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CSU student explains Islamic faith

 

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With the words and actions of many Americans that followed President Trump’s travel ban, it is evident that our society often misunderstands what it means to practice the Islamic faith.

Muhammad Hamza Ahmad, a junior at Colorado State University studying accounting and finance, worships at the Islamic Center here on campus and is passionate about educating people about what it really means to be Muslim. He showed me around the Islamic Center and taught me some basic facts about the Muslim faith.

We met outside of the mosque. As we entered, Ahmad told me that we needed to take off our shoes.

“We take off our shoes as a sign of respect and to keep the mosque clean,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad showed me around the mosque. There were classrooms where children learn the Quran and rooms for washing hands, mouths, nostrils, arms, heads and feet with water. This important purification practice is called Wudu, according to Ahmad.

Wudu. A ritual of purification in the Islamic faith.
This is where guys will cleanse themselves. This reminds them of cleanliness. This happens five times a day. Photo credit: Cory Bertelsen

 

Before we entered the room where prayers are offered, Ahmad showed me a large wooden donation box. According to Ahmad, giving is a big part of Islamic culture.

“Zakat is a form of charity,” Ahmad said. “It is one of the pillars of Islam, and all of the funds allocated in Zakat are given to the needy.”

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Ahmad said Zakat is used as a way to keep the flow of money equal in society.

“This is so the rich people do not become richer, and the poor people remain poor,” Ahmad said. “This is a way for them to get help.”

Mihrab in the Islamic Center
People pray in the direction of the Mihrab, the direction of Kaaba in Mecca. Photo credit: Cory Bertelsen

 

Ahmad said there are other charitable expenses in the mosque. For example, the Islamic Center is currently raising money for a new basement project.

According to Ahmad, during Ramadan, which is a month of fasting in the Islamic faith, people donate hundreds of thousands of dollars all over the world.

“Zakat happens on a personal basis,” Ahmad said. “No one is going to ask you whether you paid your Zakat this month. It is a matter between you and God.”

Once in the central room of the mosque, I saw a plushy red carpet and bookshelves of Qurans.

“This is where people offer their prayers five times a day,” Ahmad said. “When the prayer is offered, the Imam, a worship leader will stand alone and people will start forming lines behind him or her to fill up the room.”

According to Ahmad, the Imam is selected at the community level. Members of the community choose someone who is considered knowledgeable and wise.

untitled-1112.jpg
Qurans fill a bookshelf in the Islamic Center. Photo credit: Cory Bertelsen

 

Ahmad said that during prayers, everyone faces in the direction of the Kaaba, which is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

“We stand in forms of lines, shoulder to shoulder next to each other, we have to be shoulder to shoulder,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad said this demonstrates brotherhood and sisterhood.

“Basically, what God wants you to do is ask him for things,” Ahmad said. “After the prayer, you can ask anything from God. I need better grades. I need a car. I need a house. I need a wife. Whatever your needs are.”

Ahmad said praying helps him address problems in his life.

“One thing that is really good for me as a Muslim is to pray,” Ahmad said. “When I am stressed out or in a difficult situation, it calms me down and the problem gets solved.”

Muhammad Hamza Ahmad
Hamza in front of some flowers at a desk. Photo credit: Cory Bertelsen

 

Ahmad said Friday prayers are called Jummah, where the Imam stand on a short flight of steps called a minbar to offer the prayers.

“On Fridays, you can sit in any position,” Ahmad said. “You are relaxed and listening. The worship leader is basically telling you to do good deeds and to be a better human being and to stay away from sins.”

Examples of these good deeds could be acting more respectfully or being more truthful, anything that God asks, according to Ahmad.

Ahmad said Jummah is open to all people. Once this is done, the Khutba begins.

“The Khutba is in English because people come from all around the world,” Ahmad said. “Although, the prayers are offered in Arabic. Anyone is welcome; no one is going to judge you or ask what are you doing here.”

Ahmad said it is good for people to learn about the Islamic faith because there are many misconceptions about being a Muslim in America.

“One day I was asked if I was scared to live in Pakistan,” Ahmad said. “The person went on to ask, ‘Are you scared to be a Muslim with what is going on around the world?'”

Arabic on a Wall of the Mosque
The second floor is dedicated for women to offer their prayers. Photo credit: Cory Bertelsen

 

Ahmad said these misconceptions derive from other misconceptions about the Islamic faith.

“Some people think that Islam is a rude and pretty strict religion” Ahmad said. “People are generally scared of the religion, coming to a mosque and talking to Muslim people because of their religion.”

Ahmad said there are Colorado State University students from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, India and Pakistan that visit the mosque.

