KALAMAZOO -- Islam does not promote terrorism, was the message delivered Friday by Western Michigan University's Muslim Students Association during a presentation on ``The Truth About Islam'' at the university's Bernhard Center.
It was a response to Tuesday's Miller Auditorium presentation by two self-proclaimed ex-terrorists.
The speakers at Tuesday's event, Kamal Saleem and Walid Shoebat, had a message of hate and racism, Friday's audience was told.
``They are trying to show that these (Muslims) who are living with them are someone you should hate,'' said Marwan Tabbara, adviser to the Muslim Students Association. ``As an institution, WMU should have not allowed this message'' to be spread in the university community.
Tabbara challenged the audience to find a passage in the Quran, the Islamic holy doctrine, which says people should commit acts of terror.
``This is an open challenge until the end of time,'' Tabbara said to a classroom-sized audience.
Tabbara explained some of the basic aspects of the religion, including the origins of the word Islam, a word meaning complete, and that one cannot be a scholar in Arabic holy texts without ``piety, knowledge and experience.''
Tabbara said many translations of the Quran can be misleading, and that it can only be read in its true form in Arabic.
``This book is comprehensive, meaning we have to take it as a whole,'' Tabbara said, holding a Quran.
He also explained that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had ``nothing to do with Islam,'' and that a jihad, or holy war started by Muslims on nonbelievers, is only acceptable in the Quran under self-defense or if a party is being oppressed, meaning not being allowed to practice their religion under state law.
``I don't feel oppressed'' in America, said Tabbara, who is from Lebanon but has lived in the United States for more than 20 years.
For Muslims living in the United States, Tabbara said, Islam makes it a sin to not abide by rules and laws in this country.
Allah is not a vengeful God but one who wants people to treat others better than how they themselves have been treated, Tabbara said.
``Allah loves people who excel in the way that they treat others,'' Tabbara said.
Posted March 14, 2009, Kalamazoo Gazette