Differences among religions come from man’s interpretations of them, not from God’s message, said Samir Khatib, and Muslims believe in the same things as Christians and Jews.

Khatib, a Muslim, believes in Jesus, Mary, the Gospels, the Torah and other elements of Christianity and Judaism, as do all Muslims.

“If anybody tells you Muslims hate Christians or Christianity, Jews or Judaism, they do not know Islam,” Khatib said.

A director of the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton, Khatib on Wednesday spoke to a group of students at Lakewood Ranch High School. The group included Ellen Gold’s class, which is studying three major world religions and learning the commonalities among Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

A minister and a rabbi previously spoke to the group about their faiths, and Khatib talked about the prophet Muhammad, the Quran and the five pillars of Islam, clearing up students’ misconceptions. Khatib isn’t an imam or a scholar, but knows a great deal about Islam and speaks at schools often.

There are so many misunderstandings about the term jihad, Gold said, and Khatib agreed it’s often misrepresented in the media.

Jihad means struggling for God in every walk of life, from the time a Muslim wakes up in the morning until the time he goes to bed, Khatib said. It means “holy war” only if someone is fighting for the sake of Allah, the Muslim name for God. Khatib used the two interchangeably.

If someone visits a Muslim at his home, for instance, and tries to change his belief in Allah, the Muslim can fight that person. But if the person stops fighting, it’s the Muslim’s duty to protect him and help him leave the home.

Also, suicide is absolutely unacceptable because the soul is a gift from God, and it isn’t a person’s to take, Khatib said.


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