Springfield woman works to dispel myths about Islam

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Imam Lasandia of the Majid Al-Madina mosque talks about the support the mosque has received from the community.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Springfield woman and a member of the local mosque has spent years working to share and explain her Islamic faith to people who might know little about it otherwise.

Samina Ahmed has lived in Springfield for more than two decades and explained her religion to members of the Springfield Rotary Club on Monday.

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“There’s a need for people to know what Islam is all about,” Ahmed said. “It’s not a scary religion. It’s not a hateful religion. It’s not out to get anybody or convert anyone because there’s no compulsion in Islam.”

Ahmed, born in Pakistan, moved to Canada as a child and then later to the U.S. She and her husband, Dr. Aijaz Ahmed, belong to the Miami Valley Islamic Association, which has a mosque on South Burnett Road.

Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam traces its roots to the Prophet Abraham, she said, and focuses on a message of peace and forgiveness. The U.S. has more than 5 million Muslims and there’s more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide. Followers believe in one God, she said, and that the Prophet Muhammad was his last messenger.

The religion is based on five pillars that include daily prayer, charity, belief in the one God, making a pilgrimage to Mecca and fasting during Ramadan.

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Because many people are unfamiliar with the faith, Ahmed said there’s often misunderstandings about the religion’s message. One typical point of confusion is Sharia Law, but Ahmed said it’s best described as a pathway made up of teachings that believers can follow to protect life and honor.

“Muslims living in the West follow the law of the land and maintain Sharia mainly in personal matters such as prayers, marriage and inheritance concerns,” Ahmed said.

The Quran rebukes violence and terrorism, she said, and anyone doing those acts doesn’t have a good understanding of Islam.

Members of Masjid Al-Madina in Springfield hold Friday prayers. Bill Lackey/Staff
Members of Masjid Al-Madina in Springfield hold Friday prayers. Bill Lackey/Staff

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She also addressed other misconceptions, including the idea that Muslim women are required to cover their head with clothing. But Ahmed said the idea is encourage people to respect a woman for her character, rather than her appearance. Women also cannot be forced to cover their heads according to the religion, she said. Instead, it’s a choice.

“Hatred arises from misunderstanding and lack of education of faith,” Ahmed said. “There’s a common theme of respecting others and following the golden rule.”