By Melissa Gilbert |Staff Writer|
The Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) organized Islamic Awareness Week May 6-8.
Manal Museitef, president of the MSA explained, “This week was organized for students to learn more about Islam since there are a lot of misconceptions here in the United States.”
The first lecture was given by UCLA alumnus Abdallah Jadallah. He provided information about the roles of Moses and Jesus in Islam.
Jadallah explained some of the similarities shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam through the two prophets.
The tone of the lecture was friendly and inclusive. Jadallah welcomed questions, and was not afraid to admit that as a Muslim, it is OK to answer a question by ‘I don’t know’ instead of giving information that may not be true.
The second day consisted of a panel of two men, Kunal Patadia and Genaro Waheed, who shared the journey to Islam, .
For Patadia, a young Indian man coming from a Hindu background, the path to Islam started in high school. He explained that one of his good friends was a Muslim.
“I took interest in Islam because I could not relate to my parents’ religion. At that point, I started asking more questions to my friend about Islam,” said Patadia.
Waheed on the other hand, came from a southern Baptist background. He said he was also searching for more answers spiritually.
In 1998, after studying multiple religions, Waheed turned to Islam.
During the Q&A session, the question of violence often associated with some Muslims was raised. Particularly, in regards to the kidnapping of 200 girls in Nigeria.
Waheed responded, “It is never Islam. It is the people who do bad things.”
He continued and said, “The information we receive here is not balanced. We do not get to hear about the other side of stories. It is one-sided.”
Both panelists made it clear that it is fundamental to avoid generalization, especially in a post 9/11 United States. Not every Muslim is a terrorist.
Taher Herazellah gave the last lecture of the week entitled, “A Political View of Islam.”
He discussed the importance of the participation of young Muslims in politics. According to him, Muslims should not fear positions of leadership as long as it is for the greater good.
“Islam is inherently political. Islam has come to change the status quo,” said Herazellah.
He also advocates that Muslims need to take part in politics at any level to challenge injustices and support communities.
Islam Awareness Week has reached its goal to educate students about the true nature of Islam and hopefully managed to open minds.
To learn more about Islam, it is possible to join the MSA meetings every week at the Interfaith center located in the Student Union at 2p.m.