Last Friday, Muslim students greeted their peers and faculty with flowers.
From 11 a.m. to noon, roughly 40 Muslim students, spread throughout various campus locations, handed out red and white roses to passers-by. Attached to each rose was a short quote from the Prophet Muhammad.
"The project began in New Zealand and our national organizers hoped to get as many cities as possible to participate in the gesture on February 8th," said Fatima Alramadhan, a second-year graduate student at Oregon State University and one of the project's organizers.
With frequent negative ideas in the media concerning Muslims, the students who organized this event hoped it would counteract potential misconceptions.
"For me personally, I just felt it was a good idea," Alramadhan said. "[It is] breaking stereotypes against Muslims and gives people a different perspective."
The OSU community made what these students hoped to achieve easy with an overwhelmingly positive response. Prospective students touring the campus smiled as they were greeted with roses in the library quad. For current students hurriedly making their way to class, the action caught them by surprise.
"I thought it was a really nice gesture," said William Mays, a sophomore at OSU. "It definitely made my day."
The choice of red and white roses did not go without purpose, according to the event's organizers.
"We chose red and white roses because they symbolize love and peace," said volunteer Hawra Aljomaan.
While handing out red and white roses was a simple gesture, according to Alramadhan and her collaborators, preparation for the event was tiring. She and her roommates stayed up late the night before the event printing out quotes from the Prophet Muhammad and tying them to each of the 1,300 roses.
One quote read, "Conduct yourself in this world as if you are here to stay forever, and yet prepare for eternity as if you are to die tomorrow."
"Putting it together took a whole week and a half," Alramadhan said. "We spent eight hours on Monday trying to organize everyone and last night I was working at 7 p.m. and [did not] go to bed until 4:30 a.m."
The event not only helped to narrow the gap between Muslim students and the rest of the OSU community, but to educate students as well.
Alramadhan said many students asked questions about the Islamic prophet Muhammad upon receiving roses.
The core belief that Alramadhan frequently shared with inquisitive students was that "all Muslims believe there is no God but Allah, and Prophet Muhammad is his messenger."
"Allah" is the Arabic translation for "the God." In the seventh century, Muhammad claimed the angel Gabriel visited him and revealed the words of Allah. Muslims believe in the biblical prophets, but regard Muhammad as Allah's final prophet.
The large Muslim community on campus helped to make the event possible through word of mouth and generous donations. The 40 volunteers all sported the same white crewnecks with a logo and quote by Muhammad. These sweatshirts and the 1,300 roses were mostly paid for by donations, leaving little financial burden on the event's organizers and participants.
The event brought a lot of publicity to the Muslim community on campus. Many of the volunteers who [were not] busy handing out flowers were instead filming the event and taking various photographs.
Ahmed Alsaihati, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, was one of the volunteers filming the event. Alsaihati works for KBVR but takes pleasure in shooting footage for various events put on by OSU's Muslim community.
"It is all my own equipment," said Alsaihati. "I enjoy doing it, it is mostly a hobby."
With thousands of students and faculty passing through campus each day, the gesture reached out to the community.
"I really care about this community," said Alramadhan. "To bring the message of our prophet and let people know this is what our prophet tells us was really gratifying."