MARSHFIELD, WI. 5/3/2015 – For more than two hours Saturday afternoon about 150 people took time from enjoying a sunny, warm day to participate in a seminar about Islam.
From firefighters to carpenters to medical professionals, people used the pens and notepads provided at the tables at the Marshfield Holiday Inn to take notes — a lot of notes.
As news of atrocities committed by terrorists in the name of Islam have become prevalent in the media, misconceptions about the religion have grown, said Dr. Asif Hussain, president and member of member of the Marshfield mosque Masjid Al Noor.
“Islam is not IS (Islamic State) and Osama Bin Laden. It is up to us, Muslims in the community, to explain what Islam is,” Hussain said.
The Islamic State is a group of Sunni militants who believe in strict enforcement of Sharia law and have carried out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in areas of the Middle East. Osama Bin Laden was a notorious terrorist who devised the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
The large crowd attending Freedom of Speech and Misconceptions about Islam was good to see, Hussain said.
The genesis of the presentation is that Christianity, Islam and Judaism share the same God and many other aspects of faith, said Dr. Sabeel Ahmed who led the event.
Ahmed is the director of the Chicago-based GainPeace Project which was formed to share Islam with non-Muslims and to clarify misconceptions about the faith.
“For neighbors to become friends, they need to get to know each other. To become friends we need to look at the things we have in common,” Ahmed said.
“I’ve studied the Quran, the Bible and about 80 percent of the things (in the books) we have in common,” Ahmed said.
He talked about the similarities in sharing the 10 Commandments, the sanctity of life, many of the prophets and the reverence for Jesus’s mother, Mary.
The violence committed in the name of Islam was a common theme among the questions asked by participants.
Chris Wolf, a carpenter and volunteer pastor at Faith Fellowship Church in Marshfield read from a Quaran different passages which advocate violence against non-Muslims.
The passages were written at a time when Islam was under attack and reflect the need to protect Muslims during a “just war,” Ahmed said.
“Islam is not a pacifist faith. …but a practical faith,” Ahmed said. He added that the Quran says when Muslims are attacked they must defend themselves.
The Old Testament of the Bible contains many passages advocating violence and where God instructs the Jews to kill others, Ahmed said.
“Christians have taken the Bible out of context too. Consider the Crusades, the Inquisition and the injustice of slavery,” he said.
To counter the fundamentalism of faith, parents and the community have the duty to ensure children are well-educated, Ahmed said.
“But how can we address this problem throughout the world?” Wolf asked.
Education along with teaching compassion and tolerance is the answer, Ahmed said.
Following the event, Corbin Vidaillet, a recent college graduate, of Marshfield said the seminar expanded his understanding of Islam.
“I definitely have respect for someone who has a strong dedication to their own faith and also understanding of others faiths. It’s interesting how much our faiths have in common,” Vidaillet said.
Respect for other religions and education is a good goal, said Wolf.
“If all Muslims could be educated according to Dr. Sabeel’s theology of Islam, it would reduce violence. But given the violence of the original text of Islam, I don’t find that to be practical at all,” Wolf said.
The answer for a peaceful world is Christianity, he said.
Jody Clements, a firefighter with the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department attended the seminar with other firefighters.
“As firefighters our job is to help everyone who lives, visits or passes through Marshfield. Coming here we can learn about another religion and culture. It helps us to be more effective doing our job. And education is always good,” Clements said.
Article Courtesy: Marshfield News Herald
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