First Friday talk covers basics of Islam

Dr. Rob Dunbar of the Religious Studies Department describes the basics of Islam for a First Friday audience.

By Crystal Myers staff writer

In just five questions, Dr. Robert Dunbar summarized Islam for the first of the First Friday Lecture series dubbed “Islam 101” on Friday, Oct 5.

His areas of inquiry included:

  • What is Islam? What does it mean to be Muslim?
  • Who was Prophet Muhammad and what role does he play?
  • What is the Quran?
  • What is the difference between Sunni and Shia? and
  • How does Islam compare to Christianity and Judaism?

Dr. Dunbar took a multifaceted approach to this topic utilizing a variety of mediums, like a map to illustrate the geographic distribution of Islam, and a sound clip to demonstrate recitation of the Quran.

Dr. Dunbar shared with the audience not only his passion for this topic but also his personal experience of having the privilege to see (what is believed to be) the oldest copy of Islamic holy text in Uzbekistan. He shared that like any community, Muslim practices vary by culture, especially with such a wide diaspora spread throughout different regions of the world.

The purpose of the lectures, sponsored by the 1948 Society, are to offer a variety of learned perspectives on different topics. At the close of his presentation, Dr. Dunbar allowed for the around 100 people in attendance to ask their own questions.

It was here that Dr. Dunbar’s expertise really shined as he took the time to explain some misunderstood facets of Islam. After the talk, many audience members approached Dr. Dunbar to have a more thorough discussion one on one. Professor Soud Amrane, a Muslim herself, commented that Dr. Dunbar had presented a “balanced” explanation.

Dr. Dunbar, who is a member of Fisher’s  Religious Studies Department, teaches the lecture topic as a full class, “REST 179C Intro to Islam.” In spring 2019 he will offer, “REST 258D Studies in the Quran” as well.

The next First Friday lecture will take place on Nov. 2 at  at 10 a.m. in the Cleary Family auditorium of Kearney Hall. The topic will be “The History of Letters,” presented by Dr. Carolyn Vacca of the  History Department.

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