On Wednesday, May 20 Bellevue College held an event “The Truth about Islam.” Master of Ceremonies Anas Elmesai, who is a student at Bellevue College, began the event with a reciting a prayer from the Quran. The purpose of this event was to increase awareness and understanding of Islam within the community at Bellevue College. Students of all nations, races, culture and ethnicity were welcome.
“When I moved to America I was hearing things about my religion that was the exact opposite of the teaching I was being taught as a young child, absolute contradiction,” said Elmesai, “I think it’s events like this that are absolutely critical for us to move forward as a society and civilization, knowledge is truly power.”
The event consisted of three speakers, the first was Alaa Bader, born in Egypt now living in Seattle, Bader is part of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound. Bader studied Islam in the U.S. at the American Open University.
During Bader’s presentation he went through various aspects of the religion. Bader touched on “The 5 Pillars of Islam” which include a testimony of faith “Shahada,” prayer “Salah,” charity “Zakat,” observance of Ramadan, and the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Zakat requires the people who have the means to give a portion of their savings to the poor.
Bader also spoke about the divine books which consist of the Torah, Zabur, Injeel and the Quran. He also taught about the common misconceptions that people have about Islam such as polygamy and how women are treated, as well as jihad, a term commonly associated with terrorism and often translated as holy war. Bader explained, “Holy war is not a Muslim concept, there is nothing in the Quran that says ‘holy war,’ Jihad is an Arabic word that means to struggle, to strive or to do ones utmost. Jihad is not about aggression.”
The last two speakers were Dr. Leslie Taylor and Quais Afzali. Taylor, who has a Ph.D. in biostatistics, spoke about her conversion from Catholicism to Islam. “The more I learned about Islam the more I felt like the answers to these fundamental questions I had about life and spirituality were simple, and precise and concise. It didn’t take a lot of hand waving and taking on faith which I liked. I like logic and I like evidence so these are things that really attracted me to Islam,” Taylor shared.
Quais Afzali, was born in Afghanistan but raised in the U.S. Afzali, born into a Muslim family, also shared his experience leaving Islam to be atheist but then returning to the faith. Afzali took scientific facts and showed where the 1,400 year old Quran discussed things that would not be discovered for centuries. Afzali explained how these passages brought him back to Islam, “the Quran must have been a revelation from God from the prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, because there is no way that 1,400 years ago they could have known what Keith Moore found out to be true about embryology and that’s crazy. The Quran talks about the big bang and the expansion of the universe and we just learned about these things less than 100 years ago.”
This was the first event of its kind put together by the Muslim Student Association. For more information about the club students are invited to attend meetings Wednesdays at 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. in room C211 and Fridays from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. in room A265.