Islamic Awareness Week kicks off with interfaith discussion panel
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Balance and moderation — that was the main topic of Islamic Awareness Week's interfaith discussion panel Monday night.
Dozens of students gathered in the Hughes-Trigg commons to hear from religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
Amar Zeynu, a junior mechanical engineering student and executive board member of the Muslim Student Association, said the event was held to encourage conversation among people of all faiths.
"It's for us to get together, learn about each other, ask questions and clarify anything you want to know about the other faiths," Zeynu said.
A common theme could be found in the responses on balance and moderation. Each religious leader discussed how the essential truths of their religions stress the importance of balance and moderation. However, they all spoke of extremists within their religions whose actions go against the core values of their faiths.
"Balance and moderation is a challenge," Rabbi David Gruber said, describing extremist behavior he witnessed by some Jewish people in Israel.
Abdul Nasir Jangda, an Islamic Imam, said Muhammad teaches his followers to, "be very careful about being extreme in your religion."
Campus Pastor Jerret Sykes said some Christians are extreme in their hate and judgment of others. However, he says the Bible teaches, "to be extreme in how you pursue love."
Zahra Khan, a sophomore marketing and English major, said she learned a lot about the spectrum of views within each religion.
"The fact that there are so many different points of view was really interesting to me," she said.
Dr. Robert Hunt, the evening's moderator and director of Global Theological Education at SMU, posed the next question about how modesty relates to moderation.
Again, the three religious leaders shared a similar response of an overall presence of modesty — in appearance and in spirit — as a key aspect of their religions.
Next, audience members submitted questions with topics ranging from women's roles within each religion to the central hope of each faith.
The responses to many of the audiences' questions revealed some of the key differences across the three religions.
Khan said she believes it is important to understand these differences.
"To get along with other people, you need to understand their religion and where they are coming from," she said.
Zeynu said that is what Islamic Awareness Week is all about.
"The reason that we do this is because a lot of people really don't know what Muslims believe and they don't know what Islam stands for," he said.
This interfaith discussion was the first of many events that will be held this week. Other topics that will be addressed are Islam and art, Islam and the environment and Islam and the media.