If you are curious about Islamic Center, Ahmad encourages you to learn more about it by asking a friend who may be familiar with the center to show you around, or by calling the Islamic Center and asking when a good time to come by would be.

Ahmad said there are many benefits to having the Islamic Center in Fort Collins.

“Coming to a mosque and being in a Muslim community is a beautiful thing,” Ahmad said. “No one judges you, asks you when you last came to a mosque; it is your thing with God.”

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Comments (8)

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  • E

    Emma PattisonFeb 20, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    It is extremely unrealistic to assume that an entire religion is violent and destructive based on the actions of a few. If we were to operate under that logic, then every person on earth is an aggressively, violent being. I commend Hamza for standing up for the larger Muslim population that truly practice the peaceful faith of Islam.

    Reply
  • M

    Menachem MevashirFeb 15, 2017 at 11:15 am

    As a Jewish convert to Christianity, I believe that Islam is a measure for measure consequence of the Jewish leaders rejecting Jesus in favor of a hoped for Davidic conquering king.

    Muhammad is very much like David: a warrior, prophet, poet, judge and king. He had a harem like David (although much smaller than Solomon’s).

    As I have been studying my Abdel Haleem translation of the Qur’an, I am struck by how much anger Muhammad has to the Jews who he says disobey God’s laws and live separately and arrogantly from Arabs.

    There were large Jewish communities in Arabia but they didn’t evangelize to Arabs and left the Mekkan people alone in their idolatry.

    Muhammad has great anger at what he perceives as Jewish arrogance and separateness and failure to confront Arab idolatry.

    Muhammad received the calling to do this and created a separate religion rather than join the Christians. He couldn’t join the Jews since they don’t evangelize and don’t encourage converts.

    So I believe that Muhammad came into the world as a rebuke to Jewish reluctance to spread the Torah message or to join the Christians spreading the Gospel.

    Muhammad was like a great old testament prophet.

    But he ignored and distorted the truth about Jesus Christ.

    Become a Muslim and subject yourself to Sharia Law by all means.

    It is the best way to make you yearn for the spiritual freedom of the Savior Jesus Christ!

    Reply
  • J

    Jacob StewartFeb 14, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I urge everyone to read this, as well as doing their own research regarding Islamic faith. Simply hearing from someone that they perceive a faith in one way does not mean you have the knowledge to hate speech against another religion. You could easily say things negatively regarding the christian faith and sub-religions that are involved with it. I believe this article is beautifully written and expresses something that isn’t always covered in fear of opposition because it is a faith driven topic. I COULD JUST AS EASILY TYPE IN A CAP-LOCKS AND SHOW HOW URGENT IT IS FOR YOU TO READ THIS MESSAGE AND GIVE MY OPPRESSIVE OPINION, but the truth is you need to read and understand things for yourself. This man put himself out there to teach you something, do not ignorantly backlash against him because you heard a thing from someone.

    Reply
  • Y

    Yellowman KingFeb 14, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Every muslim apologists begins with the same ‘Islam is misunderstood’ nonsense. They are unable to grasp that one can fully understand Islam and also reject it as the trash it is at the same time. It’s not that difficult my muslim friends, in fact it’s quite easy.

    Islam must always be rejected, never accepted just like cancer.

    Reply
  • M

    Menachem MevashirFeb 14, 2017 at 9:34 am

    i URGE ALL CSU STUDENTS NOT TO BE DECEIVED BY THE SWEET WORDS OF THIS ISLAMIC ACTIVIST!

    ISLAM IS A HARSH AND JUDGMENTAL FAITH. A MUSLIM FRIEND WHO IS A CSU GRAD STUDENT HAS TOLD ME THAT HE AND HIS FRIENDS CONSIDER AMERICA TO BE A WICKEDLY INIQUITOUS AND DEVIANT SOCIETY, TOTALLY UNDER THE POWER OF SATAN. MUSLIMS COME HERE TO GET A GOOD EDUCATION AND THEN TO TAKE THOSE SKILLS BACK HOME TO UNDERMINE OUR CULTURE. MUSLIMS HAVE ZERO RESPECT FOR NEO-AMERICAN PAGANISM.

