Campus comes together for teach-in

· Sep 20, 2001 Tweet

Several hundred students, faculty and community members gathered on the UW-Madison campus Wednesday night for a teach-in on the principals of the Islamic religion.

The teach-in, featuring a thirteen-person panel of UW faculty and members of the local Muslim community, was called in response to last week’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Ahmed Ali, president of the Islamic Community of the Madison Area, said violence is not a tenet of the Islamic religion.

“It is a very enlightened religion that believes that all humans are alike, should live together in peace and be harmonious,” Ali said. “It never preaches any violent activities or terrorist tendencies. We are often portrayed as people out to win a holy war, but that is totally against our belief.”

After U.S. officials declared Osama bin Laden, an Islamic extremist, the prime suspect of the terrorist attacks, violent backlash against many Muslims has spread across the nation.

The panel attempted to explain the many factions of the religion and deny that it was the Islamic faith that drove the attacks.

Charles Hirschkind, assistant professor of anthropology and religious studies, said it is impractical to lump the 1.2 billion Muslims, many of whom adhere to different interpretations of Islamic law, together.

“This vast heterogenity rules out the judgement that the attack represents something inherent in Islam,” Hirschkind said. “It is equally important that one not rush into retaliation or military action.”

Speakers urged the audience to keep an open mind toward the Muslim community in light of the recent media spotlight on the religion.

“The notion of what it means to be a Muslim varies from place to place,” said Uli Schamiloglu, professor of South Asian and Middle Eastern studies. “The idea that all Muslims are the same around the world is completely false and completely misleading.”

Mary Layoun, professor of comparative literature and Middle Eastern studies, said it is wrong to blame the Islamic religion for last week’s attacks.

Layoun said Islam is no more at the root of last Tuesday’s attack than Christianity is at the root of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Dr. Umar Farooq, a scholar of Islam in America, promoted the quest for peace.

“Today we must wage peace,” Farooq said. “We must create the conditions of peace for all people. Terrorism has no denomination. Terrorists have no religion; they have agendas.”

Farooq will discuss the relationship between Islam and terrorism at a lecture sponsored by various campus organizations (including the Muslim Students Association) Friday at 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union.


This article was published Sep 20, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Sep 20, 2001 at 12:00 am


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