In the middle of SF State‘s quad on a sunny Friday afternoon, about 60 people sat shoeless in front of a scholar dressed in white garb and a kufi, listening to him preach mankind’s forgetfulness of its creator, Allah. Several spectator students sit nearby listening in on the sermon.
This is Muslim Student Association’s “Jumaa Under the Sun.” Jumaa is an Islamic community prayer gathering held every Friday, where daily prayers are said with fellow Muslims instead of alone. During these jumaa’s, a “jumaa khutabah,” or Friday sermon is given. The MSA holds “Jumaa Under the Sun” once a semester to raise awareness of Islam on campus, and build unity within MSA.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t know what Islam is,” said David Mohammed, MSA president. “Since September 11, there’s a lot of misunderstanding. We’re trying to spread what Islam really is. We’re trying to preach we’re a religion of peace.”
Many other members of MSA were eager to elaborate on Mohammed’s words.
“There’s even advertisements on billboards and on Muni that put Islamic verses out of the Quran out of context and say Islam is all about violence, war, subduing people, forcing them to believe what Islam believes in,” 19-year-old computer science major Bilal Thapaliya, said. “The word Islam means peace acquired by submitting your will to the creator, the one who created everything.”
The Quranic sermon given by Islamic scholar Fasih Kahwaja surrounded Allah’s question: “What was that thing that made you forget about your creator? The one who has created and fashioned you as one of the best of my creation? I expected you to do good. I expected you to understand the purpose of your life. But what was that thing that made you forget about me?” as translated from Arabic by Kahwaja.
Marissa Whitten, a history major with an emphasis in Middle Eastern studies, spotted the jumaa while walking across the quad and dropped in to experience what she has been studying at SF State.
“I thought it was very eloquent, everything about it (the sermon). There was a certain spirit and fluidity about the culture and the procession: how respectful everyone is, interested and focused in everything that is going on,” said Whitten, 25.
After the procession, the community enjoyed a picnic of Indian food, watermelon, cake and soda. A table of Qurans and Islamic pamphlets was also set up to explain Islamic tradition.