The Professor believes that real-life communication with people practicing different religions does much better for her students and lives a brighter impression than a mere collection of facts. This is confirmed by her students, who shared their impressions of the visit.
“You can spend the whole semester listening to lectures in large auditoriums, read the books, get general information — but you can’t understand the religion and the culture in isolation from people practicing it. The knowledge you gain this way will soon become some distant recollection. This one class, on the contrary, gave me a better insight than loads of scientific research on Islamic studies!”
The guests soon found legs and jumped into a conversation with Mr.Said Ismagilov, Mufti of Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine “Umma”, and other ICC Muslim staff members. The students liked that the Mufti was open for discussing any topics, including doctrinal beliefs and practical aspects in a simple language and in a way easy for every non-Muslim. This caused a lot of questions covering a wide range of topics: basics of Islam; dress-code of modern Muslim women; if it’s permittable for Christians to pray at mosques and is Muslims can pray in churches; why are Ukrainian values so close to what Islam teaches, that Ukrainians marrying someone from Muslim countries don’t find it very hard to adapt; how can an archeologist who found some unknown grave know if that person had been Muslim, and what should one do with the remainings in a situation like that, according to Islam?
Shaikh Said Ismagilov eagerly answered: told a story pf Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who invited Christian travellers to pray inside his mosque in the city of Medina during their stay; invited Muslim women, so that the students could learn the peculiarities of their style first-hand, etc. As for the Archeology, the students learned how Muslims are buried and that the remainings should be left in peace if possible, or transferred and re-buried at the nearest Muslim cemetery if there’s no such possibility. He also told that it was absolutely intolerable to put the human remaining is Museums for any reason.
When answering the questions on interfaith communication in ukraine, Said-Hazrat noted that such dialogue is yet at a fledgling stage, but the most important thing was that dialogue had started and gained momentum. The Mufti drew the guests’ attention to the fact that the whole world is fascinated by close cooperation of Ukrainian Christians and Muslims, — yet those religious communities had been living side-by-side in Ukraine for centuries and have common moral values, similar attitude to different matters like charity and many other things, etc. Besides, people have been united by patriotic feelings and love for homeland and for people lately, for we all are the one and only Ukrainian Nation.
A tea-party with sweets and excursion over the mosque made the evening complete, and each guest was presented with a copy of the new Ukrainian edition of “General Introduction to Islam”. Female guests were especially happy with the excursion, for they thought for some reason that women were never allowed to a mosque — another myth ruined.
The students asked if they could come again, and were happy to hear: “Of course! Our doors are always open for anyone who comes with peace!”