Muslim students give back at homeless shelter

  • Every other Friday during the school year for the past four years, a group of Muslim students have gathered in a small mosque gymnasium to give back to the community. The goal is to uphold the teachings of Islam, but its most recent meeting held even more significance.

  • Project Downtown, hosted by the MSU Muslim Students’ Association, or MSA, is a biweekly gathering where participants make lunches for the homeless in Lansing shelters, complete with bologna sandwiches, grapes and cookies for desert.

  • The group chose Sept. 11 — the 8th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks — to begin the year’s round of visits to local shelters as part of a nationwide effort to demonstrate that Muslims shouldn’t be held to the stereotype established by a few extremists, said Authra Khreis, MSA’s community service head.

  • “What happened on Sept. 11, that wasn’t Islam, that’s not what it’s about,” said Khreis, a medical technology junior. “Serving God is serving others in need.”

  • Project Downtown met at the Islamic Center of East Lansing to prepare food and then carpooled to a Volunteers of America homeless shelter in Lansing.

  • When the food was gone, group members sat and talked with the people in the shelter, which MSA President Khasim Jafri said can be the most rewarding part of the experience.

  • “You’re physically handing out the sandwiches you made to the people that need them,” said Jafri, a physiology senior. “They don’t necessarily have the best meals every day. Whatever they are given is all they have to choose from.”



  • The project itself began in Miami when a group of students decided to provide sandwiches for many local homeless.

  • After joining forces with MSA, Project Downtown has spread across the country and has given out more than 10,000 meals and 1,500 articles of clothing.



Virtue of Making Salaam First: Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radhiallahu Anhu) relates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said: “The one who makes salaam first is free from pride.” (Baihaqi – Shu’abul Imaan 6/433)