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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

Logan's Muslim community happy here, with respect offered and returned

By Marie MacKay

March 8, 2006 | LOGAN -- Each Friday afternoon at 1:30, a group of men gather in a small red brick house to pray.

In the front window of the house is a small wooden sign that reads Logan Islamic Center. Inside, an empty living room with barren white walls and white carpet is transformed into the only active mosque in the city. The men are kneeling in the same direction, listening to the prayer call of another man standing in the far corner.

Although in Utah their numbers may seem small, these individuals are members of the second largest religion in the world: Islam. There are about 1.3 billion Muslims scattered throughout the globe, covering 21 percent of the world's population, according to Adherants Web site. About 60 of them are living in Cache Valley.

For many Muslims who come to Utah, whether for education, employment or other reasons, Logan is generally a place they can feel comfortable, despite slight misconceptions. "Once I came to Logan the people are a lot more friendly and open," said Asiful Ghani, a junior majoring in computer engineering from Bangladesh. "When I compare [Logan] to other cities, it's a lot better place."

Because many people in Logan are Christian, Ghani said they follow their religion very closely and in return respect those individuals of other religions. "That is what I like most about Logan," he said.

David Tuncer moved from Turkey to Logan about five years ago and is getting his doctorate in mathematics. He said he's happy and it hasn't been that difficult adjusting to the culture. "It was easy because I was expecting what I was going to get here," he said. "My purpose is education."

However, there are still things that Ghani misses since moving to Logan. For example, during Ramadan, Muslims reserve one month each year, usually around October, to fast during daylight hours. For them it is a time of inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control, according to

Normally in Muslim countries, many restaurants and hotels put screens in their windows so those who are fasting can't see the people eating inside, Ghani said. "That's kind of like a respect," he said. "I know [Utah] is not a Muslim country, but that is what I miss."

But Ghani said in many instances, some of his professors and the people he works with on USU's International Student Council made sure they didn't have food in front of him while he was fasting.

Although Ghani and Tuncer have not run into any problems in Logan, there are still misconceptions among individuals, not only in Logan but all over the United States, that associate every Muslim with being a terrorist, Ghani said.

"When [people] find out I'm a Muslim, they use that as a synonym word for terrorist," he said. "It doesn't mean that if you're a Muslim, that you're a terrorist."

Whether Muslim, Christian or a member of any religion, Tuncer said people need to stop looking at each other through narrow windows and judging everyone on preconceived notions. "They are just people, never forget they can make mistakes," he said. "It's the mistakes of the people, it's not the religion."

Similar to many religions, Muslims believe in submission to God or Allah and peace to all humanity. Even Islam's universal salutation, "Al-Salamu Alaikum," is translated, "Peace on you," Tuncer said.

Nazih Al-Rashid, an adjuct associate professor in USU's Department of Sociolgy, Social Work and Anthropology, said through his experience since he moved from Iraq to the United States 29 years ago, he has found that there will always be politics and people do not want to hear the truth.

"We are human, unless we have a problem, we don't like to know," he said. "I've reached the point where words do not help."

However, Ghani said that he is open to learning about other religions in Logan. He said that when he first arrived at USU, missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would come to his house to talk about their beliefs.

"I don't have any complaints," he said. "A lot of my friends don't like that part, but I like it since they're really following their religion."

Once he began learning more, he realized there are similarities between Latter-day Saints and Muslims. For example, both do not believe in smoking or drinking. The major difference between the two is Muslims believe that Jesus Christ is considered a prophet and only worship God, while Latter-day Saints and Christians alike believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God, he said.

According to Jawahir Thontowi, a faculty member of law at the University of Islam Indonesia, the teaching of Islam has had some interaction with Christianity, such as the freedoms of religious life, fair treatment, toleration and compassion.

Among other Muslim beliefs is the respect toward the prophet Muhammad, who at the age of 40 received revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel, which continued for 23 years. The compilation of his work is known as the Quran, according to The book explains the importance of God or Allah. "Know, therefore, that there is no god other than Allah and ask protection for thy human frailties, and for believing men and believing women. And Allah knows the place where you move about and the place where you stay," according to the Quran.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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