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
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 Submission.org.
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
"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 www.islamicity.com. 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.