Volume 96, Issue 71
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

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Learning about Islam

By Deanne Miachika
Gazette Writer

If you are anxious to understand the Islamic religion and dispel the myths that surround it, the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario will be holding a public service course on the Islamic religion.

According to Western dentistry professor Munir El-Kassem, this course is intended to educate people who are interested in learning about the Islamic religion. "The course is not intended to defend [the religion], but to explain it, as every religion has myths associated with it," El-Kassem stated.

"Anyone that has heard a lot about the faith, and not been able to understand the religion, [is welcome]," said Zina Atta, administrative assistant at the Islamic Centre.

The course is for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and will run for about eight weeks, she added.

The aftermath of Sept. 11 saw an increased ignorance of the religion of Muslims and their practices, said Nabil Sultan, president of the Muslim Students' Association.

Sultan said he believes the course to be very worthwhile and hopes it will express the true spirit of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance.

The course is destined to be a success, he added, noting the past efforts of El-Kassem have been extremely successful. "He is one of the leaders of the Muslim community in London [and has] an excellent perspective on the subject," Sultan said.

Khurran Khan, co-president of the Muslim Students' Association, said he also supports the efforts of El-Kassem. "[El-Kassem] represents the true Islamic understanding [and] anyone who comes will benefit," he said.

However, Khan is worried that people may not attend because they don't appreciate its relevancy. The distortion of the Islamic religion have always been prevalent, he said, adding this is an unfortunate reality of our society.

The only way to pull away from these distortions is through awareness and education, Khan said.

"A course like this will help shed ignorance," said Steve Bernier, a third-year economics student, noting he would be interested in attending such a course. "I would be very intrigued to hear a different perspective on the issue, aside from those portrayed by the media."

The course will be held at the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario, beginning Feb. 14 and running every other Friday after that from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at a cost of $35, El-Kassem said. Those interested in registering can contact the Islamic Centre at 668-2269.

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