Understanding Islam (March 2006)
Following up on the success of the Waking Up program, the Building Bridges programcommittee decided to focus one at a time on some of the major religious traditions that are less familiar to a largely Christian population, beginning with Islam. The conference began with an opening statements from Dr. Nahid Angha and Dr. Harlan Stelmach. A full day conference was designed to give a broad overview of Islam as well as specific focus on timely topics. The conference addressed such issues as women in Islam, civil rights, beliefs and practices, Islamic architecture, mysticism, and music. Panelists included: Shah Nazar Dr. Seyyed Ali Kianfar, DMaha elGenaidi; Suleiman Ghali; .; Ebrahim Nana; Mitchell Schwarzer, Ph. D.; Saleh Arthur Scott. This day ended by the beautiful music of Taneen Sufi Music Ensemble and Pir Shabda Khan.
The audience followed each of the speakers with close attention, and raised probingquestions. Many reported that they were surprised as theycame to understand the teachings of this Abrahamic tradition, realizing its depth, wisdom and peacefulness. During lunch and other breaks, participants took advantage of the opportunity to visit informally with one another and some of the speakers, and enjoyed a display of Islamic art and architecture. The enthusiasticresponse of the audience to the question and answer periods encouraged the planning team to schedule a follow up session, inviting the presenters and public to an informal discussion of topics they wished to understand more deeply.