Islamic Society

Islam is built upon the five pillars of faith, which are: Tauhid -oneness of God, Salah – praying 5 times a day, fasting during Ramadan, Hajj – Pilgrimage to Meccaa, and Zakat – Charity from earned wealth.

We talked to President Muhammad Ahmad Qadri about Islam and its association with terrorism in a post 9/11 world. He says that he has always been made to feel welcome on Warwick campus by students with other beliefs. His faith means that he and other Muslim students do not drink alcohol, cannot consmume pork and only eat halal meat. In spite of the fact that these practices affect the social decisions he makes, he insists that he has never felt socially isolated from non-Muslims, ‘I understand that pubs and clubs form a big part of British culture, but Muslims don’t go to such places because if we do we will be tested. Subsequently we do have to change the ways we socialise but this does not mean we are separate from other students as there are many Muslims who have non-Muslim friends. We make these friends in alternative ways and learn new things along the way. It is important to remember that other cultures can learn from one another.’

Muhammad talked about discrimination towards Islam but showed no resentment towards others who display a wariness towards Muslims, describing instances of discrimination as an opportunity to show others what Islam is truly about. We discussed the main misconceptions held of Islam. Although it is widely thought that the Muslim faith is only widely practised in the Middle East, in reality huge numbers of Muslims come from other parts of the world. He says, ‘As a faith we cherish diversity and we are lucky enough in Warwick to be part of a diverse society, which means we can reach out to a variety of social groups and address the misconceptions some people have of Islam.’

Another misconception of Islam is that Muslims have a hatred for non-Muslims; in fact they believe that all creations are sacred and it is against any doctrine in Islam to harm another human being. Muhammad says, ‘Such a misconceived idea perhaps stems from some non-Muslims not wanting to understand or having the urge to uncover the truth. Some also believe that in order to be a Muslim we must adopt a very rigid lifestyle when in fact it is relatively flexible; we just simply believe that our creator knows better than us how we should live our lives.’

Of late Islam has been associated with terrorism and Muhammad described this as a failure on Muslims part to effectively explain what Islam really is, as well as a failure on the part of non-Muslims to dig deeper into the Islamic faith. He pointed out that Islam is against the taking of innocent lives and collateral damage, ‘Moreover those who believe that Islam is associated with terrorism ignore the fact that historically non-Muslims have come to Muslims for protection. Those who are extremists are simply taking verses of the Koran out of context and incorrectly brainwashing individuals, thus creating a negative picture of Islam. Some people are also of the belief that Islam has a negative effect on the rights of women, yet it is actually the case that Islam is a pragmatic religion. We understand that people have certain desires and we do not want women to be degraded by these desires. Therefore women wear certain garments to conceal their beauty and men are asked to lower their gaze and to guide their modesty in order to achieve greater purity. As a result women wear their attire with honour as they understand it to be a gift.’

### Vitals

– **President:** Muhammad Ahmad Qadri

– **Membership:** The society is made up of 140 members, but regularly caters for more than 250 practising Muslims from various countries including Jamaica, Kenya, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

– **Events:** The society makes good use of the prayer hall on campus by holding Friday prayers every week of the year. These weekly prayer meetings are usually attended by more than 300 people, many of whom are members of staff. The Islamic society also organises wide variety of events, which includes talks and social events, of which their most prominent is Islamic Awareness Week. All these events aim to establish an awareness of inter faith relations whilst providing Muslims with a family away from home. The society is also part of the UK wide
project ‘Islamic Relief’, which offers relief in places like Somalia, Kenya and the Middle East, by helping out in orphanages and schools, for example. The project managed to raise £180,000 in 2007 and £230000 in 2008.

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