By Вen Li
"Religion was not created to put up borders."
Eight words spoken by Sikh Students’ Association representative Manmeet Bhullar captured the spirit of the Dialogue on Terrorism held on Thurs., Oct. 4 at the University of Calgary. Organized by several religious student groups, it featured speakers raising awareness about religious issues surrounding the terrorist acts of September 11.
"I wish there would be more dialogue like this," said moderator and Religious Studies instructor Anne Moore. "If we don’t deal with problems that lead to ignorance, we will have more."
Muslim Student Association representative ‘Abd Alfatah Twakkal explained that the actions and motives behind the September 11 attacks were not representative of Islam.
"I think it has already become clear that from the Islamic perspective, there is no way those attacks could be justified," said Twakkal. "There is no room for this in the Islamic tradition or any tradition."
Twakkal noted that much of the misunderstanding surrounding the attacks result from media misrepresentation of the nature of Islam through the incorrect use of words like "Jihad" to describe Islamic sentiment towards the West.
"The word [Jihad] in and of itself means ‘struggle’ ," said Twakkal. "The scope of it includes all types of struggle, but there is a danger when this term is used to refer only to a martial struggle. "
In addition to Muslims, ignorance and hatred has affected people of other faiths, according to Bhullar. He and other Sikh students have been recently mistaken for Muslims by people who have lashed out.
"I hope that all of us as a human community do something about such issues," said Bhullar. "People who are brought up in hate themselves hate. We should battle hate with love, war with peace. "
Bhullar added that the spirit of cooperation among individuals of different faiths is evident at the U of C in spite of minor incidents involving religious hatred.
Alisa Webber, speaking on behalf of the Christian Religions Umbrella Group, agreed.
"What’s going on is a few students are afraid," she said. "People are afraid of the unknown and we see this come out as racism. I think that this is definitely a step forward, to break down some of the barriers that have been built up this month."
To that end, some focused on the issues of forgiveness, justice and revenge for those behind the attacks.
"Vigilantism has no place in Islam," said Twakkal. "You must remember not to commit more injustice in bringing people to justice. We know for sure God will take them to account."
"It’s a lot easier to bring justice than to forgive," added Webber. "But God is sovereign. He is in control."
"God will forgive those who are ready to abolish hate," agreed Bhuller. "These terrorists are not ready, therefore they must face justice."
The next Dialogue on Terrorism will held on Thurs., Oct. 11 in the MacEwan Hall Ballroom.