Islam Society presents annual banquet Saturday

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By Emmy Jensen

In a state predominately filled with members of the LDS faith exists a Muslim society striving to foster an Islamic way of life based on a fair, virtuous and compassionate community.

The Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake was created for Muslims in Utah who live the ideals from the Holy Qur’an and the path of moderation described within.

“There are a great deal of Muslims in Salt Lake,” said Andrew Kosorok, a glass artist and Islam researcher. “I believe the majority of them belong to this group.”

The society puts on a banquet every year celebrating the Islam faith in America.

“It is a fundraising banquet that they put on annually,” Kosorok said. “They bring in a speaker to talk about Islam in the modern world and what it means to be Muslim.”

This year, the banquet will feature Sheikh Mutahhir Sabree, a renowned scholar and speaker from South Carolina. Sabree has been a Muslim for more than 30 years and hosts a cable broadcast about the religion titled “Bridge to Faith.” He will speak on the challenges and opportunities in America.

Congressman Jim Matheson will be at the banquet showing his support for the society along with a  few other local politicians.

Elder Kent Richards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be in attendance as a representative for the Church.

According to Kosorok, Latter-day Saints have long shown support for the Muslims.

“Leaders in the LDS Church have been showing their support for the Muslims since the religion was restored,” Kosorok said. “They explain that our religious rights don’t really mean much unless we extend that liberty to others.”

Kosorok has taken the initiative to study the Muslim religion and gain a better understanding of their culture. As a glass maker he has created a series of glass sculptures relating to the 99 names of God described by Muhammad.

When the Islamic Society heard about Kosorok’s art, they invited him to bring some of his sculptures to display at the banquet. From there, Kosorok received an invitation from the Interfaith Round Table to attend the banquet.

“It’s great to be invited because I am LDS and they are all Muslim,” he said. “We get along very well.”

Fellow Mormons are pleased with the support the LDS Church has given the Muslims.

“Muslims are experiencing hatred much like the early Mormons felt as the Church was being developed,” said Cami Whitaker, a resident from Provo. “We need to try and understand how it feels for these people and treat them with respect.”

Some students are eager to attend the event to gain a better understanding of the Muslim religion.

“I think it would be interesting to hear more about what they believe,” said Michelle Maw, a graphics student from UVU. “I know it would help me understand Muslims better.”

The banquet will take place Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City from 6:30-9 p.m. For tickets or more information visit utahmuslims.com.

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