Middle East studies in the News
Islamic Society Hosts Interfaith Tea at Mosque [on Mustansir Mir]
About 80 people attended the 69th annual Interfaith Tea on Tuesday afternoon hosted for the first time by the Islamic Society of Greater Youngstown at Masjid Al-Khair mosque, 1670 Homewood Ave.
The tea promotes understanding among various religions, and the program fulfilled that goal by sharing some information on the faith.
Keynote speaker was Mustansir Mir, professor of Islamic studies and director of the Center for Islamic Studies in the department of philosophy and religious studies at Youngstown State University. He spoke on "Women in Islam; Rethinking the Issues."
Mir said the key word is "rethinking, which relates to a larger rethinking of issues in Islam that is going on."
But, he cautioned that "interpretation of religious text is extremely complex." He noted, "Scholars look at the foundation of religion and in the context of their times."
Islam provides a "code of life," Mir said. "It's principles of laws and rules to live by."
On the program for the tea, it noted that Islam is one of three major monotheistic religions of the world. Its Five Pillars are the foundation. They are: Shahadha, there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah; Salah, prayer is performed five times a day; Zakat, obligatory giving of alms to the poor and needy; Sawm, fasting from dawn to sunset during Ramadan; and Haji, pilgrimage to the Ka'Bah in Mecca at least once in a lifetime by Muslims who are able.
Mir said Islam directs that the treatment of women be "just, compassionate and humane." Those are standards expressed by other religions.
Islam speaks of equality, Mir said. "All humans are descended from one man and one woman, Adam and Eve."
Mir acknowledged that polygyny exists in the Muslim world but more monogamy is practiced. There is a casualness about polygyny.
"It is not mentioned with fanfare or ceremony," Mir said.
In Islam, Mir said, a woman's consent is essential to marriage. "The marriage contract reflects the woman's wishes," he said, adding she must agree or not to the husband having a second wife.
The speaker said if Muslim women banded together and all opted for monogamy, it would have legal leverage.
"No Koran text prohibits polygyny just as no text prohibits slavery," he said. Slavery, he said, did exist in the Muslim world but eventually it was phased out.
"The Koran expects people to use reason and their own common sense," Mir said.
In an informal setting, Nafees Ahmed, a retired physician and member of the mosque, spoke on attire. She said modesty is the guideline in both men's and women's clothing.
"Men should be covered from navel to knee and women from head to ankles," Ahmed said, adding clothes should not be form fitting but loose and not transparent.
Ahmed said there is more to modesty, though, than apparel. "You must be modest in how you act," she said.
She noted that men and women "are equal but not identical."
In response to a question about education, she said girls attend all-girl schools and college. Ahmed, who is from Pakistan, said she attended medical school 60 years ago.
Randa Shabayek, president of the executive council of the Islamic Society, welcomed the group. Tours were given of the mosque, where prayer is conducted at 1:30 p.m. Fridays. The mosque has a membership of 500 families from the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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