Volume 95, Issue 45
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
UWO Muslims celebrate Ramadan
Lectures help raise awareness
By Erin Conway-Smith
Prayer, fasting and other principles of Islam were explained yesterday in the University Community Centre atrium as part of Islam awareness week, held during the month of Ramadan.
"One fifth of the world's population is Muslim," said speaker Khurram Khan, president of the Muslim Students' Association.
It is important for people to have a basic understanding of such a large group in society, he said.
Khan explained that during the 30 days of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking between dawn and sunset.
Other behaviour avoided during Ramadan includes smoking, swearing and sexual intercourse, he said.
"Fasting is about getting closer to God," Khan said. "It's an act of discipline. It gives you strength and courage from conquering your own desire to eat and drink. If you can conquer that, is there anything you can't conquer?
"We came from God and we will return to God that is a basic principle in Islam. Therefore, with every action we do, we should be preparing to meet the creator," he said.
Khan also discussed the importance of prayer.
Muslims pray five times a day, he said, adding it doesn't take long only about two to three minutes each time. "It takes longer to smoke a cigarette," he said.
Prayer makes people put the rest of the world aside for awhile. "I need to establish my connection with my creator," Khan said.
The times of daily prayer are based on the rotation of the sun around the earth, he said. The month of Ramadan changes each year based on the lunar calendar.
"We live in a society where we control everything we're totally disconnected with nature. The time of prayer and Ramadan change with the cycles of nature," he said.
"Muslims believe to follow Islam is to follow the natural way. We are aware of the cycles of nature and the beauty around us," he said.
Other events during Islam awareness week include a question and answer session on the subject of women in Islam at 12:30 p.m. today in the UCC atrium, a Muslim prayer room open house today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in University College room 214 and a lecture tomorrow, entitled "Jihad: Struggle or holy war?," at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the McKellar Room.
"In the wake of the unfortunate events in the U.S. there has been a renewed interest in finding out what Islam is," said Eman Loubani, one of two MSA Islam awareness week commissioners.
Loubani said everyone who has approached the Islam information displays have been positive and understanding. "There has been a lot of interest," she added.
The displays about Islam were very informative, said Jeremy Chambers, a first-year history student, who said he had been studying Islam on and off for a couple of years.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001