Presenting before several curious students, faculty and Hays residents, Ruksana Kibria of the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh projected an image of Islam her audience was not used to seeing: a positive one.

“Islam is a peaceful religion,” Kibria said. “Its goal is to establish an orderly and harmonious way of life.”

Kibria is a Fulbright-in-Residence scholar who is helping teach Introduction to Islam, a class which started during the spring semester.

In addition to instructing the class, she also is scheduled to appear at public events to provide an image of Islam many do not see.

Kibria opened the forum by commenting on the growing communication gap between Muslims and the West, pointing out that most of what Americans know about Muslims comes from news agencies.

“People in the United States have a very bad idea about Islam,” Kibria said. “There are a number of misconceptions that Islam is not compatible with democracy or that it oppresses women. What is needed is a greater understanding of what Islam is all about.”

As soon as the floor was opened up for questions, the topic soon turned to Islam as it relates to the war on terror.

“There have been violent acts by Muslims, but that is not (indicative of) all Islam,” Kibria said.

“They are deviants. There are extremist elements in all religions.”

“These people have their own agenda, and they’re doing a lot of damage.”

Kibria also was asked how Islam could be used to justify tactics such as suicide bombings. Kibria said those who did such things were not “true Muslims.”

“Suicide in Islam is forbidden,” Kibria said. “The people who are committing these acts, they are doing something wrong. We must ask ourselves, who are these terrorists? They are a group of people who are being used by a larger entity.” (MORE)


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