Speakers explain respective faiths, religious histories

By Sandra Masibay

Religion took center stage Tuesday night as representatives from Judaism, Christianity and Islam presented basic explanations and entertained questions pertaining to each respective religion.

“Dialogue Between Religions” was part of the week-long lineup of events planned for Islamic Awareness Week this week.

The speakers at Tuesday’s event were Dr. Morsi representing the Islamic faith, Professor Fox representing the Jewish faith and Dr. Schmidt representing the Christian faith.

Each speaker was given a 15-minute time slot to explain the basic beliefs of his faith.

Fox was the first to address the audience with information on Judaism.

“Judaism is a product of the contract made with Abraham. (The religion) has been evolving ever since. There are individuals who believe it had reached its final form 1500 years ago. It is difficult dealing with such fundamentalists,” Fox said.

Two of the basic components of Judaism are to achieve holiness and to choose the good over the evil action, he said.

“Our religion teaches that the individual reaches salvation by deeds. The state of his soul in the next life is determined by his/her actions in this life,” he said.

“We are animals, but we don’t have to be beasts. (Through religion) the individual strives to reach the highest potential of man versus following every impulse,” Fox said.

The second speaker, Dr. Schmidt, briefly discussed major Christian holidays and outlined struggles within the church.

As Christians, two main events are celebrated each year. They are the incarnation/nativity cycle where God became flesh and the pascal/Lenten, Easter cycle which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ.

One of the struggles mentioned by Fox was the issue of taking translations of the Bible literally.

A second struggle Fox addressed was the difficulty of answering the question, “In what way is God present in Jesus Christ or is Jesus Christ God?

The last struggle Fox addressed was that of the trinity.

“What does it mean to say the three manifestations in the trinity are one? We never have been really capable in today’s world to say what that all means. It has traditionally been answered through a neo-platonic philosophical viewpoint. It is difficult to find modern metaphors,” Fox said.

The representative of Islam, Dr. Morsi, spoke last.

“Allah translated from Arabic means one and only true God. God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. All of us are created by the same God,” Morsi said.

“Most people are under the impression that Islam is a new or different religion. Islam is neither. The only difference is that the message was kept in its original language and has not sufferred any changes throughout history,” he said.

Morsi also attempted to clear up some of the most common misconceptions about Islam.

“A violent act carried out by a Muslim should not be attributed to the religion. Also, there are Christian and Jewish Arabs. They are not all Muslim. It is a misconception to believe Allah is a Muslim. Allah is the creator of heaven and earth,” he said.

Other misconceptions addressed by Morsi were the misconceptions that Allah is a violent, unforgiving god, that Mohammed was the founder of Islam or author of the Koran (Mohammed was a prophet that was given the word of God) and that Muslims are anti-Jew or anti-Christian.

A question and answer session followed.

“It was good for me to see the three different speakers, to know the basics of each religion so there are no misunderstandings. I got a lot of information that I had never heard before,” Gamal Jamaludin, junior finance major said.