Panel discussion at Appleton Library aims to shine light on Islam

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Topics: Islam Views: 3127

Kathy Flores, diversity coordinator with the city of Appleton's Office of Diversity, often cites a Maya Angelou quote during presentations: "When you know better, you do better."

Misinformation and ignorance, Flores said, were the culprits of hate crimes against Muslims during the summer.

So she joined forces with Terry Dawson, retired director of the Appleton Public Library, and Imam Mohamed Abdelazim, spiritual leader of the Appleton-based Islamic Center of Wisconsin, in an effort to get correct information in the local community's hands as a way to increase their understanding.

That's the intent of a special event, "Understanding Islam: A Message of Peace and Love," which will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Appleton Public Library, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Office of Diversity.

A panel of four Appleton Muslims - Aimen Khan, Joanna Jamil, Abbas Amin and Abdelazim - will share their experiences about what Islam means to them and discuss some of the myths that exist about their faith. They also will field questions from the audience.

"This panel of individuals all have very unique and different perspectives about Islam," Flores said.

Lahore, Pakistan native Khan, 20, a sophomore at Lawrence University, said people in the Fox Cities have been very interested in learning about his religion, and he has not faced any negativity. That's not the case for all Muslims in the area or, for that matter, those who are perceived to be Muslim.

"Some of my friends have been harassed though, and incidentally they are not even Muslims, just from the South Asian region," Khan said. "Some kids in the mall started shouting Allah-o-Akbar at them, which can be attributed to adolescence."

From his vantage point, Khan said the biggest myth portrayed about Islam is the one about Jihad.

"Jihad to many non-Muslims (and a large number of Muslims) is violent struggle," he said. "Jihad can also mean internal struggle; the struggle to bring out the good in you, to be a better person. A lot of Muslims out there believe in this kind of Jihad. It is sad that media portrayal has only emphasized politically charged violent struggle as Jihad."

Like many other religions, Islam has many different views and experiences that exist within its community, Flores said.

"We hope that this presentation Wednesday facilitated by the Office of Diversity and the Appleton Public Library will help all of us gain a better understanding of what life is like in Appleton for our Muslim neighbors," she said.

Abdelazim agreed: "I hope people of the Valley will have better understanding to Islam, and to be sure to verify any information they got from an authentic source," he said. "Also, I hope they will not believe everything the media says about Islam."

If you would like to go:What: "Understanding Islam: A Message of Peace and Love"

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Where: Appleton Public Library, 225 N. Oneida St., Appleton; reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made upon request, and if feasible.

Source: Post Crecent - Cheryl Anderson

  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
  Topics: Islam
Views: 3127

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