Opportunities to learn more about the Islamic faith are upcoming at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in East Bethel and the Nusrat Mosque in Coon Rapids.
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 19001 Jackson St. NE, will host its first series on Muslim-Christian relationships later this month.
“We thought that it would be really good for us to counter, as much as we could, all of the anxiety about Muslims and extremists,” said Deacon Glenndy Ose, minister of congregational life. “The members of our congregation are curious and not hostile.”
The series kicks off with a presentation by Ibrahim Bitrus, Nigerian theologian in residence for the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Bitrus is from Nigeria, where the Minneapolis Area Synod maintains a partnership with the Lutheran Church of Christ. Bitrus received his doctorate from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, Bitrus will give a presentation on Muslim-Christian relationships in Nigeria. About half of the African country identifies as Muslim, and the other half identifies as Christian. Tensions are high in northern Nigeria, particularly with violence from Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist terrorist group active in the region.
A question-and-answer session will follow Bitrus’ presentation, as will refreshments.
The following three Tuesday evenings, April 25, May 2 and May 9, the church will host a three-part series called “Our Muslim Neighbors” with sessions starting at 6:30 p.m.
Curriculum written by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is the basis for the series.
Fardosa Hassan, a 2012 graduate of Augsburg College currently working as a Muslim student program associate in campus ministry at Augsburg, will be the guest speaker at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church April 25. She will teach the Five Pillars of Islam, Muslims’ core beliefs, and touch on other Islamic faith traditions.
The following week, the discussion will focus on Jesus, Jews and Christians. Discussion questions center on what the Quran teaches about these three topics.
The final evening explores violence and the Islamic State. Learning what the Quran says about the use of violence to convert others to Islam and creating an Islamic nation will provide background to help wrestle with big questions about what’s happening around the world today.
For more information, visit www.oursaviourslc.org.
The Nusrat Mosque, 11450 Robinson Drive, kicks off its second open house series April 22.
“The importance of this is to remove misunderstanding,” said Imran Hayee, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which meets within the Nusrat Mosque.
Monthly two-hour sessions, all starting at 7 p.m., will cover a variety of topics:
-April 22, Muslim beliefs.
-May 20, Is extremism inspired by Quran?
-June 17, Why fear Sharia?
-July 8, Can Muslims be loyal to their country?
-Aug. 19, Does Islam suppress women?
-Sept. 2, Free will and free speech in Islam.
-Oct. 7, Story of Muhammad Part I.
-Nov. 4, Story of Muhammad Part II.
July’s topic is new to the lineup this year, according to Hayee.
Last year, “we had a wonderful success,” he said. By the end of the series, between 50 and 70 people were attending each session.
In today’s world, there are many misconceptions about the Islamic faith that have been raised by “bad apples,” Hayee said. To combat the Islamophobia that has arisen from such misconceptions, education is key.
All are welcome and are encouraged to bring their tough questions, Hayee said.
“No question will offend us,” he said.