North Texas Daily

Islam 101 educates students on Muslim practices

Islam 101 educates students on Muslim practices

March 12
00:25 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

Executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth Council on American-Islamic Relations Alia Salem spoke to about 50 students on March 10 to better inform them on the practices and beliefs of Muslims.

The Muslim Student Association held the event in the Willis Library forum for educational purposes in response to numerous terrorist groups that have impacted how many people feel and think about Islam. The Muslim Student Association wanted to have this lecture to provide a more fair view toward the religion.

“It’s important for people to get information from a balanced, objective presentation, as opposed to the misinformation that has been strewn around,” Salem said.

Salem began the presentation with the Muslim greeting, “As-Salamu alaykum,” which translates to “peace be upon you.”

She informed the audience of the definition of a Muslim. The word literally translates to one who follows Islam. When Islam is translated to peace through following God’s guidance, a Muslim means one who follows God’s guidance to obtain peace.

Salem said Muslims make up a large chunk of the human population. The latest study reports that there are more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, which is more than 25 percent of the world’s population. She addressed the misconception that most Muslims are Arabic, when in fact, only 20 percent of Muslims are Arabic.

“Muslims vary in a lot of ways,” she said. “We need to be critical in our thinking when interacting with individuals.”

She then covered the history of Muslims in the United States. She said that while many people believe Muslims are immigrants, a recent study reported that 17 percent of American Muslims are U.S. citizens.

Salem covered the beliefs and practices of Islam, such as the seven articles of faith, which include belief in God, angels and the Quran. She also covered the five pillars of Islam, which include five daily prayers, donations, and fasting during Ramadan, stressing these were not meant to be acts of oppression toward Muslims. If a Muslim was in a condition that they could not donate or fast, then it would not be required.

The two ultimate goals of Islam are to cultivate one’s relationship with God and to have positive behavior with others, Salem said.

“You can’t have belief without acting upon that belief,” she said.

She then talked about some misconceptions that many have about Islam. She stated that Islam encouraged moderation, as opposed to radical groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Islam also forbids all terrorism.

Despite many beliefs that Muslim women are subjugated by men, Salem said that Islam supports gender equality, and that they have the same rights as men. Salem then talked about the Muslim ideals, such as unbiased justice, sanctity of life and peaceful co-existence.

She said that Islam has many shared beliefs with Christianity, like the worship of one god, the act of prayer and common prophets and stories. They also have shared values including honesty and respect for the earth and learning.

The final message that Salem stressed was that to learn more about the religion, one must study the classical texts like the Quran. Many people can have biased opinions or misinformation, she said.

“It let me know the principles behind Islam,” medical laboratory science junior Elizabeth Medalla said. “It was very educational.”

Afterwards, there was a Q&A held with Salem and several representatives of the Muslim Student Association. They discussed ISIS, stating that while they may call themselves Muslims, their actions are not aligned with the teachings of Islam.

“I have a lot of Muslim friends and that’s why I wanted to come here,” kinesiology junior Colin Bissbort said. “It was a wholesome overview of Islam.”

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