Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

This weekend, the Spanish Medievalist, myself, and the rest of the intrepid faculty of World Cultures II, a class in the BIC at Baylor, took our students to Dallas to visit the Dallas Museum of Art and the Islamic Association of North Texas.  For 99% of the students, this was their first visit to a mosque.  The community at IANT has always been kind and generous to us and this year was even better.  After observing the 4pm prayer and a short Q&A, we were treated to snacks and drinks.  

Jesus Minaret at the Great of
Mosque in Damascus.  It is said that this
Minaret marks the location of the
second coming of Jesus.
The Q&A is always the most interesting part of the visit.  This year, our leader was an American convert to Islam.  That got the attention of our 90 students from the world's largest Baptist institution.  Some questions arise every year.  Why are you a muslim?  What is the significance of the afterlife?  Is it hard to live within the dietary restrictions of Islam?  This year we had some challenging questions.  Prior to going to the mosque, the students read parts of the Qur'an translated into English.  A couple of questions arose about whether Islam is a religion of peace or violence.  The translation of the Qur'an says that it is okay for a man to hit his wife.  Another section referenced by the students says  to kill non-believers.  As with any religion or religious text, there are "difficult passages" which, as our host astutely noted, requires "great scholars" to explain.  You can find what you want in any text, but what then is the true text, or in this matter, the true religion?

For an excellent, lively discussion of whether Islam is a religion of peace, check out the Intelligence Squared US debate.  (

No comments:

Post a Comment