Utah Islamic community celebrates their first Muslim American Heritage Month

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SALT LAKE CITY — For Muslims in our community, July is a special month. It’s a chance for them to feel seen, recognized and included.

“It’s amazing. You don’t think that it would happen,” said Rukhsana Iqbal with the Utah Muslim Civic League, a local nonprofit that helps Muslims thrive.

Iqbal said this is the first year that the community has been able to celebrate Muslim American Heritage Month by hosting various events all month long. Last year, Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law that every July would be recognized as Muslim American Heritage Month.

“We were just in shock,” Iqbal recalled.

But, because that law passed in July, they were not able to celebrate it that year.

Iqbal said the goal of these events is “making people more aware and giving them more opportunities to see us, hear us, be part of us share our differences — and at the same time, embrace them.”

There is a display of Muslim stories and books by Muslim authors at the Salt Lake City Public Library.

“I think stories teaches us and shows us the inner working or the back, everything that led to that one moment, or how to understand that or how people from different places got affected by certain events and how they defined them,” explained Iqbal.

Through events like conversations about wearing the hijab, prayer meets, interfaith dinners and more that happened throughout the month, this recognition is a way for Muslims from all over to come together and celebrate their culture. And there are a couple more big events lined up before the end of the month, including the first halal food festival.

“Halal food is one of the biggest concerns whenever anybody goes anyplace, and so we’re doing that, and with that, we’re doing a cricket match,” said Iqbal.

That event is on Saturday at Rosewood Park.

On Wednesday, the group is hosting a youth basketball clinic with elected officials.

The goal is to educate people about Muslims and help people feel together and understood.

“When we think of Muslims, we just put them in one box which is not the case, we are the most diverse. And we’re from all walks of life,” Iqbal said.

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