Minister says Islam given bad name

Imam Zia said people who commit terrorist acts are not representative of the Islamic faith. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Islamic community has been misunderstood for their rights and values. On Tuesday, Zia, an Islamic minister, talked with and explained to students at USF to help them understand Islamic rights.

Zia spoke to a group of about 35 students in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center as a part of Islamic Awareness Week, which lasts until Saturday.

Maysi Hnin, a member of the Muslim Student Association, said it is important that everyone receives the correct knowledge about Islam and the culture’s beliefs.

“The media has been abusing the knowledge of Islam,” Hnin said. “People have the right to get the correct knowledge.”

In order to send the correct message to students, Hnin said it was important that Imam Zia came to speak about human rights in Islam. Hnin said Zia is a knowledgeable imam because he is a hafiz, someone who memorizes the Quran.

Zia said human rights are given to people by God, and once people believe in their rights, they cannot be taken away.”God has given rights to every Muslim,” he said.

Zia said people in Islam cannot allow hate to take them away from their justice.

“To kill a person without reason, is as if he killed all of humanity,” Zia said. “People who commit terrorist acts are not representatives of Islamic faith.”

Zia discussed Islamic rights that are often misunderstood, rights such as protection of personal freedom and religion. Zia said that in Islam, the freedom of thought is permitted under Islamic law.

However, Zia said homosexuality would not be allowed in Islam because it is not under the boundaries of God or His beliefs.

“For example, if everyone thought stealing was allowed, it would not be permitted in Islam,” Zia said. “In comparison to human law, God’s law does not change.”

Zia talked about the misunderstanding of the term “jihad.” He said the word is misinterpreted to mean a holy war.

“That is not what jihad is,” Zia said. “It is a struggle, and the best form is to speak up against a tyrannical leader.”

Zia said although there is not a democracy in Islam, the country’s citizens have a mutual respect for one another’s’ opinions. That is when the elders and knowledgeable people take opinions from the Islamic community and then give those opinions to elderly scholars to help them make a decision.

“Every person has a right to view their opinion without being persecuted,” Zia said.

Zia also discussed the consequences criminals will face if they are proven guilty for an intentional murder. He said it is the choice of the victim’s family whether they want to have the criminal executed or given blood money.

Zia said blood money is equivalent to 100 camels, and each camel costs about $1,000 to $1,500. He said criminals who are not executed can be let free, but it is their responsibility to give the blood money to the victim’s family.

In Islam people who are guilty of a crime can ask for God’s forgiveness.

“It is more than just saying sorry,” Hnin said. “You have to truly mean it and be willing to change your ways.”

Zia discussed the rights of religion in the Islamic culture and said nobody can be forced to be a Muslim. He said people are allowed to practice their religion under the Islamic law and nobody can harm those people in a synagogue or church.

Zia said it was important that people understand all people are equal under the Islamic law, whether they are black, white or Muslim. He said people are not allowed to despise one another for their skin color.

“No Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, and vice-versa,” Zia said. “The same goes for blacks and whites.”

He said in Islam women’s rights are also the same as men’s. “They are not different at all,” Zia said. “Both have to dress modestly.”

Hnin said, in Islam, the clothing women wear gives them a moral value rather than people seeing women as a sex symbol. “It is a given value and an honor,” Hnin said. “People can get to know me as a person and my intelligence, not for my beauty.”She said women must wear loose clothes that cover the shape of their body, so people cannot assume the exact size of a woman, and men also must wear loose clothing.

However, when a woman is with her family members she doesn’t have to cover herself, Hnin said.

“If you see why women cover more, it is because they have more beauty than men,” Hnin said. “Beauty is something that is shared with loved ones such as her husband or family members.”

n Contact Grace Agostinat