Today: Jul 17, 2024

Misconceptions of Muslim religion discussed in presentation

photo courtesy southernct.eduCHRISTIAN CARRION — Staff Writer

All terrorists are not Muslim, but all Muslims are terrorists.
The Muslim faith teaches hatred, violence and oppression of women.
The Muslim way of life is a threat to America.
Saifuddin Hasaan, host of “Glimpse of Islam” on local television station CTV, said during his lecture in the Engleman Hall Seminar Center Nov. 16 that there are cottage industries around the world that maliciously spread these kinds of thoughts and ideas.
“There is a large group of people in the world who get up every morning like you and I do and their job is to distort Islam,” Hasaan said. “Their job is to create an atmosphere of hatred, intolerance, and bigotry against Muslims.”
Hasaan spoke to Southern students as part of a program sponsored by the Muslim Students’ Association and the Multicultural Center entitled “Are Muslims a Threat to America?”
The program sought to both answer questions and dispel some common misconceptions about Islam.
A host on Yale’s WYBCX online radio station, Hasaan told the story of how he came to accept Islam as his religion.
“When I was in college,” Hasaan said, “I was partying, getting drunk and skipping classes. I was put on probation, something my mother doesn’t know to this day. My brother had accepted Islam in 1975 and he had been pushing me to join him for years, but I wasn’t trying to hear that.”
Hasaan said one day in 1980, he decided not to skip one class.
In that class, the professor assigned a piece of literature that Hasaan said changed his life forever: the autobiography of Malcolm X.

Photo courtesy Christian Carrion
Hasaan is a television and online radio show host.

“Honestly, I think this book should be required for every person in America to read,” Hasaan said. “It shows you the evolution of a man from drugs and alcohol, to racism, to brotherhood. When I read that last chapter, where he talked about going to Mecca and seeing people of all colors
come together and worship, that inspired me.”
Hasaan said when he went to his first Islamic service later that year, the experience he had further fueled his inspiration to join the religion.
“After the service,” said Hasaan, “I went around and asked everybody where they were from, and everyone was from a different place. Africa, Indonesia, Albania, Asia, the Middle East. I was astounded.”
In the following years, Hasaan’s understanding and following of the tenets of Islam led him to become a minister at Masjid-Al-Islam, an Islamic mosque in downtown New Haven. Hasaan said the influence of the mosque and of Islam, could be felt throughout the neighborhood.
“When we first arrived,” Hasaan said, “the neighborhood was the biggest dealership of marijuana in New Haven. After a few weeks, the dealers were three blocks up the street. They must have heard, ‘Oh, those Muslims are coming!’ And we told them they can’t be doing that on the street. We have to preserve our intellect as a people. That’s one of the things Islam is about.”
Preserving intellect, preserving family, praying regularly, the right to life—these are all parts of Sharia Law, the moral code of Islam found in the Qu’ran, the holy book of Islam.
According to Hasaan, the concepts of Sharia have been mangled by the post 9/11 press, creating an air of ignorance about this religion that promotes peace and tolerance, not radical extremism and violence.
“One of the cardinal rules of Islam,” Hasaan said, “is that you cannot accept Islam by force. Our religion is portrayed in the media mostly by all these images of extremists. You know, terrorists with swords on the necks of the infidels. ‘If you’re not Muslim, we kill you.’ That’s not Islam. The Ku Klux Klan used to burn crosses in the name of Christianity. Is that representative of Christianity?”
Justin Philips, 21, attended Hasaan’s lecture. Coming from a family with Muslim heritage, Philips said he was pleased to hear some truths about Islam.
“It was really nice to find out more about Islam, since I was never really taught too much about it,” Philips, a junior majoring in physics, said. “The little bit I know, I learned from observation. My grandmother was a follower.”
Philips also said he was pleased with the way the information in the lecture was presented.
“I thought [Hasaan] was a great presenter,” Philips said. “The whole presentation was very informative.
I agreed with a lot of what he said about Islam in the media. I was sort of glad to find out that a lot of what I had previously heard wasn’t true.”
Dian Brown-Albert, coordinator of multicultural events for Student Affairs, was also pleased with Hasaan’s presentation.
“We’re honored to have him come and speak to us about his faith,” Albert said. “The feedback we’ve gotten is greatly appreciated, too.”
Hasaan said he hopes the students who heard him speak will go forth with a more open mind, and the knowledge that not everything broadcasted on TV is true.
“As the Qu’ran states,” Hasaan said, “there is no compulsion in religion.
We believe that everybody has the right to faith. What is reported in the media about Islam, though, is the direct opposite of what we believe in.”
Hasaan said Islam is about freedom, choice, balance, and justice.
“We want to build prosperous societies,” said Hasaan. “If you have listened to what I have said, you’ll know that Islam is about peace and justice, and I’ll tell you right now, you won’t hear that on the news.”

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