Islamic Society hosts informative session

In an effort to clear up misconceptions and educate others, the Islamic Society at UM [ISUM] held a crash course in Islamic religion on Wednesday. The event, entitled Islam 101, was held in the UC I-Lounge and was open to students and community members alike.

In a two-and-a-half-hour presentation, four student speakers carried out the orientation on Islam and the Muslim world. The speakers were trained and certified by the Islamic Speakers Bureau [ISB] of South Florida, a free resource that aims to orient others about Islam.

In a PowerPoint presentation, the speakers addressed the fundamental beliefs and practices of the Islamic religion. Islam, which comes from the Arabic root word “silm,” means peace and teaches peace through submission to God. For followers, however, Islam is more than just a religion.

“Islam is something that encompasses all of your life,” Amir Zaher, one of the speakers, said. “It’s not just something you practice for a couple of hours a day or a couple of days out of the week – it’s a way of life.”

The presentation also gave a brief history of Muhammad-whom Islam teaches to be the last prophet-and why it’s important for a Muslim to make a pilgrimage to Makkah sometime during their lifetime. The presentation also pointed out the fact that over 1.2 billion people, or 20 percent of the world’s population, are Muslim and touched upon some common religious practices including the importance of fasting, daily praying and the Qur’an.

“I’m taking an introductory religion course and the event was publicized in class,” Layla Aldousany, freshman, said. “Islam is going to be covered later on in the course, so I thought it was a good idea to come.”

At one point, the presentation was interrupted so Muslims who were present could carry out an after-sunset prayer, one of five daily prayers. Many students looked on as the practice was carried out.

“I came tonight to gain a deeper understanding of what worship means to a Muslim,” Craig Shoeyink, a graduate student, said. “I think it’s important to understand and know how it differs from what I believe in as a Christian.”

Once the formal PowerPoint presentation was concluded, the speakers were able to answer audience questions. Clarification was given to many controversial topics including the term “jihad,” the issue of peace in the Middle East and the way Muslims and the Islamic religion have been portrayed in the media.

“Ever since 9/11, people have been flipped out,” Rick Kennedy, a graduate student, said. “I just wanted to come tonight to find common ground between Americans and those from the Middle East and common goals between different groups and religions.”

Whatever the reason students chose to attend Wednesday’s event, there was a general consensus that the presentation was informative and well done.

“I thought they did a really good presentation despite the time constraint,” Jessica Serrano, senior, said.

Angelique Thomas can be contacted at