New Muslim/Non-Muslim Education & Support Group: Understanding Islam
There is a saying that goes "There is no better place to search for hope than the future; a concept that gives everyone in existence a reason to live". But future is full of uncertainties, challenges, and trials. Through such challenges, we learn to carve a new path that gives us hope.
Understanding Islam classes provide that opportunity to carve your own path and embark on a spiritual journey for those who are true seekers, whether New Muslims or Non-Muslims.
It is a welcoming group for those who are willing to learn, explore, and understand Islam in depth by analyzing it through various perspectives.
We offer educational and social support to build bridges and foster friendships, and we offer fellowship to defeat fear, misunderstandings and misconceptions about Islam.
Who can join and why?
The Understanding Islam classes (UIC) are not limited to new Muslims or returning Muslims; It is open to all those who wish to deepen their faith and are willing to learn, discuss, and engage in an interactive dialogue.
Adult Education classes
Understanding Islam classes (UIC)
Held weekly at The Muslim Unity Center.
Every Friday 7:00 P.M (May change due to daylight saving time).
Education Coordinator and Instructor: Uzma Sharaf
Uzma Sharaf is responsible for leading, planning, assisting and directing social and educational activities for Understanding Islam group. She has taught Muslims and Non-Muslims alike to promote religious tolerance and cultural diversity in Pennsylvania since 2000. Raised in Saudi Arabia, she was motivated to learn the Arabic language and dedicated over 10 years to learning and teaching Arabic, Islamic Studies, and Islamic spirituality. She continued her education at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania,working towards obtaining her degree in Education with Concentration in Psychology after moving to United States in 1992.
- To provide Adult Education classes that focus on spiritual development through implementation of knowledge.
- To distinguish between cultural and religious practices.
- To create a non-judgmental environment for new Muslims, returning Muslims, and for those who have spiritual beckoning towards Islam.
- To build relationships with students through positive social interactions and help them integrate into a large Muslim community.
- To provide an opportunity for social interaction through a monthly potluck dinner.
- To help understand Islam by analyzing social, spiritual, and historical perspectives in cultural context.
The class will introduce you to the basic principles of Islam as well as cover the wide variety of other topics such as spiritual purification, self-improvement, social aspects of Islam, Historical aspects of Islam, manners of social interaction, Islamic spirituality, psychology and eschatology. Class discussion is based on Quran, Sunnah, Hadith, beneficial books such as Biography of Mohammed (Peace be upon him) and of course in-depth study of Islamic belief. Students will gain a better understanding of Islam.
Monthly Potluck Dinner; 1st Friday of every month @ 7:00 PM.
For more information regarding Understanding Islam classes and social gatherings, please contact;
BEING MUSLIM: Becoming A Member of Muslim Community
The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root word “salama” which means submission, peace, purity and obedience to God. But submission to God is not a blind imitation, it requires an intellectual pursuit and spiritual exploration. The conviction of soul depends on our willful acceptance without compulsion.
As mentioned in Quran " let there be no compulsion in religion”. (2:256)
Those of you who have accepted Islam as a way of life and decided to be part of our faith community - we congratulate you and welcome you with open heart! Being a Muslim is a conscious and willful decision (without compulsion) that affects every aspect of your life. It is not a verbal profession of faith, but a commitment of heart and soul which requires conscious effort, consistency, and practice.
Here is some friendly advice:
Do not get overwhelmed
A new faith comes with new rules on how to live your life, and that requires change. Many people are not used to change, most are eager to join every Islamic group on the face of the earth. Others start playing scholar within a few months. Many people feel left out because they think they must speak Arabic within a month. This is not so. Language doesn't make the Muslim. The message of Islam is universal and it is not limited to one race or nationality.
Being Muslims means understanding and internalizing the message of Islam. Islam inspires one to change the negative habits, thoughts, and behaviors into those that are more constructive and productive. It requires adjustment of life and a paradigm shift that leads to transformation of the soul. Islam invites us to a new life of self-actualization so we can live up to our full potential as human beings.
Accepting a new life demands transformation, whether you are a new Muslim or a born Muslim. It is a journey of self-improvement and spiritual growth. This process is gradual and requires patience, so do not expect immediate results.
Seek knowledge with patience
As mentioned by Prophet Mohammed, "For him who follows a path for seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the path to Paradise”.
- Take your time to learn and gather knowledge.
- Application of knowledge is necessary, knowledge without application is meaningless.
- Search for a study group to understand the message of Quran and engage in a collective study with the help of a teacher who will keep you motivated and assist you in your learning process.
- Studying collectively will not only increase your knowledge, but help you cultivate bonds of friendship. The fellowship with other believers will keep you motivated, strengthen your faith, and intensify your love for Quran - which eventually leads you towards your own spiritual growth.
Prayer is the second most important pillar of Islam after Shahadah (declaration of faith). It establishes your connection with God. Therefore, strive to learn prayer even though it may be challenging for the beginner. Performing prayers is a means of developing a connection with God by seeking help and guidance in daily life.
“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with humility and attentiveness.” (23: 1-2).
Perseverance is a key to success
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.
Do not be surprised if you find yourself struggling alone in awkward situations, facing discrimination or racism from Muslims and Non-Muslims. Some have experienced opposition from family members. Others feels that there is a lack of support from the Muslim community. If you find yourself in such situations, please contact Uzma Sharaf (MEP Representative) to provide more information regarding holistic transition to Islam and communal support. MEP (Muslim Enrichment Project) and MUC is committed to make this transition easy by providing social, emotional and educational support. Do not let the the shortcomings of a few Muslims deter you from your spiritual journey. Remember, “Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you are meant to do.” Also, do not let the shortcomings of a minority of Muslims deter you from the beautiful religion of Islam, for the religion itself is perfect, though its followers may not always be.
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