By Melissa Riopka
13 May, 2012
Huntsville, AL -- On Thursday, May 17th, people representing a cross-culture of Madison County will come together to learn more about Islam. "Combating Islamophobia: Truths and Myths About Islam" is a community engagement workshop sponsored by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Department of Justice, UA-Huntsville, and the Huntsville Islamic Center, among others. Aladin Beshir, director of community outreach for the Huntsville Islamic Center, hopes the event will help build bridges in the community. "This is a very, very small step and a very focused and great grand scheme of cooperation among law enforcement and the Muslim community, sending the message that we are all united to protect America."
Beshir says there are many misconceptions about Islam that have arisen, in part, by people taking portions of the Quran out of context. He says, "Islam does not teach violence. People love to pick and choose," adding, "the Holy Quran states, one destroys one soul as if he killed the whole humanity, and one saves one soul as if he saves the whole humanity." When it comes to addressing myths about Muslims, Beshir says the media represents one of the biggest challenges because, "if you listen to the media, you will think they're under the bed and coming to get you!"
The number of Muslims living in Madison County may be small, but they represent 20 percent of the world population. Beshir says it only makes sense to learn more about this faith shared by millions of people. "What we believe in doesn't need to be agreed upon by everybody else, but it will help for the majority to know more about the minority," he says. Through greater knowledge, he hopes will come greater understanding and acceptance.
The Huntsville Islamic Center is also working toward that end with a monthly open house. On the first Saturday of each month, the public is invited to attend a free pot-luck dinner at the HIC, which is located at 1645 Sparkman Drive in Huntsville. Also, Aladin Beshir is available to speak to community groups and schools. He may be reached at (256) 479-7221. For those who would like to learn more about Islam, he recommends www.whyislam.com and www.islamtomorrow.com
As for "Combating Islamophobia: Truths and Myths about Islam," it will be presented from 5:30-8:00 p.m. Thursday, May 17th in Room 107 of the Shelby Science Center at UA-Huntsville. There is no charge and no registration.