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Students and faculty GUEST COLUMN Sam Kanaan

Islam Explained Ol ihc many religions of ihe world, Islam is ihc mosl misuntlcrslood and lhal is partly due lo lis misrcprcscnlalion. There are few sources lhal iruly explain Ihe teachings of Islam and clarify ihe misconceptions surrounding il. Islam is essentially a combination of all previous religions, which means that a believer in Islam (a Muslim) also believes in Christianity and Judaism togelher with oiher religions. I was horn in Jordan and have roots and family in Palestine which happens to be where Jesus was born. I grew up in a house of tolerance where minds were open to all ideas. Keeping an open mi nd and looking at different opinions has always been a trend in the family. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are monotheistic; meaning thai they follow the doctrine or belief lhal there is only one God. Islam calls lhal one and same God "Allah." for which ihe literal translation is "The God." These three religions differ in the way their followers worship God-and"get close to him. The same thing applies lo Christianity, except there is a priest instead of a Rabbi. In Islam, a Muslim has a direel relationship with God. Muslims pray directly to him without ihe help or aid of anyone. That 1 s why I can practice all aspects of Islam here at Hope. We have a Mosque (Islamic Church), but are nol obligated to go for prayer: Muslims d o not need any special place lo conduct iheir prayers. In addition, Islam teaches the same code of ethics as Chrisiianily and Judaism. I share almost entirely the same ethics and principles with the

people here. The teachings of those three religions are very similar and I have no problem getting along with everyone, especially my dorm friends, since we all share the same set of morals. As a Muslim, I revere all the messengers of God from Moses to Jesus to Muhammed. I believe in Jesus just as I believe in Moses or Muhammed. Contrary to what some Westerners believe, M u h a m m e d is nol worshipped by Muslims. He spread the word of God, which Muslims believe was revealed to him from God through the Archangel Gabriel. All Muslims pray to the one and same God that Christians and Jews pray to. Islam has five pillars on which it rests. In other words, Islam has five basic beliefs which every Muslim must adhere to. They are: I: Absolute belief in one God and that Muhammed is his messenger. 2 : Prayer five times a day. 3: Fasting (abstaining from food, drink and worldly pleasures) during ihe holy month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. 4: Giving alms to the needy. 5 : The performance of pilgrimage to Mecca in one's lifetime if one can. Mecca is the city where Muslims believe Abraham buill the first ever house of worship. The word "Islam" is an Arabic word lhal means "Peace and Submission to G o d ' s will." We pray and do what is asked of us and refrain from prohibited deeds, while believing thai God is always there, that his mercy and forgiveness includes all creatures, and lhal his will includes all things.

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diversity on campus. The number of minority students, faculty, and staff members have been closely examined each year and Hope has made efforts to increase cultural awareness on campus. But discussion of diversity at Hope, a c o l l e g e run within the "context of the historic Christian faith," (according to Hope's mission statement) can become more easily debated when it comes to religious diversity. "If we accept a student into the college, we accept responsibility for all of that person," said Boyd Wilson, professor of religion. "Including his/her religious and spiritual needs." Many international students, who come to Hope with a religious background vastly different from the Christian majority, experience the reality of being a religious minority. "I don't really talk to anybody about my religious beliefs," Rupesinjhe said. "I never tell anyone, unless they ask me if I am (Buddhist). But if they ask about my beliefs, I will tell them." The campus continues to debate and d i s c u s s how C h r i s t i a n s on campus should inleract with those of other faiths. These questions are often raised in connection with world religion classes. "These are questions I ask every day," Wilson said, w h o teaches H o p e ' s w o r l d religion c l a s s e s . "What is the Christian attitude toward the faithful other? This goes back to the issue of pluralism. Do these other religions have no validity? And do we have something

discuss religious

"Mosl people at Hope are very important to learn from them? Do n a r r o w - m i n d e d — it's good for they have something important to people to know why people believe learn from us?" what they do," Hussein said. "I recWario Hussein ('00), an internaommend everyone take a world retional student from Kenya, grew up ligions class, or read some books. in a Muslim family, but was conYou can't condemn someone when verted to Christianity in Kenya apyou d o n ' l understand (their beproximately 10 years ago. liefs)." The area Hussein comes from is Hussein a l s o e m p h a s i z e d ihe approximately 99.9 percent Muspoint that many Christians are nol lim. He has had experiences as both even fully aware of their own bea religious minority and majority, liefs. "I believe that Jesus is the only "If you feel that what you believe way to heaven," Hussein said. "But is right, how I didn't becan you even comc a O n this campus, other religious try lo talk lo Christian others if you as a result beliefs are not accepted, they d o n ' l really of a n y o n e are hesitantly tolerated. understand convinc—Josh Spalsbury ('02) C h r i s t i a n i t y ing me to be a Christian. No one really preached to me." Hussein explained his conversion experience as something that happened slowly over a year. His family was not supportive of his decision, lo the point where his life was threatened. "They tried to c o n v e r t me by force and magic, and tried to poison my food. I lived with a foster family for five years," he said. Hussein h a s since r e c o n c i l e d many issues with his family. "Now we are good friends. The things they did to m e w e r e nol wrong a c c o r d i n g to their world view," he said. Hussein believes Christian students need to be fully aware of other individual's beliefs, before trying to force their own beliefs upon them.

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"I think everyone should be given their own choice lo decide what religion they are regardless of the school's affiliation. I think the c a m p u s is pretty diverse 'Christian-wise,' but il would be nice to have other religions." —Lisa Arnsdorf ('03)


and w h a t il m e a n s , " he said. Religious diversity also includes those who are atheist or agnostic. "On this campus, other religious beliefs are nol accepted, they are hesitantly t o l e r a t e d , " said Josh Spalsbury ('02), an agnostic student. Spalsbury chose Hope College for its strong academics and a generous scholarship. He was aware of Hope's religious atmosphere before deciding lo come. "I have no regrets. 1 wouldn't w a n t l o be a n y w h e r e e l s e , " Spalsbury said. "There have been a few instances in which I have been told I am going to Hell. But for the mosl part, people will at least pretend to listen to what I am saying while thinking of their next evangelistic articulation."


Hope has focused on diversifying the campus in recent years. Should this include religious diversity?

"Yes, if they're going lo diversify the campus, they have lo diversify il in every way, whelhcr it's race or religion, and be accepting to all." —Ryan G a l l a s ( ' O I )

• Dorian Sorority • Arcadian Fraternity • Sibylline Sorority


• Sigma Sorority • Matt Parker from the Knickerbocker fraternity for driving the tractor! • VanderProv

"Il doesn't matter, because it's each s t u d e n t ' s c h o i c e what they want lo do." —Corey Adonitis (.'03)

"I don'l think so. I think the fact that this school is associated with the R.C.A. is something we should be proud of. Not lo say that the school shouldn't offer other viewpoints, but they don'l need to actively present different religious views." —Justin Savara ('01)

"Yes, it is important when they recruit p e o p l e f r o m d i f f e r e n t countries, lo realize that these people will also have different religions, so they should try lo cater to them here." —Gabi M a s h a b a ( ' O I )