Imagine being labeled as a terrorist just because of your religious beliefs. This is exactly what happens to Muslims all over the world. Tuesday night in Memorial Union Building (MUB) Theater 2, Imam Tariq Abur-Rashid came and spoke about the struggle that Muslims face across the world today, specifically in America, in a lecture titled “The African American Muslim Struggle at the Crossroads.”
“The African American Muslim struggle at the crossroads is essentially about the similarities of discrimination and oppressive methods that were used from the time of slavery until this modern present day,” Abur-Rashid said during his introduction.
He spoke about how he was going to take his knowledge about America’s history, along with the indigestible African-American past, in order to showcase the present issues Muslims and black communities face today.
Abur-Rashid wasn’t always a Muslim; he grew up as a Christian in New York. During his youth, Abur-Rashid admitted to making many mistakes and not resembling the person he currently is. It wasn’t until a stay in prison that Abur-Rashid found Islam and converted. In Islam, there is only one god; neither female nor male who sent messages to all the prophets, with Mohammed being the last one.
“Sometimes our (the Arabic) language becomes ambiguous,” Abur-Rashid said, before clearing up the meaning behind some of the words the media associates with terrorism.
According to Abur-Rashid, whenever the media states ‘Islamic terrorism,’ it is giving people the impression that Islam is not a peaceful religion; when the word’s root means peace. The word ‘salaam’, meaning peace, is the root word of the word ‘Islam.’
“Most people don’t do research, instead they believe the media,” Abur-Rashid said, before giving the audience an analogy. “The truth is what matters.”
The analogy Abur-Rashid used was paying a visit to a doctor when you want your car fixed. If someone wants to learn about the Islamic religion, then they should go to someone who practices it, and not news outlets.
“Degrees don’t define who we are, nor do they measure intelligence,” Abur-Rashid said when talking about the difference between being well trained and well educated. According to Abur-Rashid, an individual isn’t smart just because they learned how to perform a task perfectly; intelligence is more about an individual being open-minded to learning every day of their lives.
“We have to constantly keep learning, even after high school, especially in this era. I’m not a scholar, I am a student,” Abur-Rashid said.
He talked about Islam being a lifelong journey, and further instilling into the audiences’ minds that one should never stop learning.
Islam has 5 “pillars”, or rather fundamental parts of the religion. The first one is believing in only one god (Allah), the second is praying five times a day, the third, donating 2.5 percent of one’s income to charity, the fourth is going on a pilgrimage to Mecca and the last pillar includes fasting during Ramadan.
In terms of going to Mecca, if one cannot afford it then Allah would understand. After going over the pillars, Abur-Rashid went into more detail about the fifth and last pillar he mentioned; the one where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. During this fast, Muslims can only eat and drink before the sun rises in the morning and then after the sun sets in the afternoon. Also during this time, Muslims must abstain from their desires, such as sex, and things involving the tongue, such as cursing and gossiping.
“You can’t judge Islam based on a Muslim, but you can judge a Muslim by Islam,” Abur-Rashid said, prior to explaining the origin of the word Muslim.
Muslim is an Arabic word that means ‘one who submits (to God),’ and Muslims are people of peace. In other words, once someone surrenders to Allah, they become peaceful in the eyes of the Islamic religion. The religion itself does not promote any type of violence.
Another word the media commonly uses to negatively portray Muslims is ‘Taliban,’ which means “truth seeker.” Lastly, the media uses the word ‘jihad’ in a negative way when talking about Muslims, but the word means ‘a struggle’ or ‘to struggle.’
“The media has the nerve to single out a religion and label it as terrorism,” Abur-Rashid said when going on to talk about how individuals react to what the media says about Muslims. “If you instill fear in people, they don’t think.”
“Media is propaganda’s biggest organ, and journalists are paid to defeat the truth in order to survive,” Abur-Rashid said when talking about the ‘Industrial Reality Industry.’
According to Abur-Rashid, news outlets try and make what is not real, real. All of it is a part of psychological control.
It was here that Abur-Rashid used a quote by Joseph Stalin, that stated, “The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror.”
“The media will make you think that victims are the perpetrators and those attacking are the victims,” Abur-Rashid said.
According to Abur-Rashid, terrorists don’t go around wearing shirts that display their group affiliation. In his opinion, Abur-Rashid believes that it is the government that is trying to purposely kill and destroy the organized religion. He believes that history shows that people want to destroy established religion. All of the prophets were faced with the government, and it isn’t just the Islamic religion that faces this problem; they’re just the ones who are currently facing it.
“The truth can never be controversial,” Abur-Rashid said as he was finishing up talking about the struggles Muslims face.
He also added that be blieves those who control money are the ones that control the world.
“We’re dealing with something serious here and it ain’t the Muslims,” Abur-Rashid said.
The lecture was concluded with a sincere thank you from Abur-Rashid, and another reassurance that his intentions were not to recruit anyone to believe what he said, but to get those in attendance to think outside the box and influence them to not blindly believe everything the media tells them.