Islam Exposed to Receptive Audience

April 10, 2009

Author: Eman M. Shurbaji

Source: The Bakersfield Californian

What’s the difference between read and recite? What’s the true meaning of jihad? Do Muslim women really have to wear the hijab (headscarf)?

At the “Islam Exposed” conference last Saturday, Sheik Yusuf Estes spoke to a packed crowd at the Beale Memorial Library auditorium in an effort to answer some of these questions. He broke his talk down into simple lingo using scenarios based on the contexts and times in which the Prophet Muhammad lived.

For example, despite the ill-informed belief that the Prophet looted and stole from caravans, he was nicknamed “al-Sadiq,” which means “the trustworthy one” in Arabic. Furthermore, his honesty and sincerity in his transactions as a merchant led to a marriage proposal from his boss, Khadija.

The invitation of Estes to Bakersfield was part of an effort to allow for more dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. Estes, a former Christian missionary, entered Islam through dialogue. A Texas native, he now lives in Virginia and travels throughout the country giving talks about Islam.

The afternoon conference began with an introduction and ended with a question and answer session. Sometimes, the sheik would refer people to one of several Web sites for further information.

Visitors were able to sign in as guests, pick up copies of the Quran and talk to volunteers from the Muslim community.

Sophia Bham, a volunteer at the information booth, said the turnout was, without a doubt, a success. “People were more interested and happy with the hospitality. They want to study more,” said Bham.

See also: Islam, Civic