Imam visits Murray State

Courtney Laverdure
Staff writer

Building bridges and finding ways to bring people together through commonalities was the focus for the second lecture on religious diversity Tuesday afternoon in the Curris Center Theater.

Hosted by the Social Work Lecture Series, “Religious Diversity: Finding the Commonalities,” was a continuation of the effort to promote religious understanding and tolerance. Last year on Valentine’s Day, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk spoke on compassion.

The speaker of this year’s installment featured Ossama Bahoul. He is a graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, were he received a bachelor of arts in Islamic Studies. He is also certified in the authentic recitation of the Holy Koran

He received high honors upon the completion of his master’s in which his thesis was the establishment of the importance of relationships curriculum aimed at secularists, atheists, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

He completed his doctoral degree in comparative religious studies where his thesis was the critique of Christian issues within Will Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” and achieved the honor of excellence with the request for the publishing of his thesis.

An Imam is an Islamic leadership position and the Imam often plays the role of the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community.

Bahoul has been the Imam of the Islamic Society of Southern Texas located in Corpus Christi, as well as the visiting Imam for the Islamic Center of Irving in Irving, Texas.

Since April 2008, Bahloul has served as the Imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Bahloul said the heat in Dallas motivated his move to Tennessee.

“I find Tennessee hotter… politically.”

Bahloul shared was he said is the true message of the Koran and how non-Muslims misinterpret the actions of radicals as the ideals of all who practice the Islamic faith.

“The Koran reads, ‘You have your religion and I have mine’,” Bahloul said.

He said all religious people need to try to understand the message of their own faith first. The Koran encourages Muslims to cultivate a good, symbiotic relationship with non-Muslims.

Bahloul aimed to teaach the audience that judging others is no one’s place but God’s, even if people feel entitled to their own point of view.

“To build bridges, we must first understand our limitations,” he said.

Even though Bahloul was there to speak on religious tolerance and acceptance of others, a voice from the front of the theater during the question and answer segment illustrated differing views present with a controversial question,

“Why are so many Muslims terrorists, or why are so many terrorists Muslims,” the voice said.

Bahloul cited the many non-Muslim attributed attacks on American soil.