Religion experts want dispel misconceptions about Islam

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The public will have the chance to encounter the Islamic religion at an inter-faith forum to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Cape Girardeau Public Library.

Dr. Tashin Khalid and his wife, Naghma, will discuss their faith and some of the common misconceptions about it. The Rev. Robert A. Towner of Christ Episcopal Church in Cape Girardeau will discuss similarities he sees between Islam and his own faith.

Dr. Tashin Khalid emigrated from Pakistan in 1992 and now works as an assistant professor of elementary education at Southeast Missouri State University. He leads Friday prayer sessions at the Islamic Center, corner of Harmony Street and West End Boulevard in Cape Girardeau.

"We want everybody to know that Islam is a peaceful religion," he said. "People see that evil knucklehead bin Laden and they get the wrong idea. The Koran does not promote violence, and I want to do what I can to show its true meaning."

Khalid estimates that around 30 Islamic families live in Cape Girardeau and Sikeston.

Towner is an adjunct professor of world religions at the university. He and Dr. Jack Stokes of the Department of Social Work at the university will introduce the Khalids.

"I would like people who have a talk-show view of Islam to meet some real-life Muslims," Towner said, "I want to stress the commonality of the two religions, show that we both believe in a merciful creator-God, and we both respect the dignity of other people."

Role of women in Islam

Naghma Khalid will speak about the role of women in Islam. She stays at home with the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Jowairia.

"I believe that the role of women in Islam is much different than what the media shows," she said. "We don't wear headscarves out of pressure from our husbands. It's just the traditional way to act in the company of strangers. It is our choice."

The husband and wife say they feel right at home in Cape Girardeau. "It's a great community," Dr. Tashin Khalid said, "Even after Sept. 11, there was no violence or anything. People were just curious to learn more."

The forum will include an introduction to the five pillars of Islam, a definition of what jihad -- often used by terrorists to justify violence -- means to the faithful and a talk on women in Islam. A question and answer session will follow.

335-6611, extension 245

Want to go?

* Who: Dr. Tashin Khalid, Naghma Khalid, Rev. Robert A. Towner and Dr. Jack Stokes

* What: "Encountering Islam," a public inter-faith forum

* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

* Where: Cape Girardeau Public Library, 711 N. Clark St.

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