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Last week was Islamic Week at Lancaster University. Heralded as a big success by its organisers, a wide range of people turned up to the week’s many events, which sought to offer a better understanding of the religion.
President of the Islamic Society, Fayez Almari, was pleased with the success of the week saying that he “would like to thank everyone who attended, the speakers and the rest of the committee.”
The event, hosted by Lancaster University Islamic Society, consisted of five talks, one on each day. The talks were aimed at both helping people, both Muslim and Non-Muslim, gain a greater understanding of Islam.
Each evening opened with a short introduction from a member of the Islamic Society and a reading from the Qur’an. Then came the talk from the main speaker of the evening, which was followed by a question and answer session.
The topic of the first talk was ‘Is Islam a Violent Religion?’ This was given by Ajmal Masroor. Mr. Masroor is a member of the Muslim Council of Britain and an experienced broadcaster. He begin his talk by stating that, in the literal sense of the word “Islam means peace”. This was the general theme for his talk. He backed his opinion up with passages from the Qur’an and told the audience “there’s not a single verse in the Qur’an which condones violence”. He then went on to discuss Islamic terrorists saying that they are “barbaric” and have no place in a Muslim society.
Tuesday saw Hamza Tzortzis, an international lecturer and author, come to Lancaster to discuss the topic, ‘Does God Exist? An Islamic Perspective’. Mr. Tzortzis presented his two main arguments for belief in God’s existence. His first was a cosmological argument, saying that the start of the Universe had to have a cause. He argued that this cause could not be mechanical as “from nothing, nothing comes” and that the only other explanation was a divine one.
Mr Tzortzis’ second argument was based on the Qur’an. He said that the Qur’an was the “peek of eloquence” and the language devices it contained are both superior to the Arabic writings of the time and Arabic writings since. Because of this, the Qur’an was a “miracle in itself” and proof of God.
Wednesday night was the mosque open evening. This took place in the Islamic Prayer Rooms on South-East Drive. Participants were invited to look around followed by a curry dinner. There was also a short talk given by Bashar Takruri, a member of the University’s Islamic Society, on ‘Why Muslims Care about Palestine’.
The fourth talk of the week, was taken by Raana Bokhari. This lecture was on ‘Man-Made Women? Islam and Women’. Ms. Bokhari is a PhD student in Religious Studies at Lancaster. During the talk she described the debate amongst Qur’anic scholars about Islam woman; “Was women created for man?” She explained how many different meanings can be read into the Qur’an and how, in her view, many the verses relating to women’s rights are subject to interpretation. Ms. Bokhari then told the audience how the West’s view of the treatment of Islamic women was unjustified. She explained how Islamic women “are very visible in the pages of history” and that wearing the veil is a “choice not a compulsion”.
Concluding the week, was a lecture on ‘Islam and the West: Where’s the Problem?’ by Idris Tawfiq, a former Roman Catholic priest. Mr. Tawfiq expressed his opinion that relations between Islam and the West were currently quite bad, but “improving all the time”. He went on to suggest that the current generation of Islamic youth in the UK “needs leaders” to give them a strong peaceful identity in the modern world.