International lecturer speaks at URMSA event

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A photo shows people seated at banquet tables that fill a large room with a speaker facing the crowd from a stage at the furthest point in the photo.
A full house at the inaugural fall dinner kicked off a series of educational events organized by URMSA. University of Regina Muslim Students’ Association

Students learn, honour, and reflect with Adnan Rashid during Islamic Heritage Month

The new October scheduling of the university fall break provided students not only with a much-needed physical break from studies, but also a time for spiritual enrichment.  

October is Islamic Heritage Month in Canada; established by the Federal Government in 2007 as an opportunity to learn, honor, and reflect upon the rich history of Islam and the global contributions of Muslims. 

The University of Regina Muslim Students’ Association (URMSA) hosted a series of events over the break featuring scholar Adnan Rashid. With over 93.1 million subscribers on YouTube, Rashid shares insights from decades of study in Islamic civilization, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam: Peace Be Upon Him), and comparative religion. The scholar has previously delivered compelling seminar talks and interfaith dialogues at universities internationally. Thanks to URMSA’s efforts, the University of Regina hosted the scholar this time, providing an opportunity for students to benefit from his expertise.

On this occasion, the Carillon also had the opportunity to speak with Bashar Moolla, URMSA president, and conduct a survey to get students’ take on the events. We received a glimpse into Rashid’s visit to U of R, exploring the significance of Islamic history and highlighting the impact of URMSA as a platform for students to foster a sense of community on campus.  

Events kicked off with an inaugural Fall Dinner on Wednesday, October 11. With a full attendance of 250 guests, the evening began with congregational prayers and an introductory address by URMSA, followed by Rashid as guest speaker and an open buffet dinner in the Multipurpose Room at the Riddell Centre. Moolla summed up the success of the dinner as “just the beginning of a series of enlightening sessions.”    

On Thursday, October 12, the major talk unfolded at the university theatre where Rashid took the stage to discuss the interplay of the Qur’an, justice, peace, and progress. Rashid, in his words, said, “There is no progress without peace, no peace without justice, and no justice without the Qur’an. This is the golden formula, what I call the golden chain of events in the history of Islam.” This statement underlined the theme of the scholar’s major talk. 

Addressing an audience of both students and the public, he emphasized that this presentation served as a condensed form of a course that he typically delivers over an entire day. Rashid provided a comprehensive overview of the history of Islam and the sequence of events that led to Muslim civilization, one closely tied to human civilization itself.  

The significance of Islamic Heritage Month was emphasized by Rashid at one point during his talk. “History has patterns and has things to offer. It is important to acknowledge our own civilization to make sense of what happened in the past,” he said. 

Moolla added, “The scholar Adnan Rashid’s presentations on Islamic history were not only educative, but they were also instrumental in fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural and religious heritage among attendees, reinforcing the sense of community and shared learning that URMSA continually seeks to promote.”  

Rashid also highlighted the often-overlooked contributions of Muslim scholars in various fields, including algebra and trigonometry, the creation of encyclopedia, advancements in medicine, developments in cartography and geography, translation efforts from Arabic to other languages and the historical significance of the first notable library established in Europe by the early Muslim dynasty, among others. In summary, Rashid reiterated the legacy of Muslim thought and Islamic history. His talk wrapped up with a Q&A session, a captivating highlight for his audience. 

One U of R alumnus who attended the talk shared their impression. “This presentation has been an eye-opener on how proud I should be of the Islamic civilization and its contributions to justice, leadership, and modern-day science. This is crucial in a time when Western media often paints a negative picture of it, which has regrettably been a major contributor to Islamophobia.”  

Maliha Jabeen Khan, a pre-med student at U of R, found the event informative and a good way to connect with the community. ‘’The annual dinner with Ustadh [Scholar] Rashid was firstly a great way to connect the Muslim youth and Muslim families, […] most of us know the major life events from the Qur’an, the different prophets and their struggles, but none of us know about the history of Islam after the Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam: Peace Be Upon Him),” said Khan. “Knowing the different names of Muslim men and women who contributed to renaissance, science, math, and other fields of study is essential as it encourages us, as university students, to gain a better understanding of the achievements of Muslims in worldly progress.”    

Moolla mentioned other notable initiatives undertaken by URMSA on campus. “Collaboration lies at the heart of URMSA’s ethos. By partnering with various on-campus clubs and off-campus organizations, we amplify the impact of our initiatives,” he said. 

This collaborative spirit has been evident in URMSA’s various endeavors throughout the year such as the donations table set up at the university for the Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal, Morocco earthquake relief, and Libya flood assistance, as well as their efforts for charity drives and community welfare.  

Added to that, Moolla pointed out, “URMSA’s calendar is marked with community-centric events that resonate with our commitment to solidarity and awareness. These activities, often echoing global concerns and humanitarian efforts, not only serve to mobilize support but also instill a sense of responsibility and global citizenship among students.”  

URMSA’s commitment to an accommodating university environment conducive to student’s observing their faith is emphasized. “As one of the most substantial non-faculty student groups, we ensure access to dedicated prayer spaces and uphold the sanctity of practices like the Jummah [Friday congregational] prayers through organized bookings and arrangements,” said Moolla. 

“Our dedication in this regard affirms our commitment not only to the spiritual well-being of Muslim students but also to fostering an atmosphere of religious inclusion and respect within the broader university context.” Moolla added.  

Ramla Jama, a current student at the University of Regina, acknowledged the positive impact of having a Muslim students’ association on campus. She stated, “Through URMSA, I feel connected to people with similar backgrounds. Those events help in educating myself on my faith and other nonfaith related topics such as mental health/self-care events.” Jama mentioned the congregational Friday prayers, Islamic Awareness Week talks, self-care events, and the Islamic history and civilization seminar as standout events. To stay up to date on URMSA’s upcoming events, you can navigate to their official website: urmsa.org.  

While you may be reading this article in the tranquility of your own space, let’s not forget the ongoing humanitarian crises on the other side of the world. In those regions, the significance of the words “justice” and “peace” cannot be understated, and their importance is more critical today than ever. Back to the focus of Adnan Rashid’s talk, let’s acknowledge that peace cannot be achieved until everybody is equal and until justice is served.  

In Rashid’s words: “Any civilized society must offer impartial justice to everyone despite all the differences and all the profiles.”  

Editor’s Note: This article was moderately revised on October 27, 2023, at the author’s request to update the final sentence of the third paragraph for clarity. All other aspects of the article remain as published.

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