The Logan Islamic Center is opening up their doors and welcoming locals to get to know the basics of Islam with a new monthly event called “Let’s Talk.”
Though the first event, held Feb. 13, coincided with news coverage of the executive order banning travel from several muslim-majority countries, event organizers said it was unrelated.
“This has nothing to do with the current sociopolitical situation we have here in the U.S.,” said Andreas Febrian, president of the Logan Islamic Center committee. “I personally don’t care about that. A lot of people have concern, but life will go on, and God has a plan. So why worry?”
According to Febrian, the problem the center hopes to address isn’t a hostile community, it’s actually the opposite: an outpouring of visitors from Utah State.
For some classes, students are asked to visit a mosque. While the Islamic center welcomes visitors to their services and encourages the students’ curiosity, the large and unpredictable number of visiting students was overwhelming.
“Our target participant is actually USU students. It’s been a little out of control, not knowing when they are coming,” Febrian said. “we decided to invite them all to come and have a more organized event.”
The event featured several speakers, including Shane Guymon, a recent convert to Islam. For Guymon, it’s an opportunity to share the side of Islam that he saw as a new convert.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about Islam, but that’s not the Islam that I found. It’s beautiful, and I want to hopefully share that,” Guymon said, elaborating on which aspects of the faith were most meaningful to him. “Just the love. The love of god and the love of others is a vital key to Islam.”
Guymon and other event organizers taught about basic concepts of Islam, including the five pillars of Islam and the concept of jihad, which is often misunderstood.
“It’s the same set of principles that guide everything that you do in your life,” said Ayman Alafifi, who spoke at the event. “The way you behave toward your fellow muslims and non-muslims — human beings.”
Speakers later answered questions from visitors. Some asked about prayer, others about why muslim women cover their hair or how muslims perceive their relationship to God. Each was answered, and Guymon showed the group one of the first prayers he learned.
While teaching the group, Guymon paused, faltering for a moment as the crowd hushed. Fellow speaker Mubarak Ukashat reminded him, saying the first word of the next phrase. There were pauses like this throughout the night, when the mosque grew quiet as questions were asked and misconceptions were addressed.
According to USU professor Bonnie Glass-Coffin, who spoke at the event, these moments are pivotal to interfaith understanding.
“If you are going to bathe in the waters of interfaith cooperation, you have to be ready to get wet,” she said, quoting Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. “Now more than ever before, we need to get to know our neighbors of all faith traditions.”
Photo by Katherine Taylor