Friday, March 31, 2006

Khan analyzes misconceptions of Islam
March 30th, 2006
Angela Kim, News Assistant

"What would Muhammed do?" investiages second-largest religion in the world
Islam stands to be the second-most practiced religion globally, but how much does the inclusive environment at Virginia Tech really know about the Muslim culture? Within any religion, there are misconceptions, generalizations, and stereotypes, but the Muslim Student Association wants to set aside any misunderstandings during Islam Awareness Week.Shaykh Safi Khan, a professional speaker and student of Islam, spoke with students last night in his lecture titled, “What Would Muhammad Do?” to address topics concerning the reality of the Islam and the adverse stereotypes of terrorism, women's rights, oppression, and discrimination.Through historical accounts and stories of Muhammad's humbling actions, the audience grasped an understanding of Islam and its values. Khan shared with the audience the humbling actions and teachings of Muhammad in order to educate about Muhammad's dedication to morality and values of peace.“It was in prophet Muhammad's nature to be very caring and kind … Prophet Muhammad was a man who valued knowledge,” Khan said.Khan said that Muhammad altered the women's positions within Islam, giving women an identity in a society where women were treated as property. “Prophet Muhammad brought rights for the women to own property - 1,200 years before women in the west were given that right. Muslim women were voting in the time of Muhammad, 1,200 years before the women's suffrage act.”Khan said that Muhammad was tolerant of other religions and those prejudiced against Islam. In a world where Muslims were discriminated, Muhammad taught Muslims to be mindful of Allah's peaceful acclamations. “He said to use the troubles of the world and enrich the world hereafter,” he said.Khan addressed various topics affecting the Muslim community by taking on the leadership of Muhammad.“I think it's important for a professional speaker to come and be able to answer questions and clear misconceptions in the best manner. He can speak in the best manner more effective than we can as students,” said Nassiba Adjerid, graduate student in biological studies and secretary of MSA.Students attending the lecture believed the lecture provided insight into Islam and the life of Muhammad. Lily Tam, senior animal and poultry science major, said she felt Khan's lecture addressed the ideals of Muhammad and the values of Islam.“Khan described Muhammad as a knowledgeable man who was concerned with Islam values within society. I learned that he was concerned with women's rights, oppression of Muslims in society and the importance of Islam morality within different cultures,” Tam said.Nina Alanes, freshman accounting major, said, “Muhammad was a normal person, but the lecture showed me who he really was. Muhammad was not described as holy or perfect, but a man of good faith no matter what religion.” Adjerid said that MSA hopes to clear misconceptions through open dialogues among students and faculty within a general population in the community.“The goal for Islam Awareness Week is to increase awareness, not just about the religion but also about Muslims on campus who follow the religion,” Adjerid said.The MSA also hopes to battle the stereotypes presented in the media.“I think there has been great response on the campus community. There has been excitement on campus and from students,” Adjerid said. “The purpose is to enlighten students and have them engage more, ask questions and feel more comfortable with us on campus. Our point is to increase awareness.”Tam said she felt that Khan's lecture educated the audience and addressed the concerns within Islam. “I was unaware of the Islamic religion, and I'm glad that I attended Khan's lecture because I have expanded my knowledge of religious views, especially the Muslim culture,” Tam said.Mark McNamee, university provost, said “It's important we take time to step back from our daily lives, to learn about different cultures and religions … I think more people and the more time we do this, we can make progress for peace in this world. I'm especially proud that Virginia Tech is home to so many students and cultures who are willing to share their cultures and values.”

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