July 27, 2007
Woodland Ecumenical Ministries
sponsors classes about Islamic beliefs
By Nosheen Khan
Woodland Ecumenical Ministries organized “Learning about Islam” a series of four classes on Muslim beliefs and practices at Woodland United Methodist Church 212 North Street, Woodland, CA. The Islamic classes were the brainchild of Rev. Ardith Allread of United Methodist church.
Khalid Saeed, national president of American Muslim Voice, volunteered to conduct these classes which covered the current issues from an Islamic perspective, e.g. what does the Quran say about issues?
And what does a Muslim really believe?
The classes, which were open to the public, attracted bout 30 people belonging to different churches.
During each session, from July 23-26, 2007 which began from 6:30 pm-8:00pm, Khalid Saeed made a slide presentation from the Holy Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad which was a followed by a question answer session and group discussion. The following topics were discussed during the classes. (Khalid Saeed with Rev. Ardith Allread)
- July 23: Islam: Beliefs and Practices
- July 24: Jihad: Terrorism, Suicide bombing, etc.
- July 25: The Muslim Woman: Rights, Education, Modern Life
- July 26: Human Rights: Muslims’ relations with non-Muslims
Khalid Saeed emphasized that Islam is the religion of peace. He said: “It is the path of wholesomeness and perfection which God made available for humanity through His prophets and messengers throughout history and finally through Prophet Muhammad. Islam teaches individuals to be honest, truthful, patient, contented, charitable, cheerful and tolerant. It tells them to control their anger and to forgive when others do wrong to them.
“But the current world events, situations in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan and related international politics has unfortunately led to many conflicts in the world. It has created misunderstandings and mistrust. Intentionally and unintentionally by taking verses of Quran out of context Islam is being labeled that it promotes terrorism and is being presented negatively.”
In one example Khalid Saeed pointed out that the critics of Islam often quote from the Quran a very small part of a verse (2:191), arguing that the Quran says: "Kill them wherever you catch them". But when placed within their textual and historical contexts, however, the true meanings emerge:
"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah does not love transgressors. Kill them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. But do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there. If they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression and justice and faith in Allah prevail. If they cease, engage in hostility only against those who practice oppression. There is the law of equality of for the prohibited months, and so for all things prohibited. If any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress likewise against him. But be conscious of Allah and know that He is with those who restrain themselves" (2:190-194).
Khalid Saeed invited Miss Dina El Nakhal, a senior Engineer with California Transportation Department, to make presentation on women’s rights in Islam.
Miss Dina El Nakhal explained: Woman is recognized by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father; she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is not less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities. To this equal partner-ship in the reproduction of human kind God says: (Engineer Dina El Nakhal)
O mankind! Verily We have created your from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other... (Qur'an, 49:13;cf. 4:1).
Islamic scriptures allowed women to inherit property and choose and divorce husbands centuries before Western nations, she said. Men are instructed repeatedly throughout Islamic holy texts to respect and honor their mothers, daughters and wives, she told the audience.
Media reports about the repression of women in Islamic nations is symbolized by the image of women wearing Hijab. Miss Dina El Nakhal explained that for many Muslim women Hijab is a symbol of modesty rather than a religious duty. She said women who are oppressed in some Islamic nations suffer because of politics or culture, not because of religion.
After the four day classes, Khalid Saeed said that it is important to help clarify many misconceptions. “Majority of Americans are wonderful and fair minded people who some times get manipulated only because they just do not know the real facts from holy Quran.”
The participants enjoyed the lecture series and sincerely thanked for the presentations.