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Islam and Modernity 

By: Brooke Byrne, Lions Eye Web Staff, bzb5183@psu.edu

On Monday, November 8, Penn State Brandywine’s Muslim Student Association sponsored a discussion on Islam and the modern world.

The speaker for the event was Asheq Fazlullah, a Penn State graduate and member of CAIR, the Council on American–Islamic Relations. Fazlullah spoke on how the Muslim religion has progressed over time and proved that it is in fact compatible with today’s world.

“There isn’t one Islamic way because it varies based on every place, family and time,” Fazlullah said. “It is always evolving and there are different interpretations, much like the constitutional laws in the United States.”

He went on to say that the difference between American laws and Muslim practices is that laws have authority. If there is a disagreement between two parts, it can be brought before the Supreme Court. The challenge for traditional Islam is that there is no speaker on behalf of the entire faith, but rather multiple people and groups, each with different versions.

Fazlullah continued by focusing on three main points of modernity that most people assume Muslims face challenges with today. He discussed their belief in science and technology, democracy and women’s rights and stressed how far the religion has advanced since its beginning.

It’s important topics like this that made students want to come. Sophomore Autionna West needed to attend a campus event to meet a requirement for a summer program she’s involved with. In the end, West said she was happy she chose to come because she was able to support her friend who helped to organize it.

Throughout the discussion, students were encouraged to ask questions or voice their opinions on the topics brought up. Junior Mariana Mathew was excited to be apart of a topic she had previously studied.

“I didn’t really learn anything new because I have studied Islam before,” Mathew said. “I liked coming with my friends, though, and I’m looking forward to the discussion segment.”

After Fazlullah spoke on each of the key points of modernity, Chinese food was served before the event was moved into a new room for a group discussion. Several students engaged with Fazlullah about parts of his speech they found interesting or other points of modernity they had questions about. Students who participated in the forum were given free coffee mugs as a token of appreciation.

Penn State Brandywine’s Muslim Student Association promotes the positive message of the Islamic faith and provides a place for members to gather for reflection and conversation. Whether you’re a member of the faith or just interested in learning more about it, events like this are a fun way to get involved.

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