MSU Promotes Islam Awareness

In the West, extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism have become associated with the teachings of Islam. This can be seen through such programming as the insidious nationwide campaign put together by David Horowitz and friends, entitled ‘Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,’ where speakers tried to equate Islam with terrorism and plastered campuses with graphic images of Muslim women being killed. Speakers such as Ann Coulter have called for the mass deportation, murder and conversion of Muslims all over the world. This type of frenzied rhetoric only serves to increase the fear and ignorance most people have toward Islam, and further demonizes Muslims.
Luckily, knowledge is the bridge that will diminish this gap in understanding. Each year, thousands are drawn to Islam due to its message of spiritual oneness with God, tolerance and human dignity, as well as its intellectuality and spirituality. This week, the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine is sponsoring Islam Awareness Week, a series of programs that strives to dispel common misunderstandings and address the rising national sentiment of Islamophobia.
Islam Awareness Week has three goals: to educate the community about the faith, to address misconceptions and, most importantly, to build stronger understanding, respect and tolerance through dialogue. Two of the most controversial topics that will be addressed this week are the role of women in Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The role of women in Islam is a highly debated topic in the West. The American media paints a negative portrayal of a woman’s position in Islam, with the common stereotype being that of someone who is submissive, uneducated and underrepresented. However, an astounding number of women convert to Islam each year compared to any other religion in the world.
To gain some insight into the true position of a woman in Islam, we invite you to Yvonne Ridley’s lecture ‘Behind Enemy Lines: The Story of a Taliban Captive.’ Ridley, a British journalist, was captured by the Taliban for 11 days, and released upon the condition that she would read the Qur’an.
Two years later, she converted to Islam and wrote a book, ‘Behind Enemy Lines,’ describing her experiences. She will be recounting her story this Tuesday at 8 p.m., in Doheny Beach CD in the Student Center. Ridley believes that the Qur’an is the ‘Magna Carta for women’ and that ‘oppression is cultural; it is not Islamic.’ Despite critics’ claims that Islam oppresses women, Ridley exemplifies the reality of a Muslim woman as a strong member of her society and the world.
Islam is grounded in the teachings and examples of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who is one of the most influential and controversial figures in history, inspiring millions to follow his message. It is vital for everyone to understand who he was and what he stood for, because the ramifications of his life are still felt today. Renowned Muslim scholar and speaker Khalid Yasin has studied Islamic sciences for over 15 years. He will be presenting the history and legacy of Muhammad (PBUH) this Thursday in a lecture titled ‘Muhammad Walks: The Truth Behind his Footsteps,’ at 6:30 p.m. in HSLH 100A.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was more than a religious figure