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Tuesday, 13 June 2017 13:09

Understanding Islam event held at Columbia Museum

More than 150 people attended "Dinner and Dialogue: Understanding Islam," a presentation by the Columbia Museum of Art that included a panel discussion about the Muslim religion


With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan under way, the museum hosted an event called “Dinner and Dialogue: Understanding Islam.” It began with a panel discussion featuring Dr Akif Aydin of the Atlantic Institute Columbia, Imam Omar Shaheed of Columbia’s Masjid as-Salaam, and Dr Noah Gardiner, a University of South Carolina assistant professor of religion specializing in Islamic thought and culture.

“We do not worship Muhammad,” said Shaheed, a former Christian who converted to Islam as an adult. “We worship Allah, the one God, and Allah is the God for all people. We pray like you pray.”

As Imam Omar Shaheed looked out at the 150 people who packed the Columbia Museum of Art’s auditorium Sunday night, he was struck by one thing.

“We’re all different religions, but we have a humanity,” he said. “That’s really standing out.”

Shaheed, imam at Masjid as-Salaam in Columbia, was part of the panel at “Dinner and Dialogue: Understanding Islam.” The discussion that was part of the event answered questions about the tenets of Islam, the most common misconceptions about the religion and the similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

“Islam is one of the most misunderstood religions in South Carolina – or one of the least understood,” said Akif Aydin, president of the South Carolina-based Atlantic Institute, which seeks to foster interfaith dialogue and promote understanding of different religions.

Aydin said the mention of Islam or Muslims in the United States often connotes imagery of terrorism or radicalism. “Terrorists hijacked the identity of the Muslims,” he said. “They hijacked the identity of Islam.”

Shaheed drew similarities to the ways, he said, the Christian religion was hijacked by the American Christian Knights, a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He added that suicide goes against the beliefs of Islam.

Sunday’s event was put on to address misconceptions about the Islamic religion, according to Glenna Barlow, manager of engagement for the museum. A dinner after the discussion included cuisine from around the Islamic world.

“We thought it was important to differentiate between radical Islam and the majority of peaceful, devout Muslims around the world,” she said.
Melissa Chappell and Kristi Meetze came from Newberry County to the event Sunday.

Meetze, 44, was surprised by the similarities between Christianity and Islam, and said events like “Dinner and Dialogue” are important for education.

“To let everybody know that what you see on the news is not the whole story,” she said.

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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