Age of Jahiliyah

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Islam Week: Misconceptions of Islam Speech

From the Yorker

Wednesday, 16th February 2011
After much controversy in the days up to his arrival, Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari delivered his speech ‘Misconceptions of Islam’ on Wednesday evening to a packed lecture hall of both students and the general public.

The evening was organised by York University Islam Society as part of Islam Awareness week. According to the society, the aim of the week has been to “create brotherhood and unity” and raise understanding of the Islam faith.

The speech was preceded by children handing out flowers and a recital of a blessing and praise to Allah from the Koran.

Al-Kawthari, who gives lectures regularly and spoke only last week at Manchester Met UCLAN, revealed this, his first visit to York, is the first time ever he has been greeted by controversy.

The scholar, who has studied Arabic and Islam all over the world and has 25 years of expertise in Islam finance, ethics and jurisprudence, began by hoping to dispel media propaganda and portray real Islam, saying “a human is an enemy of that which he/she is ignorant of”.

He rejected extremism and terrorism in Islam, stating the two meanings of ‘Islam’ are submission to God and peace. He added that Islam “promotes and encourages peace” between Muslims and non-Muslims and the Koran teaches Muslims to treat other faiths justly and live amicably in society.

Al-Kawthari said Islam contains “no compulsion, no force, no exertion” in trying to make people follow Islam and Muslims can interact with non-Muslims as long as it doesn’t affect them following Islam. Practicing religion well assures a good relationship with Allah and a good next life, he added.

Islam is “a complete way of life” he said, with laws everything from drinking, walking, talking and driving. It is a life a non-Muslim can not be expected to understand.

Al-Kawthari spoke also of Islam attitudes to human rights, including kindness to animals and trees, pointing out various similarities between Judaism and Islam.

He defended penal laws, some of which are seen as controversial and out-dated in Western countries, such as stoning and amputation, and insisted they are not always followed and must be taken to court and are only enforceable in Islamic States, which Britain is not.

He then moved on to laws about sex and marriage, about which he has written a book, stressing the importance of equal rights within a marriage, respect and consideration.

The evening ended with a question and answer session, which raised some controversial and challenging questions about homophobia and honour killings. Al-Kawthari argued that honour killings are a result of culture, not religion, and ended by hoping Islamaphobia will reduce, not only here at York, but across the country.

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