Like Kindred

Muslim leader brings peaceful message<BR>

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From the Koran, the Muslim holy book:

"Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred, and forbids indency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed." (Chapter 16:91-93)

Islam promotes charity and forgiveness, and nothing in the Q'uran allows for the killing of innocent people under any circumstances.

This was the message carried to Hood River Thursday by Mizra Luqman, President of the Portland Chapter of the Ahmidiyya Movement of Islam, in a talk at Riverside Community Church.

The event was attended by fewer than 30 people. Those who did attend found a rich opportunity to learn about "The Misunderstood Religion" -- the title of a 1955 Readers Digest article by famed author James Michener -- copies of which Luqman gave away Thursday.

"The Koran is explicit in support of freedom of conscience," Michener wrote. "Mohammed constantly taught that Muslims should cooperate with the `people of the book' -- Jews and Christians."

Luqman said Thursday that "Allah is the Arabic name for God -- it is not a different God." In his brief overview of Islam he spoke briefly on the tenets and traditions of his faith, promising to leave plenty of time for questions. It was inevitable that during the "Q-and-A" the specter of terrorism would arise.

Referring to the actions of the Sept. 11 terrorists, one man rose to ask Luqman if the Q'uran contains any assurance of heavenly martyrdom for those who kill in the name of Islam.

"There is nothing whatsoever," Luqman said. He went so far as to say that Osama bin Laden "has nothing to do with Islam" and by some reports is unschooled in the faith.

With warmth and humor, Luqman presented an interpretation of Islam that stressed its similarities to other faiths -- prayer, acts of charity, fasting, repentance -- rather than its schisms.

Are there divisions within Islam? Certainly, Luqman said.

"Muslims are human, too," he said. "They also like to disagree, and make different interpretations."

But central to the teachings of Muhammed and the Q'uran, he stressed, is that "the best way of action is the middle way; we need to do things with moderation."

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