Comments from students regarding Syed B. Soharwardy’s presentation of Islam 101 at The University of Akron on February 22, 2007
I thought the guest speaker did a good job of conveying the Muslim religion to the class. I learned a lot more about his religion than I had known before. I was surprised by how many rules that had to be followed. A lot of the moral principles are very similar to the Christian religion. I thought the true goal of his presentation was to shed light on his religion because of the bad name it is given by terrorists and extremists. Perhaps the thing I appreciated the most was that he respected every ones beliefs and did not try to push or influence others that his religion was superior. Therefore, I found the presentation to be worthwhile and am now more educated on the Muslim religion. - Clint
I was impressed with Syed’s outright ask me anything you can’t offend me. It wasn’t arrogant, but comfortable in his communication. There was quite a bit that I learned, but I believe these are the highlights. Islam is not just a religion, it is a way to live your life, and it provides guidance when followed. This is first time that somebody explained God and Allah and I actually understood they mean the same. The five mandatory prayers and Syed’s explanation of why men and women are segregated made perfect sense. While men and women are separated, Islam promotes mutual respect. I told people about Syed’s lecture and they kept bringing up the Taliban and they denial of education and respect for women. It is amazing how little we truly know about Islam and it seems the media is interested in carnage, then actually coverage. To understand tolerance, acceptance and martyrdom was very relevant to our class reading. The plight of the poor and uneducated Muslim is what the corrupt leaders are exploiting. What I remember most is what I noted as the ‘basic problem’ with Islam; there is no leader, no Pope, no direction or accountability. Thanks to both Syed and David for making this educational experience a reality. Greg
I enjoyed the presentation of Islam 101 by Syed B. Soharwardy. I was able to learn much more about the Islamic religion and the life of Muslims. I was in the United States Army-Infantry from 2000 to 2004 and I knew little about the enemy of United States or the Middle East. I was able to broaden my horizon and understand more about the Islamic religion and the tradition. I have always respected the differences of the world but did not know the differences between Islam, Jewish, Catholic, or Christian.
I learned many things about the Islamic religion. I learned about the Qur’ran being the Holy Book and that Jihad is a holy war. I learned about the Shari’a (rules of Islam. I learned that the religion does not condone to suicide to destroy the enemy but it is haraam (forbidden) and that Maryrdom is a tool used to brainwash the suicidal terrorist. I learned that Bin laden and al-Zawahiri do not even truly know the Islamic religion. They stepped up when no leader was there to govern the lands. The information that caught my attention was the Ramadhan in the 9th month. That whole month there is no eating or sexual relations from dawn to sunset. I even learned that they must shower before and after any sexual contact.
Another thing that amazed me and made me think about the Islamic religion was the method of prayer. I learned that they separate the women and men during prayer. They do not want the women close with the men in any such revealing clothes when they move to the ground in prayer. The prayer is done close together and it is done many times a day. It is done Fajr (before sunrise), Dhohr (just after noon), Asr (afternoon before sunset), maghrib (after sunset), and Isha (before betime). I knew religions were very different from one another but did not realize any would be mandatory to pray some many times a day. - Michael
Before listening to the presentation given by Syed Soharwardy I must admit that I was naive in my thinking when it came to Islamic people and their religious ways. I did not understand why they did what they did; in the way that they dress, in the way that they spoke, and in the way that they lived. I honestly never tried to understand what their religion was about and why they did what they did. I only listened to the media and other ignorant people who obviously did not understand, and I took it as the truth. I understood that the suicide bomber that attacked innocent people called themselves Muslims and I, like many others, assumed that all Islamic people were like that. I thought they were violent and that all Islamic people thought that they were doing right if they were to kill themselves and others. I also thought that the men were sexist and believed that they were a better species than the women.
I would like to thank Mr. Soharwardy for making me more knowledgeable about the religion of Islam and for doing so in a way that made sense to me. I liked how he went over the history of Islam, that really helped me to understand where it came from and why. I am very glad that Mr. Soharwardy took the time to explain honestly and candidly what Islamic people and their beliefs were really about. I have a lot of respect for "true" Islamic people for their patience and obedience, it would not be easy to be so disciplined. I was surprised and pleased to hear that the men are not sexist and in fact look at their women as being complete equals and a lot of their ways (dress, praying, talking) make sense now, as it did not before.
I am glad that their is someone who is trying to make a difference by giving people knowledge and not by forcing them to see thing his way by force or manipulation. I only hope that more people can take after him in teaching people the truth and I hope that the ignorant people who only listen to here say will open their minds and understand the truth about the Islamic religion. - Deseree