October 28, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LEADING VOICE OF AMERICA'S
2.5 MILLION MUSLIMS
TO GIVE PUBLIC ADDRESS AT SMITH COLLEGE ON NOV. 11
Imam W. D. Mohammed's Talk
to Highlight Ramadan,
a Time of Focus on Islamic Faith
Editor's note: Photos of Imam
W. D. Mohammed are available. He is available for interview,
as is Khalilah Karim-Rushdan, chaplain to Smith's Muslim community,
and members of Al-Iman, Smith's chapter of the Muslim Students
Association. Contact Laurie Fenlason to request photos and interviews.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-Imam Warith Deen
Mohammed, leader of the largest Muslim community in North America
and a prominent spokesperson for America's 2.5 million Muslims,
will give a free public address at Smith College.
Mohammed's talk, titled "The Power of Ramadan, a Mercy for
All Humankind," will take place at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov.
11, in Wright Hall Auditorium. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
The son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation
of Islam, Mohammed is credited with bringing thousands of Muslims
into a new and influential organization-the American Muslim Society-that
espouses a traditional, spiritual interpretation of Islam and
repudiates the separatist ideas once preached by his father and
later by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Well known for his interest in religious freedom and interfaith
dialogue, Mohammed became, in 1992, the first member of the Islamic
faith to lead the U.S. Senate in prayer. He is international
president of the World Conference on Religion and Peace and a
member of the World Supreme Council of Mosques. For his work
in improving relations among Muslims, Christians and Jews, Mohammed
has been honored by numerous world leaders, including President
Bill Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Pope John
"For American Muslims, Imam Mohammed is a voice of compassion
and understanding," explains Khalilah Karim-Rushdan, chaplain
to Smith's Muslim community. "He represents the best of
Islam-peace, love and submission to Allah. He is one of the best
Karim-Rushdan spearheaded Mohammed's appearance at Smith as a
highlight of Islam Awareness Month activities sponsored by the
Five College consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith
and the University of Massachusetts).
Although Mohammed has lectured at colleges and universities across
the country-including Duke, Emory, Fordham, Georgetown, Harvard,
Howard, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale Divinity
School-Karim-Rushdan characterizes his appearance at Smith as
his first visit to a women's college.
"Imam Mohammed's visit to Smith is significant because it
helps to correct the misunderstanding that women are less important
in Islam than men," she explains.
Throughout history, she notes, Muslim women have been pioneers
in numerous fields, including business management, trade, the
social sciences, government and politics.
"We Muslim women of Smith College are proud to be a positive
example of Islam," she adds. "The education of students
in today's world obliges us to create and sustain an institutional
setting where differences not only of race but of religion and
spirituality are valued as important and integral."
In speaking of Ramadan, Mohammed will highlight one of the most
spiritual observances of Islam. The ninth month of the Muslim
calendar, Ramadan is a time of worship and contemplation, marked
by fasting during the daylight hours and small meals with family
and friends in the evening. According to the Islamic Society
of North America the first day of fasting for Ramadan 2002 is
Nov. 6. Some 50 Smith students are expected to observe Ramadan,
breaking the fast each evening at a special dinner in Chase-Duckett
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Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost
liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state
and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's
college in the country.