promote peace among all members of the community.