Stu­dents and fel­low Mus­lims share faith

Central Leader - - News - By Heather McCracken

He prays five times a day and has never touched a drop of al­co­hol, but Bilel Ragued says he’s much like any other stu­dent.

The 19-year-old is help­ing share what it means to be Mus­lim with fel­low Auck­land Univer­sity stu­dents as part of Is­lam Aware­ness Week.

“A lot of peo­ple have mis­con­cep­tions so our aim is to try to clear those up,” he says.

“Most im­por­tantly, we want to show that we’re nor­mal peo­ple. We’re quite sim­i­lar to ev­ery­body else.”

Stu­dents from the 300-mem­ber univer­sity Mus­lim so­ci­ety held stalls on cam­pus this week talk­ing about their faith.

They’ve fielded ques­tions about drink­ing, ter­ror­ism and at­ti­tudes to women.

Mt Roskill res­i­dent Bilel says Is­lam has been mis­rep­re­sented by a small group, and vi­o­lence plays no part in his re­li­gion.

“There’s nowhere in the Ko­ran that says to do those things,” he says.

“Is­lam asks its fol­low­ers to re­spect hu­man life.”

En­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Fasi­hul­lah Shir­wali, 21, says the faith is a con­stant part of his daily rou­tine.

“It’s not just pray­ing once a week, it’s a whole way of life,” he says.

He makes time for prayers be­tween classes, us­ing a ded­i­cated prayer room on cam­pus.

The New Wind­sor res­i­dent says fel­low stu­dents are of­ten sur­prised to find he never drinks al­co­hol, but ac­cept his choice.

“Peo­ple do un­der­stand when you ex­plain,” he says.

This year’s aware­ness week theme of Strong Fam­i­lies – Bet­ter So­ci­ety was launched by Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Anand Satyanand in Welling­ton on Mon­day.

Is­lam As­so­ci­a­tions Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Javed Khan says strong fam­i­lies raise mem­bers to be strong in their faith and their re­la­tion­ships with so­ci­ety in gen­eral.

Mosques around the coun­try will open their doors to the pub­lic to­mor­row and Mr Khan says mem­bers will be on hand to an­swer ques­tions.

“The rea­son is to give a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of Mus­lims and Is­lam to the wider com­mu­nity.

“A lot of peo­ple have never been to a mosque and it will be an op­por­tu­nity for them to see and ask ques­tions,” he says.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.is­la­maware­ness.co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Strong faith: Auck­land Univer­sity Mus­lim Stu­dent So­ci­ety mem­bers Fasi­hul­lah Shir­wali, left, and Bilel Ragued.

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