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ISSUE 119 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/5/2006

Islam explored

By Jean Mullins
News Editor

Friday, May 5, 2006

The St. Olaf Muslim Students Association (MSA) sponsored the second annual Islamic Conference Saturday. The theme of this year's conference was "Toward Understanding Islam and Muslims."

The first speaker, Shareef Al-Shinawi, informed the audience about the basic beliefs and practices of Islam in his lecture, entitled "Fundamentals of Islam." Al-Shinawi explained that Islam shares the belief in one God that Jews and Christians do. The difference is that Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammed taught the continuation of God's message. Muslims do acknowledge Jesus and Moses as great prophets. Muslims extend Jews and Christians a certain kinship because they believe in the same God. "We should come together from what we have in common," he said.

Al-Shinawi explained the traditions and practices of Muslims, enumerating the five pillars of Islam: the declaration of one God, prayer five times daily, fasting during Ramadan, giving two and a half percent of one's assets to the poor and pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city.

Following Al-Shinawi, Abdikarim Hassan gave a talk entitled "The Prophet Muhammed and his message." He began his speech listing all the great titles the Prophet Muhammed assumed during his life: leader, revolutionist, spiritual leader, scientist, historian and prophet.

When the Prophet was 40 years old, the Angel Gabriel made a revelation to the Prophet. The Prophet Muhammed then endured 23 years of hardship spreading the world of Islam.

Following lunch, there were three breakout sessions for participants. In the first session, "Misconceptions about Islam" was led by Salah Mohamed '06 and University of Minnesota junior Ramla Bile. Bile and Mohamed addressed the depiction of Islam as a religion of terror in the media and talked about the misconceptions. In the second session, "Living a Muslim Life at St. Olaf", Khider Elnimeiry '07, Faiz Abdirahman '06, Ali Ahmed '09 and Mohamed Osman '06 discussed living life as a Muslim at St. Olaf. The session addressed being a Muslim at a Lutheran school as well as balancing their religious duty with their religion. The third session, "Worship in Islam," was led by Al-Shinawi and addressed the ways Muslims worship. Participants in this session went on a tour of the St. Olaf Mosque in Flatten Hall.

The conference finished with Samir Saikali’s lecture "Jesus in Islam." Saikali explained that Muslims do not believe that Jesus was divine, but that he was a great prophet who performed the miracles of God. "The reason God sends a human being is so we can emulate him," Saikali said. Muslims also believe that Jesus will return as Revelation predicts.

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