PATERSON — Funny notions about Islam are a familiar topic for Jehad Faleh, 15. His first name, for one, provokes jeers from classmates.

“They say ‘Yo, you got a gang over there in Palestine?’ or ‘What’d you get for Christmas, a nuke?'” said Jehad, an Elmwood Park High School student whose first name means “struggle” in Arabic. But many people think jehad or jihad — the English spelling varies — means holy war and therefore is associated with terrorism.

Misconceptions about Islam are rife, several area Muslims say. On Friday night, the Islamic Center of Passaic County, a Paterson mosque, hosted a lecture in part to help dispel one of the biggest misconceptions about Islam — that Muslims don’t believe in Jesus or other prophets celebrated in Christianity and Judaism.

The center’s Web site encouraged Muslims to bring their non-Muslim family members, neighbors and friends to the lecture. But not many non-Muslims attended, said Mohamed El Filali, the center’s outreach director.

“We want to do a press release next time,” he said.

In his lecture “Return of Jesus,” Oktar Babuna, a medical doctor visiting from Turkey, explained to a rapt audience of about 150 that humankind is nearing the end of time. Jesus’ return from heaven to Earth is imminent, said Babuna. When he returns, peace will prevail on Earth, he said. Babuna supported his comments with verses from the Quran shown on an overhead projector.


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