By Eric Garza
On May 20th, the Muslim Student Association, also known as the MSA, held their 4th annual Islamic Culture Day in the Multipurpose Room in efforts to bring awareness to students about the common misconceptions about Muslims. Refreshments were available for those that attended which included pizza and water.
“The purpose of these events is to end misconceptions people have developed about Islam through the means of the media and to encourage interfaith dialogue,” said Maryam Ali, the president of MSA.
MSA brought in four guest speakers to talk about the Islamic world. Three of the speakers are from the Islamic center here in Bakersfield, which were Emad Meerza, Mohammed Aldurah, and Heba Hyder. The fourth guest speaker was sociology professor Dr. Rhonda Dugan.
Meerza, a Kuwati born Islamic educator, commenced the panel by talking about the origins of Islam and what it meant to them. Prior to what he was about to say, he opened by saying a prayer in Arabic. He focused on where does the word “Islam” come from and explained that it means to “submit to God.” He would ask about how other people would say the word submit in their languages and responded by saying that Islam means to submit in Arabic.
Meerza asked the attendants whether any of those participated in hunting for sports. He responded by saying that recreational hunting is prohibited under Islam. There is a set of rules that is explained in the Quran that sets the both animal and human rights. If anyone were to hunt, they are to make of good use to it or give to those who are needed.
The second speaker was Mohammed Aldurah. Aldurah is originally from Yemen, but moved to the US in the late 1990s. Aldurah brought forth the topic of marriage among Muslims and broke down the stereotypes most non-Muslims perceived.
For one, Aldurah mentioned that there is equal rights between a man and woman in marriage. The idea of arranged marriage is true, but it is not forced like many would think. Women do have the right to reject the person they were arranged to marry and fathers of the women are not allowed to force to do so. To be married is considered to be the one of the highest honors.
Switching gears, Heba Hyder would speak about the common stereotypes in Muslim women including if they should have an education. She started by saying that when Mohammed was meditating in a sacred cave, one of the first words of Islam was spoken to him and it was “read.” By taking into context, Hyder said, there was no gender bias into what was shouted. Hyder would go one speaking about how in the beginning women were very active in the teachings of Islam.
Lastly, Dr. Dugan, of the sociology department, spoke on what it meant to define culture and whether it is influenced from people’s faith and religion.