Multi-Faith Discussion Panel – Islamic Perspective
Post by Munif Jaafar MBA 2014
Al salamu 3alakom to all. Al salamu 3alakom is translated to “peace and blessings be upon you” and is a very popular greeting amongst all Muslims, both Arab and non-Arab. Yesterday, March 4th, the Glavin Chapel hosted a Multi-Faith discussion panel, which was comprised of representatives from major world dominations/religions. This included Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Protestantism, Mormonism, Islam, and Catholicism. I was the speaker representative for Islam.
All of us talked about the fundamentals and basics of our respective faiths, workaround in the workplace as a result of certain acts required per our faith, as well as relaying a quote about unity. For Islam, I discussed how Islam was founded in 610 AD in Hira, Saudi Arabia by Prophet Mohammad, which then brought about Islam’ holy book, the Quran. I also talked about how the Sunni sect represents ~90% of the population, while the Shia sect represents ~10% of the population, as well as how Islam is the second and fastest growing religion, adhered to by 23% of the world’s population. I further talked about how only 15% of all Muslims speak Arabic as their native tongue, and that 62% of Muslims live in Asia, primarily Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan. I further spoke about the five pillars of Islam: fasting (during Ramadan), zakat (donating 2.5% of your wealth), prayers (5x a day), shahada (proclaiming God’s oneness and that Prophet Mohammad is His messenger), and Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
In terms of the workarounds in the workplace, I first spoke about how I simply fast between sunrise and sunset with no food and water during the holy month of Ramadan. I also spoke about how I simply refrain from alcohol, ham, bacon, and anything with gelatin, given that alcohol and pork are prohibited in Islam. For my unity quote, I picked the last sermon delivered by Prophet Mohammad, which is “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action…”. I specifically chose this quote as this emphasizes that there is no room for racism, discrimination, and animosity amongst all of God’s creation, and that it truly is about how pure you heart and intentions are at the end of the day that makes one individual different than another.
The overall experience for me can be described in three words: pleasing, satisfying, and welcoming. It was pleasing in getting to know about individuals of other faiths that are open to speaking about their own views. It was satisfying seeing a small audience turnout that asked great questions, including how one would react if he encountered a situation with someone who brought up a point that was completely against one’s own religion. Lastly, it was welcoming that at the end of the day, everyone at the Glavin Chapel opened up their hearts to one another and was receiving of each other’s opinions.
I thoroughly had a great time, and I sincerely give my gratitude to God for giving me the opportunity to have represented Islam and learn about other faiths.