Students Learn Islamic Culture
By Christopher Norman*


Speaker Sheikh Omar Balouch held an open forum for Muslims and non-Muslims Thursday night in the Holmes Student Center’s Heritage Room

This week is Islam Awareness Week. The Muslim Student Association hosted an open forum between Muslims and non-Muslims Thursday night in the Holmes Student Center's Heritage Room. The forum was meant to be a way to learn, grow and diversify people's understanding of Islam.
Those in attendance were given a Web book about Islam as well as an English translation of the Qur’an.
Sheikh Omar Balouch guided the discussion.
The forum began with "How can you make a distinction between Islam as a religion and as a culture?"
Balouch said a majority of Muslims are not Arabs. There are more than 10 million Muslims in China.
He said in the Qur’an, "God created us as different so we would know one another. He creates diversity in everything."
The next question was how women are treated in Islamic culture.
"In terms of their everyday respect they are treated with more respect." Balouch said. It is the difference in cultural values where a problem can be seen, he said. "A Muslim woman is not worried about voting, they are worried about getting food for the day."
One of the "hot issues" Balouch wanted to discuss was why Muslim women cover themselves.
"Why do Muslim women cover themselves? Does it look like this is oppressing women? Do not nuns cover themselves? We don't have priests in Islam. Every woman should be like Mary," Balouch said.
The forum also discussed recent issues in the media. One of the attendees asked why it is wrong to depict Mohammed.
"It is not correct for a Muslim to draw Mohammed, there is no rule against a non-Muslim from depicting him." Balouch answered.
He said there were many peaceful demonstrations against the cartoons, but peaceful demonstrations never make the headlines.
"The freedom of speech includes the right to be offended." Balouch said.
*Campus Reporter • cnorman@northernstar.info


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