CAIRO – Usually appearing in interfaith or religious events, members of Muslim Student Association in Central Michigan’s University had an unlikely appearance in a soccer game where they won the IM soccer championship, presenting a vivid image of integrating young Muslims.
“MSA was re-launched this year after being inactive for several years. We wanted the Muslim community to be involved in sports and social activities,” MSA President Mishari Alkhuwaiter told CM Life, Central Michigan University's (CMU) newspaper.
”So what is better than playing soccer for the guys?”
The achievement was made last Monday when the team known as MSA celebrated victory in the men’s soccer league after defeating rival team “Grape” in a high scoring game, 10-9.
Usually engaged in events that celebrate Islamic heritage or relations with other faiths, the soccer game offered MSA a chance to increase awareness about Islam and to strengthen ties with CMU students.
“The Muslim community is not that big here,” Alkhuwaiter said, referring to the 200 member group in CMU.
“My goal is to make some awareness of Islam. Most feel intimidated by something they don’t know and one of the goals of the MSA is to get involved in the community, be out there, and have a good representation in the community.”
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.
Participating in the tournament for the first team, MSA coach Alkhuwaiter tried to pick up the most skilled players.
Storming over competition in the tournament, MSA team doubled the competition’s score in the first round, quarterfinal and semifinal games.
“They shocked me, I mean I know they are talented, but I did not know they were this good,” Alkhuwaiter said.
Expressing joy about the championship title, he said he hopes it would bring light to his organization at CMU and in the community.
Formed 20 years ago to represent growing number of Muslim students on campus, MSA was getting a bigger role in the post-9/11 era.
It has been working hard over the past decade to provide programs for people of all backgrounds to meet with other Muslims on and off campus in an effort to correct misconceptions about Islam.
Courses were offered to students about the religion that is adopted by 1.5 billion people around the world.
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