Omni Television, which gifted the project $100,000 -- $20,000 annually over the next five years – to Trinity Western University, also filmed the two day conference which will be re-packaged for broadcast. This type of public symposium is new territory for the University as it invites different faith groups onto the Christian campus to dialogue and explore the differences between faith and culture.
Over the course of the two days, the public had the opportunity to take a tour of a Mosque, attend keynote speaker sessions, a student forum and observe a round table discussion where a panel of Muslim men and women discussed at length what it is like to be a Muslim in Canada.
The major theme that speakers returned to was that the Qur'an, has been taken out of context by some Muslims leading to misinterpretations, resulting in violence and extremists. All speakers re-iterated that violence is not part of Islam and how because of extremist behaviors it has been challenging to educate society about the true meaning of the religion.
Political and International Studies Professor Dr. Paul Rowe, who is also a member of the Research Group at TWU that organized the conference, was very interested by the results of the first ever symposium. Says Rowe, “Muslims recognize that some of the problems they are experiencing are internal and, an institution like Trinity Western University, putting on this type of public symposium provides a safe place for Muslims to discuss and debate the religion of Islam among themselves along with the public. These external discussions, I think, will help dispel myths around Islam because right now there seems to be a lack of public debate on Islam.”
Third year, Trinity Western University International Studies Major, Yolanda Kornelsen, who attended most of the symposium says, “There was a huge emphasis placed on peace throughout the symposium. Many of the speakers recognized that the moderate Muslim voice, even though it's the majority one needs to stand up and be heard. We only really hear from the extremist side therefore it's one-sided.”
Over 400 people attended the two-day event and came as far as the Sunshine coast and Victoria. While Shabir Ally discussed the theology of Islam, Nelofer Pazira's closing discussion looked blatantly at suicide bombing and its rise throughout history in the context of Islam and religion.
Kornelsen says, “I've always been interested in the Middle East and now because of Faith Forward that interest has been strengthened.”
Says Rowe, “I hope that this symposium will challenge Christians to give Muslims the same respect we ask of them.”
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, communications and education to biotechnology and nursing, and offers 15 graduate degrees in such areas as counseling psychology, business, the humanities, theology and administrative leadership.
Last Updated: 2007-10-11