Christian Ladies ask a Muslim
TIVOLI – A Muslim is a follower of Islam. That was a point of discussion earlier this month when the Christian Ladies Group met at the Tivoli United Methodist Church. Guest speaker was Zokaa Rajjoub, who was born in Syria and moved to the United States when she was 17. She moved to Williamsport to complete her education at Lycoming College and then married a neuro-surgeon. She is the mother of five children and she is active in the Interfaith Commission through the United Churches of Lycoming County. “I have been here for 38 years,” said Rajjoub to a group of about 40 women. The media does not always give an accurate conception of their faith, she said, and few Muslims are terrorists. “We practice Islam, our religion is the concept of God. Salam means peace and Islam means to surrender to a will of God,” she explained.
Their belief goes back to the prophet of Abraham based on three needs, starting with sprituality which is God, then psychological, which is friendship and then the physiological need, and that is food and water. “We call this process ‘self-actualization,” she said.
Their name for God is Allah which is Arabic, a united culture and language for 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. “We belong to our prophet Abraham, the lost messenger.” There were 123 prophets over time, according to Rajjoub’s message, but only 3 messengers: Moses, Mohammed and Abraham. “We are all the same, and we worship the one God.” Islam is a combination of Judaism and Christianity. “We only accept what came from God to Moses,” she said with firm belief. “We don’t believe God has a mother, son, father, or wife. He is beyond human quality, and he is most forgiving. He is beyond our imagination.”
To further explain the Muslim religion, Rajjoub said with emotion, “Islam means submission, not terrorism. How can they blame billions of people for an act of a few people? None of us would be here if that were the case.” There are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Allah is the religion given to them, revealed to them from the prophets. They believe in The Qur’an, their holy book.
Their religion is based on 5 pillars of strength. The first is their declaration of faith and belief in God. Second is prayer. They pray five times a day. “I learned this since puberty,” said Rajjoub who also speaks and prays in Arabic, her native tongue.
The third pillar is fasting which is done during the ninth month of the lunar calendar. On May 26, from dawn to sunset they fast for self-discipline, then afterwards celebrate with a three day holiday and a family feast. “It’s kind of like a Christmas,” she said. A medical excuse can be obtained for fasting but not for prayer.
Charity is the fourth pillar. Two and one half percent of excess income is given to the poor. Silver and gold is a form of money and is weighed into the income factor every year.
Finally the fifth pillar is the pilgrimage. “If you can afford it, this is a once-in-a-lifetime to go to Mecca,” where a re-enactment of how Abraham used to worship is done. Rajjoub said she has gone twice “supplicating and praying to God. It is a most amazing scene you could ever seehundreds of thousands of people bowing together in prayer and chanting in Arabic ‘God is the Greatest.'” Everyone looks the same. There is no difference between rich and poor. She pointed out, “It is to remind you of the day of judgement.”
She told the audience that women are not being oppressed in Islam. “There are always those who misuse religion, such as a terrorist. A true Muslim will not kill a human being. It’s not fair to live by a few human people. It’s all politics,” said Rajjoub in conclusion. “We grew up not knowing there was a difference.”
The next meeting for the Christian Ladies Group will take place on Weds. June 7 at 1 p.m. with a program from religious author, Nancy Baumgartner titled “Glimpses of God from one writer’s pen.”