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teach-in clarifies misconceptions about Islam
By Laine Walthers, Courtesy of the Mast
of the PLU community joined with local Muslims last month to debunk
myths and stereotypes about Islam and its people at The Cross-Cultural
Islamic Teach-In, sponsored by Young Democrats of Washington and
Advocates for Social Justice. "I think we have a responsibility
to try, as educated students, to not buy into stereotypes, and to
educate others so people don't get hurt," said Beth Hughes,
co-president of Young Democrats. Hisham Farajallah, a volunteer
for the Sheikh Abdull Idriss mosque in Seattle, stressed that education
can overcome misunderstandings and lead to peace. "Without
communication we are not going to go anywhere," he said.
co-president of Young Democrats, expressed concern that broadcast
news has not given an accurate or complete picture of the Islamic
faith or its followers. "We need to realize there is a lot
of diversity within the Islamic world," she said.
agreed "the media has not been kind to Islam" since the
Sept. 11 attacks.
Contrary to some reports, Muslims support freedom, he said. "We
came by choice, and we became citizens by choice," said Farajallah,
who has lived in Washington for 16 years and is an engineer for
The Boeing Co. "I am here because of freedom."
what he thought led the terrorists to act as they did, Farajallah
said Islam does not condone killing. "I'm afraid to kill a
bird; how they kill a human, I don't know."
When Muslims commit acts that are not in accordance with Islam,
he said, it is not a shortcoming of their religion, but of the human
clarified some confusion about the term "jihad," which
has been widely defined as a "holy war," even though Islam
is a peaceful religion. He also addressed misconceptions about women's
roles in Islam. According to Farajallah, the sexes have equal rights
but different roles. He said the mother is the most important person
in a Muslim man's life. Farajallah outlined the five pillars of
Islam: declaration of faith, prayer five times a day, pilgrimage
to the first mosque in Mecca at least once in a lifetime if physically
and financially able, mandatory almsgiving and fasting during the
Islamic month of Ramadan. The Arabic word "Islam" means
complete submission and obedience to Allah.
is a practical religion," he said. "We have a saying,
'the heavens will not rain gold and silver,' so go out and work."