WILMINGTON, Del., March 26 — The Widener University School of Law issued the following news release:

More than 100 people gathered in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom on the Delaware campus during a recent Sunday afternoon to learn about Islam through the community forum, “A conversation with Delaware Valley Muslim Leaders.”

Organized by Law Professor Alan E. Garfield, the H. Albert Young Fellow in Constitutional Law, the March 18 program featured a panel of four speakers and devoted significant time to audience questions. Topics covered everything from the fundamentals of Islam to the concept of jihad and the role and status of women in Islam.

Most Muslims who have come to the United States from foreign lands are seeking education and a piece of the American dream, said panelist Dr. Mazhar Rishi, chief of pathology at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington and director of interfaith programs for the Delaware Valley Council on American-Islamic Relations. “My focus was to come here and get the best medical education I could,” he said.

Panelist Dr. James Stephenson, an occupational and travel medicine physician at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, discussed the pillars of Islam, including daily prayer, fasting during RAMADAN, charitable giving requirements and a pilgrimage to Mecca. “We believe in the oneness of God,” Stephenson said. “There is no need for us to force people to become Muslim. They want to be Muslim.”

Garfield said the program was an excellent example of the law school’s dedication to be civically engaged with the wider community outside its campus. A goal, he said, is for the school to host other community forums and turn the effort into a series.

Other panelists at the program included Sofia Ali-Khan, a staff attorney at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia and John Pavloff, an assistant district attorney in Chester County for 19 years and a Muslim convert.


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