Yesterday, Lancaster University Islamic Society hosted a panel of three speakers who answered the questions of students on campus. There was a descent turn out, with a number of curious non-Muslims who came prepared with their questions sincerely seeking answers from sound academic and Islamic scholarship.
It was a great discussion! Many will testify it was one of the highlights of the week. Personally, I realised how thirsty the community is in knowing what Islam has to offer. Why is it that Muslim women are covered? Is it not oppressive? What about Saudi and French law? Are they both barbaric? Some of these questions, along with many others were addressed by the three articulate panelists.
The atmosphere was very energetic and everyone was fully engaged. It really highlighted that more work needs to be done to highlight normative Islam to people who have been exposed to a misrepresentation of this way of life.
Some of the questions posed were really humbling. One audience member sincerely questioned whether propagation of Islam is deemed to be a fundamental requirement as it is for some evangelic Christians. Considering it is, many of us realised how we were not really fulfilling our duties as Muslims in portraying the prophetic qualities which if people saw would fall in love with. Our propagation is more of an invitation, as one of the panelists Imam Abdullah Hassan explained. It’s like inviting someone for a meal to your house. You serve them a dish you prepared but it’s their choice how much of it they eat or whether they eat it at all. “Let there be no compulsion in Religion” as God says in the Quran.
Dr Shuruq Naguib highlighted how the spiritual dimension of Islam was lacking and it is this that is truly transformative, for the self and those around us. All agreed that more effort is required to embody Islam. How effective is preaching when our character is wretched? What are we propagating to if our etiquettes are lacking? Who are we calling to if our mannerisms are contrary to what he ﷺ came with?
The evening ended with hot food and a heartwarming request from one of the audience members. She wanted to embrace Islam. I stood next to Shaykh Waleed Al Madani, trying hard to hold back my tears as he recited the testimony of faith. The sister bore witness that there is none worthy of worship other than Allaah, God, and that Muhammad is his slave and final messenger ﷺ.
Stay tuned for the recording of the full event.