Zaid Shakir attempted to break down prejudices and
misconceptions and bring truth to the forefront Friday night in the
Lory Student Center.
This was the goal of his lecture, said Phil Howard, a former CSU
student. Howard works with the Muslim Student Association, which
organized the event along with the Muslim Intent on Learning and
The lecture, entitled, “How Islam Views Other Religions,”
featured Shakir, an expert on Islam who has traveled to Syria to
study Islamic law and now travels extensively to lecture on Islam,
Middle East politics and issues related to African Americans.
“It is important to discuss issues that are touchy, where
misunderstanding has occurred,” Shakir said. “There are higher
questions that concern humans, Muslims or otherwise. Our existence
in this world is shared together.”
He emphasized the importance of separating ideology, which
involves economics, from religion because it alters interpretations
of religious doctrine and provides leeway for violence that is not
sanctioned through faith. This is where he feels that people become
blinded to the similarities of the major religions, instead
focusing more on the differences.
“More importantly, how does Islam view the followers of other
religions?” Shakir said. “We believe life doesn’t end with this
world – this is consistent with other religions. Gaining all the
material wealth the world has to offer is worthless if you lose
paradise – this message is consistent with other religions. Islam
views religions as addressing these questions, worshipping God lays
the path towards salvation.”
He went on to note that Christians, Muslims and Jews share many
similarities in their beliefs: they believe in one god, they
believe in the Judaic prophets, they follow the line of Isaac,
Jacob and Joseph, they all are scripturally based, their moral
teachings have embedded judicial teachings (Judaism and Islam) and
they all believe that piety is based on conformity to ethical
“Human lives are in the balance. People of religion try to
preserve human life,” Shakir said. “What’s in common is greater,
not only to peacefully coexist, but to prosper.”
He went on to note that Muslims, Jews and Christians coexisted
in Palestine, Sarajevo and Bosnia for many years, despite their
recent tensions, and that Christians and Muslims worked together to
rebuild Lebanon after the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.
“The problem is these demagogues exploiting sensitive people to
manipulate their interests; the conflict isn’t rooted in religion.
Religion is the gasoline poured on an already existing fire,”
During a question-and-answer session, he was able to reply to
many assumptions about Islam that some Americans have. He informed
the audience that every “credible Muslim leader in America and
abroad has condemned the 9/11 attacks” and that their statements
can be read at www.cair.com. He took special care to address how
Islam views suicide bombings, terrorism and warfare in general.
“Islam is not a pacifist religion, but it is absolutely against
initiating hostility,” Shakir said. “To kill civilians in warfare
is strictly forbidden, suicide is strictly forbidden. There is no
tradition of suicide in Abrahamic religion.”
Roughly 75 Fort Collins residents, CSU faculty and CSU students
attended the lecture. Some of these people felt it was important to
understand Islamic views in a non-threatening and open-minded
“Honestly, this was the first time I’ve ever heard a Muslim
lecturer and I was very impressed,” said Austin Wheeler, a junior
speech communications major. “Tensions are running so high these
days, it’s really difficult to hear an intelligent discussion
concerning religion without subjective biases. Zaid helped shed
light onto many questions I had about his faith as well as mine.
Basically, we’re very similar and we’re in this together, he helped
me see that and I only wish more people could.”
Shakir was born in America.
Became a veteran of the Air Force via Lowry Air Force Base in
Went on to obtain a master’s degree in political science from
Has traveled to Syria to study Islamic law.
He has written for numerous Islamic publications and has
appeared on national television.