Hundreds of miniature American flags waved on UT’s main mall to commemorate the 14th anniversary of 9/11. Students, faculty and visitors walked by, snapping photos throughout the day. On the East side of campus, a colorful blood donation truck parked, waving a different flag with the phrase “Muslims for Life.”
The seven-member UT branch of Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Organization held its 4th annual 9/11 Muslims For Life memorial blood drive from Sept. 1-11. The event is held at campuses, city halls and churches nationwide for those who meet blood donation criteria to give in memory of the 2,977 total victims. According to freshman AMSO officer Hashir Ayubi, the club reached its goal of 180 pints or 540 saved lives.
Over the past four years the national organization collected over 40,000 pints of blood, essentially saving 120,000 lives according to Usama Malik, ex-AMSO president and UT faculty member.
The group says many Muslims feel obligated to denounce terrorism to prove patriotism, but this event is done rather as affirmation of their peaceful beliefs. The mantra of the event and community is to promote unity — a fundamental part of their spiritual teachings.
“On 9/11, 17 extremists used Islam as a scapegoat — they corrupted the teachings, philosophy and image of Islam for their own gain,” Malik said.
The group’s’ previous events, including an all-female panel on Women in Islam and “Stop the crISIS,” are open to people of all faiths, backgrounds and ideologies. The group says they aim to create healthy dialogue and an environment where everyone can cooperate for the greater good.
“We are proud of our faith and of being Americans,” said AMSO President Mutahir Ahmad. “We want to spread the peaceful message of Islam. The best part is that people simply see the opportunity to help out in any way and jump on it.”
The UT chapter said they plan to have more events eliminating the misconception of Islam, and invite others to be apart of the conversation — participating in the Ahmadiyya communities’ events and asking the tough questions to reach full understanding.
“Islam at its heart has no violence,” Malik said. “We want to show that Muslims can contribute good to this nation. Here we’re shedding blood, not in a violent jihad as portrayed in the media, but to save our fellow Americans.”