Mar 282004
Authors: Spencer Goodfriend

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,”

Shakir said.

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 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

Rutgers University.

Has traveled to Syria to study Islamic law.

He has written for numerous Islamic publications and has

appeared on national television.

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