CAIRO - Racing to feed hungry and poor fellow Americans, a Muslim student association has hosted an event to feed the homeless, hoping to work as ambassadors of true Islam in West Virginia.
"We were like What can we do to help our community'?" Shaheed Elhamdani, vice president of Marshall University's Muslim Student Association (MSA), told The Parthenon on Thursday, January 19.
"We are all-American Muslims and we want to help out in our American community," the sophomore chemistry and political science major from Barboursville, West Virginia, added.
Cooperating with the Muslim Association of Huntington (MAH), the MSA held its event at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church on 513 10th St. in Huntington.
It came as an idea in the women's youth group of MAH and grew into an inspiration people acted upon, Elhamdani said.
The female students from the women's youth group; namely Deana Nusair, Amani Zeid, Nihale-Shazley, Sawsan Falaman and Hala Giblawi, were in charge of gathering donations for the event.
They were also responsible for making food preparations for the event.
The event was attended by approximately 100 homeless persons where members from the Muslim Youth of Huntington, MAH and MSA including, Elhamdani and President Ammar Haffer, volunteered.
"The biggest thing I was happy to hear about was we seemed to have an active youth group," Elhamdani said.
"And it's inspiring me in a sense that even though I'm not a part of the women's youth group, obviously, I felt really proud that our community was willing to contribute to the Huntington community.
It made me feel like I wanted to do something to help out."
Elhamdani said the volunteers received positive feedback from the homeless.
Facing growing misconceptions about the American Muslim community, MSA students hope their charitable activities would reflect the true nature of Islam.
"You see a lot of this negative media coverage concerning Muslims," Elhamdani said.
"It's our job as ambassadors I would say to our religion to show people who we really are and what we really consist of."
Organizing charity events, Elhamdani said a major part of the Islamic faith incorporates charity and tendency to help the poor and the needy.
Comprised of 20 students, some of them from the Learning English for Academic Purposes program, the MSA activities focus on helping students cope with college and let the general population know who they are.
MSA desires to perform more outreaches, whether it is feeding the homeless or Habitat for Humanity.
MSA organizes an awareness week each year in April so people can understand the religion of Islam.
Another panel is planned by MSA to discuss Islam and Shari`ah or Islamic law.
US Muslims, estimated at between six to eight million, have been sensing a growing hostility following a hearing presented by Republican representative Peter King on what he described as radicalization of US Muslims.
A recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.