See also: Muslim Students Association of the U.S. & Canada
The mission of the University of California-San Diego's Muslim Students Association (UCSD-MSA) is “to provide an environment for the development and networking of Muslims on campus while fostering a sense of community between Muslims and non-Muslims through education.” Toward that end, the organization sponsors numerous events throughout the academic year, most notably Friday afternoon prayers each week, as well as Friday afternoon Koranic studies (Tafsir) classes for women.
In 2000, UCSD-MSA held its first "Justice in Palestine Week" (JPW), which has remained an annual event at the university ever since. Focusing largely on Israel's alleged human-rights violations and the Palestinians' poverty and despair, the featured speakers at JPW presentations have included such luminaries as Hatem Bazien, Angela Davis, Hedy Epstein, and Norman Finkelstein.
UCSD-MSA has participated numerous times -- along with more than 250 fellow Muslim organizations (mostly chapters of the MSA) -- in an annual “Ramadan Fast-a-Thon,” where students eat nothing from sunrise to sundown on one designated day each year. The purpose of this event -- which was initiated shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks -- is twofold: to "raise money for the hungry and poor," and to help Americans "increase" their "understanding" of Muslims' good intentions. Such notables as Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Sheikh Abdullah Idris Ali, Imam Zaid Shakir, and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf have endorsed the Fast-a-Thon.
The UCSD-MSA website features a section titled “Islam Explained,” which addresses numerous topics of import to practitioners of the Muslim faith. For example, the website says that – contrary to the rhetoric of “politicians, publications and media outlets” – “terrorist attacks and indiscriminate killing are antithetical to the Islamic concept of Jihad.” Rather, says UCSD-MSA, jihad is "a noble concept" that is "initiated for three main reasons … removing oppression, defending the weak, and implementing the justice of Islam." The historical truth about Jihad, however, differs greatly from UCSD-MSA's sanitized version.
The UCSD-MSA website also offers glowing praise for Sharia law, asserting that its "negative reputation" in the West stems chiefly from "an unclear understanding" of its precepts (particularly its emphasis on divine forgiveness); that "non-Muslims under Sharia are protected" so long as they pay a "nominal" annual tax, called jizya, which "does not amount to hardship on the part of the taxed"; and that "the various pockets of minorities which continue to exist in Muslim countries are testimony enough against theories which propound forced conversions and persecution of non-Muslims.”
On May 10, 2010, author and social commentator David Horowitz gave a talk at UC San Diego to counter the Muslim Students Association’s "Israeli Apartheid Week" (IAW). (The purpose of IAW was “to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build [a] Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions ... movement.”) During the question-and-answer period that followed his speech, Horowitz had an illuminating exchange (watch video here) with Jumanah Imad Albahri, UCSD-MSA's outreach coordinator. During the exchange, Horowitz asked Miss Albahri, “Will you condemn Hamas, here and now?” When the woman evaded the question about the genocidal terrorist organization, Horowitz said: “Okay, I’ll put it to you this way. I am a Jew. The head of Hizbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally. [Are you] for or against it?” She replied, “For it.”
In February 2011, UCSD-MSA sponsored "Islam Awareness Week," a series of on-campus events that included a lecture by Jamal Badawi “on commonly misquoted and misunderstood Quranic texts”; a “session on Muslims in America” by Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Area's Council on American-Islamic Relations; and “A Day of Remembrance” in collaboration with the Nikkei Student Union, “highlighting the common struggles and experiences of the Japanese-American and Muslim-American communities during WWII and the post-9/11 eras.”