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Understanding Islam: Introductory Course
September 25, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm$65
A Muslim Woman’s Perspective on the Essence of Islam, the Diversity of the Muslim World, and its Relationship with the West
Instructor: HAYAT IMAM
Fall 2019: 4 Sessions
Wednesdays: September 25, October 2, 16, and 30
7:00 to 9:00 pm
Location: Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church, 1555 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138 (near Harvard Law School)
Course Fee: $65 payable at first session ($10 for student/low income). Register online. Maximum 25 participants. The course is likely to be oversubscribed, so sign up early.
By some accounts, over 60% of US citizens say they have never met a Muslim or know much about the religion of Islam. Yet, despite the lack of contact and interaction, a majority of Americans continue to define all Muslims as “fanatics”, “violent” and “ignorant”. This is not surprising because, their impression of Muslims is derived largely from narrow and biased reporting by media and other sources. This course is designed to bring an alternative voice, and a glimpse of the wider, sweeping, story of the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. Islam is the fastest growing faith in the world. So, who are we? What do Muslims find so appealing in Islam? What do we believe? What underlies Islamic culture and community? What is our experience with non-Muslims?
As an American Muslim, who has lived and worked in many Muslim countries, I will share facts and figures about Islam, but also my personal lived experiences as a practicing Muslim, as an immigrant, and as a peace activist. In the brief time we’ll have together, I’d like to share the story of my growing up years and the influence of my Muslim parents. From my 40 years of disciplined study and practice of the religion, I will discuss the fundamental principles of Islam and the essence of the religion, illustrated by relevant passages from the Quran. We’ll touch upon the impact of Islamic scholars on Western civilization and tackle some pertinent questions such as women’s status in Islam, and how Islam views violence.
In this increasingly connected globe, it’s imperative for our survival to foster greater understanding and build bridges. This course will offer information that may feel challenging, but we may end up being surprised, and delighted, to find that, beyond the differences, people are more akin to us than we realized!
The course is offered in four sessions that will cover the following topics:
- Islamic Culture and the Diversity of the Muslim World
- What’s at the Heart of Islam
- The Early History of the Islamic Community and Islam’s Contributions to Civilization
- The Relationship between Muslims and the West, What Muslims Face in the USA Today, Visualizing a way forward together.
Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion. Each session will include a presentation, interspersed with time for questions and answers.
Weekly Prep: Occasional Readings
Hayat Imam is an American-Muslim of Bangladeshi origin. She is a feminist-activist committed to building global social justice movements. Former Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund and Board Chair of Grassroots International, she is an active member of Mass Peace Action and Dorchester People for Peace. Hayat was a keynote speaker at the Boston Women’s March in January 2017 and, in the summer of 2018, at the Poor People’s Campaign on the War Economy.