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Muslim Student Association Hosts Dinner to Promote Interreligious Dialogue

April 07, 2016

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7242

Scholars with event organizersFrom left, Dr. Adam Seligman, Asim Elrayah '17, Mina Alrais '17, Omer Elrayah '17, Dr. Christian Krokus, Sevda Islamova '17, Dr. Sana Haroon, Professor Pilarski, Professor Bidlack, Grace Anderson '17, and Abdelaziz AlSharawy '16.


In an effort to raise awareness for the need of interreligious dialogue, the Saint Anselm College Muslim Student Association (MSA) is hosting a charity dinner and discussion at the NewHampshire Institute of Politics on Thursday, April 7 at 5 p.m. Attendees, including members of the Manchester area community, students, faculty, staff, and a panel of distinguished scholars will address the question: can interreligious dialogue end religious hate?

Sponsored by the college's President's Steering Committee for Inclusiveness, the event is dedicated to promoting understanding between diverse cultures and religions.

"We are hoping to create a platform for conversation and interaction that allows for the understanding of different perspectives," says theology professor and Special Assistant for the President for Diversity & Inclusiveness, Ahida Pilarski.

The panel's distinguished scholars, representing each of the monotheistic religions, will initiate the discussion before opening it for attendee discussion. The scholars include Dr. Adam Seligman, Professor of Religion at Boston University; Dr. Sana Haroon, Assistant Professor in History of Asian Studies at University of Massachusetts Boston; and Dr. Christian Krokus, Associate Professor of Theology and Religion at University of Scranton.Muslim Student Association Dinner 2016

"I think this event is going to bring a positive result," says Omer Elrayah '17, a biochemistry major and co-president of the MSA. "For some, it's the first time they are seeing people from different faiths. It's an opportunity for them to come together non-violently and share ideas and perspectives that are contrary to what they might think themselves or get from media coverage."

Coinciding with the college's Benedictine Heritage week, event planners hope the dialogue will build on the Benedictine value of hospitality, according to theology professor Bede Bidlack.

The MSA hopes that the event brings the outside community to the college campus for meaningful conversation.

"Interreligious dialogue is the only way to end religious hate," says Asim Elrayah '17, a chemistry major and MSA treasurer. "It's an opportunity to hear other's opinions. One cannot assume. They need to speak with others. Everyone needs to get together and understand the real problem."

Event proceeds will be distributed equally to one Muslim, Christian, and Jewish charity including the Construction of the First Mosque in New Hampshire, New Hampshire Catholic Charities, and the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire.

Tickets for the event are $10 for faculty, staff, and the outside community, and $5 for students.

The Office of Campus Ministry, the Sociology Department, Office of Residential Life and Education, and the Multicultural Center and Education Services are also involved in this campus-wide effort.

Event schedule

5 - 5:30 p.m. - Arrival and Appetizer
5:30 - 6 p.m. - Dinner
6 - 6:30 p.m. - Panel Discussion (10 minutes each)
6:30 - 7 p.m. - Open Dialogue Session

Charities Served
Construction of the First Mosque in New Hampshire: The construction project started in September 2006, with a team of volunteers clearing up the land for site preparation. ISGM (Islamic Society of Greater Manchester) continues to raise funds to undertake this substantial task of raising $2.5 million for building a place of worship for its membership and the constituents it represents. The ISGM remains dedicated to supporting and serving the ever-growing Muslim community and remains confident and committed to attain this noble goal.

New Hampshire Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities is one of the largest private, non-profit, social service agencies in the state. Every year, they provide help and create hope for people facing hardship and life-changing situations. Our programs and services have evolved over the years to include those that are most critical to the current needs of the residents of New Hampshire. Run by trained professionals and supported by dedicated volunteers, our dynamic array of programs serves our mission to move lives forward.
Catholic Charities honors the dignity of life with programs and services that feed the hungry, heal and comfort the sick, strengthen families and welcome the newcomers.

The Jewish Federation of New Hampshire: The JFNH promotes Jewish continuity and life for all Jews in New Hampshire by serving and supporting a vibrant Jewish community. The JFNH goal is to Preserve Jewish identity culture and values; revitalizing Jewish life. Rescuing the imperiled and caring for the vulnerable. Supporting programs that strengthen the Jewish family. Improving the human condition of the general and Jewish communities through effective Jewish social actions.

Story by Rosemary Lausier '16; Photos by Arif Elrayah.
Second photo (left to right)
Professor Bidlack, Asim Elrayah '17, Sevda Islamova '17, Mina Alrais '17, Omer Elrayah '17, Professor Pilarski, Abdelaziz AlSharawy '16, and Grace Anderson '17.

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