Associate News Editor
The Campus Center Ballroom was open to all students and faculty looking to have a better understanding of Islam during the Muslim Students Association’s first official event of the spring semester, titled “Islam 101.”
About 19 people, including club members, attended the lecture at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Traditional Arabic food was served before the start of the lecture, and was followed by the sunset prayer and a brief video MSA put together to show the lack of knowledge University of La Verne students have regarding Islam.
“We wanted to focus on what people misunderstand about Islam and on things they don’t know,” MSA President Firas Arodaki, a senior chemistry and computer science major, said.
Meshal Alajmi, graduate student in health service management and treasurer of Saudi Students Association, said the purpose of the event was to help make a relationship with non-Muslims and show that those separate from the Islamic faith are respected.
“We want to give the true concept of Islam,” Alajmi said. “Some people misunderstand the message of Islam because they see the media and believe its stereotypes.”
After guests helped themselves to the serving of delicious food, Arodaki introduced the guest speaker Hassen Morad.
A graduate student in philosophy, Morad is highly involved in MSA as well as the organization “Why Islam” that focuses on introducing Islam to the United States.
“The sole purpose of life is to worship God,” Morad said.
Morad went on to explain the differences of the words Muslim and Islam, the six major beliefs and the five pillars of Islam.
“Islam means submission to God, and a Muslim is someone who submits to God,” Morad said.
Morad summarized the six major beliefs of Islam, beginning with Allah, which translates to God, and continuing on to the ideas of angels and prophets.
Revelations were the fourth belief that takes form in the Qur’an and prophetic teachings. The Qur’an is the holy book and seen as a guide on how to live while the prophetic teachings are the sayings and actions of the last prophet, Mohammed.
The last two beliefs shared were the ideas of life after death and predestination. Life after death states there will be a judgment day when one’s soul is weighed and sent to heaven or hell. Predestination holds that certain things are predestined, but free will still exists and is used in daily life.
The lecture then continued to the five pillars of Islam; one being Shahada, the declaration of faith, which is the first step in becoming a Muslim. Second is Salah being the five daily prayers and third Zakah, the practice of charity.
Sawm, fasting during the month of Ramadan where no food or drink can be consumed from sunrise to sunset, is done to show what it is like to go without and thus giving a deeper understanding of charity. The fifth pillar, Hajj, is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim aspires to take once in their life.
Moving on to the misconceptions non-Muslims have about Islam, Morad explained that not all Muslims are Arab; however, many Arabs happen to be Muslim.
Possibly the biggest misconception about Islam is the subject of gender equality. Morad said that men and women are equal, but not identical.
With this comes Islamic dress code where women wear a hijab, or headscarf. This style of dress can be compared to the headdress of the Virgin Mary and nuns.
“To Muslims, American women are objectified and degraded by the exploitation of their body,” Morad said in response to Islamic dress.
It was then time for the sunset prayer where MSA and SSA members cleared a spot at the back of the room and performed their ritual. With Arodaki leading the prayer, the rest of the men lined up behind him and the women were placed further back.
With the University of La Verne working on increasing diversity, “Islam 101” is certainly a step in the right direction.
MSA hopes to have more fun and informative events in the near future.
Amanda Nieto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.