There are only three concepts of God in modern society, Wayne State Prof. Munir Fareed argued yesterday at the closing lecture of Islam Awareness Week, sponsored by the Muslim Students Association.
The three types of beliefs include theism, or belief that God exists; atheism, or disbelief in God; and indifference, that God is irrelevant, Fareed said. “Most people in the world believe in God, but most people in the world are inconsequential,” he added. “The world is dominated by an elitist mentality, which makes people inconsequential to the ruling global psyche. The movers and shakers of the world act on the premise that God may exist but (believe) He is non-interfering. Ethics and actions are therefore not colored by God.”
Engineering senior Yair Ghitza said Fareed’s classification of the concepts of God were fascinating. “One point in particular that I found interesting was the idea of the irrelevance of God in today’s society,” he said. “It’s sort of a new idea. When you have a discussion about God that’s something that usually doesn’t come up.”
In a secular society, the separation of church and state has evolved into the separation of religion from society, Muneer said.
“Freedom of religion becomes freedom from religion (because) secular society determines the parameters of the religious,” he said. “It is the Supreme Court that determines whether a Christmas tree or a menorah is secular or not. It is the Supreme Court that determines whether or not you can utter a prayer.”
Muneer also discussed the effect that tragedy has on a human being’s concept of God.
“Those who are most disturbed or concerned by God – whether the absence or presence of God – are people who suffered enormous setbacks,” he said. “When the Jewish relationship with God was so sorely tested and brutally abandoned during the Holocaust, many Jews wondered, ‘Can we still speak about the existence of God?'”
Fareed said the current debate within the Muslim world about God focuses less on the existence of God and more on the relationship with God.
“Should we experience God through the classical Quran and teachings of the Prophet (Muhammad) or worship God? Ultimately your responsibility is to taste God by worshipping Him.”
But Fareed pointed out that for many people, prayer often becomes an end rather than a means of reaching God.
“That noble quest will always remain a mystery to them,” he said.
LSA freshman Kelly Edwards, who attended three of the week’s four-part lecture series, said she learned a lot from Islam Awareness Week.
“I come from a very homogenous, white part of New Jersey, so initially I came because I’m interested in the Middle East. I think it’s good to have that broad awareness of cultures,” she said.