A panel of Muslim and Christian students held an open discussion Wednesday evening on the core ideas of Islam and Christianity and the challenges faced by both faiths. The panel, organized by the Muslim Student Association and various Christian groups on campus, met at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center in what organizers hope to be the first of many more interfaith discussions.
The eight-person panel answered questions from the moderator Rachel Odgen as well as questions submitted by the audience. Although questions were aimed at representatives from both faiths, the largely Christian audience directed most of their question towards the Muslim representatives.
In describing the basic tenets of his faith, Muslim Student Association President Nabeel Ahmad stated that there were five pillars of Islam — faith, prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage to Mecca. In Islam, God is “no different to the God of the Jews and Christians,” Ahmad said, adding that Muslims consider Mohamed to be the last and final prophet of God.
Matt Kennedy, asked to describe the basic tenets of Christianity, said that the religion “centrally focused on the work of Jesus Christ.” Personal salvation, Kennedy said, was “solely based off the work of Jesus Christ.”
Questioned about how their respective religions related to other faiths, representatives of both groups emphasized mutual love and respect for another.
“Muslims are supposed to interact with all people regardless of faith,” said MSA Vice President Cristina Crivelli. Similarly, other panelists discussed how they were willing to speak to others about their faith, but were always mindful of listening and being respectful when their views did not agree.
Audience members asked Muslim students how the Islam they follow is different from the version of Islam ISIS follows. Mahdi Chaker said that ISIS was a grotesque form of Islam that represented more of a political movement than an adherence to what Islam teaches. According to Chaker, ISIS used Islam as a “costume” to try and justify their political objectives.
Similarly, Fanta Condé pointed out that ISIS violated many of the core principles of the Muslim faith.
“If you’ve killed one person, it’s as if you’ve killed all of mankind. If you’ve saved one person it’s as if you’ve saved all of mankind… harming other people in Islam is not okay,” Condé said.
Photo Credit: Penn State