    THEIR unHOLY BOOK THE QUR’AN SPEAKS IN THE HARSHEST TERMS ABOUT PEOPLE WITH NO DEFINED BELIEFS LIKE MOST CSU STUDENTS TODAY. IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME, PLEASE SEE THIS ONLINE VERSION OF THE QUR’AN, THAT IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH BY ENGLISH ISLAMIC SCHOLAR DR. M.A.S. ABDEL HALEEM:
    https://archive.org/details/TheQuranKoranenglishEbook-AbdelHaleem-BestTranslationInThe
    https://ia902701.us.archive.org/3/items/TheQuranKoranenglishEbook-AbdelHaleem-BestTranslationInThe/the_QURAN-abdel-haleem-ebook-english.pdf
    http://www.halalmonk.com/mas-abdel-haleem-the-language-of-the-quran
    https://www.amazon.com/Quran-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199535957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487017436&sr=1-1

    HOW A PAGAN CSU STUDENT CAN RECONCILE THE UGLY AND INTOLERANT LANGUAGE OF THE QUR’AN WITH HIS OR HER OWN SYSTEM OF RADICAL SKEPTICISM AND DISDAIN FOR RELIGION IS BEYOND ME. YOUR CHARITABLE ATTITUDE TO ISLAM CERTAINLY IS NOT ECHOED OR RECIPROCATED BY MUSLIMS THEMSELVES!

    ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS THAT AMERICANS ARE OPEN AND TOLERANT AND ASSUME OTHERS ARE AS WELL. ANOTHER PROBLEM IS THAT AMERICAN FEMALES ARE CURIOUS ABOUT FOREIGN MEN AND DON’T SEE THEM AS A THREAT BUT RATHER AS AN EXOTIC SOURCE OF NEW GENETIC INFORMATION AND SEXUAL COUPLING.

    PLEASE SEE THIS YOUTUBE TALK ABOUT WHY WOMEN GENERALLY ARE NOT ABLE TO DEFEND THEIR CULTURAL VALUES AGAINST OUTSIDE ASSAULTS:
    “Why Women DESTROY NATIONS * / CIVILIZATIONS – and other UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS”

    Reply
  • M

    Menachem MevashirFeb 14, 2017 at 9:31 am

    i URGE ALL CSU STUDENTS NOT TO BE DECEIVED BY THE SWEET WORDS OF THIS ISLAMIC ACTIVIST. ISLAM IS A HARSH AND JUDGEMENTAL FAITH. A MUSLIM FRIEND WHO IS A CSU GRAD STUDENT HAS TOLD ME THAT HE AND HIS FRIENDS CONSIDER AMERICA TO BE A WICKEDLY INIQUITOUS AND DEVIANT SOCIETY, TOTALLY UNDER THE POWER OF SATAN. MUSLIMS COME HERE TO GET A GOOD EDUCATION AND THEN TO TAKE THOSE SKILLS BACK HOME TO UNDERMINE OUR CULTURE. MUSLIMS HAVE ZERO RESPECT FOR NEO-AMERICAN PAGANISM. THEIR HOLY BOOK THE QUR’AN SPEAKS IN THE HARSHEST TERMS ABOUT PEOPLE WITH NO DEFINED BELIEFS LIKE MOST CSU STUDENTS TODAY.

    IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE ME, PLEASE SEE THIS ONLINE VERSION OF THE QUR’AN, THAT IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH BY ENGLISH SCHOLAR MAS ABDEL HALEEM:
    https://archive.org/details/TheQuranKoranenglishEbook-AbdelHaleem-BestTranslationInThe
    https://ia902701.us.archive.org/3/items/TheQuranKoranenglishEbook-AbdelHaleem-BestTranslationInThe/the_QURAN-abdel-haleem-ebook-english.pdf
    http://www.halalmonk.com/mas-abdel-haleem-the-language-of-the-quran
    https://www.amazon.com/Quran-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199535957/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487017436&sr=1-1

    HOW A PAGAN CSU STUDENT CAN RECONCILE THE UGLY AND INTOLERANT LANGUAGE OF THE QUR’AN WITH HIS OR HER OWN SYSTEM OF RADICAL SKEPTICISM AND DISDAIN FOR RELIGION IS BEYOND ME. YOUR CHARITABLE ATTITUDE TO ISLAM CERTAINLY IS NOT ECHOED OR RECIPROCATED BY MUSLIMS THEMSELVES!

    ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS THAT AMERICANS ARE OPEN AND TOLERANT AND ASSUME OTHERS ARE AS WELL. ANOTHER PROBLEM IS THAT AMERICAN FEMALES ARE CURIOUS ABOUT FOREIGN MEN AND DON’T SEE THEM AS A THREAT BUT RATHER AS AN EXOTIC SOURCE OF NEW GENETIC INFORMATION AND SEXUAL COUPLING.

    PLEASE SEE THIS YOUTUBE TALK ABOUT WHY WOMEN GENERALLY ARE NOT ABLE TO DEFEND THEIR CULTURAL VALUES AGAINST OUTSIDE ASSAULTS:

    Reply