First of four Tea Talks hosted by Muslim Student Alliance
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Niagara University’s Muslim Student Alliance held its first Tea Talk on Feb. 22 in the Gallagher Center, discussing Sharia law and some common misconceptions surrounding it. The discussion came after the MSA’s Feb. 7 interest meeting, and was the first of several planned events for the MSA this semester. Meant to educate the Niagara campus on issues related to Islam, students from all backgrounds were invited to drink tea and eat popcorn while participating in the educational forum.
The MSA’s student officers welcomed over two dozen members of the Niagara community to the one-hour session. This included President Maham Alamgir, Vice President Rayenne Hale and Secretary Sevval Aydin. Dr. Mustafa Gökçek, faculty advisor for the MSA, served as moderator of the presentation of Islamic law. Gökçek, offered a PowerPoint featuring slides containing an overview of Islamic law.
“Sharia is not always understood in the right way,” Gökçek said. “Sharia has turned into a horrible concept for some people, similar to Jihad. Sharia and Jihad both share the same fate in terms of being taken out of context and used and misused by certain Muslim groups and then misunderstood by many non-Muslims.”
Sharia law, according to an Aug. 16, 2016 article by Gul Tuysuz of CNN.com, “refers to a set of principles that govern the moral and religious lives of Muslims.”
“Sharia is a path, a road or an avenue,” Gökçek said. “It really refers to the basic sources of Islamic knowledge, which are the sacred texts of the Quran and the Sunnah.”
Gökçek said that many Muslims of today do not fully understand Sharia, and that it’s basis is the primary texts of the faith. “We use and misuse Sharia so much in the wrong meaning that it is unfortunately misunderstood, even by a lot of Muslims.”
Attendees were given a printout containing information and charts detailing Islamic law. This ranged from the role of Sharia in governments, to sharia-phobia. One section explored Fiqh, the Islamic form of jurisprudence.
“There is no one single Islamic law,” Gökçek said. “There is one Sharia, one Quran and one Sunnah, but there are so many very diverse and pluralistic versions of Islamic law and interpretations of Sharia.”
Commonly encountered in news coverage related to Islam, Sharia has received negative attention in parts of the United States. Per Governing.com, Alabama became the seventh state to ban the law in 2014.
“A lot of people fear that Sharia is coming and growing, and that is substantiated by many Muslim groups which claim to act based on Sharia. So, we can’t really blame non-Muslims who are hearing this talk for their misunderstanding,” Gökçek said.
Three more Tea Talks will be held throughout the Spring 2017 semester, with a discussion on women in Islam scheduled for March 25, a session on Ramadan on March 22 and a Henna night on Apr. 12.
For more information on Niagara’s Muslim Student Alliance, visit the MSA’s Facebook page.