Phillip Sherman, associate professor of religion at Maryville College, will present a free course on Islam for five Sundays at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, which is at the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Lafayette Drive.
The classes will start this Sunday, January 10, in the fellowship hall of the sanctuary building.
“This will be an excellent opportunity to separate fact from fiction with respect to the beliefs of our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said the Reverend Sharon Youngs, church pastor. The lecture-and-discussion course, which will end on February 7, is open to the public.
With about 1.6 billion followers, or 23 percent of the global population, Islam is the second-largest religion (after Christianity) by number of adherents (Muslims). According to many sources, it’s the fastest-growing major religion in the world. Most Muslims are of two denominations: Sunni (75 to 90 percent) and Shia (10 to 20 percent).
The titles of the five classes are “The Origins of Islam and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad”; “The Revelation of the Qur’an”; “Sunni and Shi’ia Islam”; “The Five Pillars: Practicing the Faith”; and “Western Encounters with Islam.”
“I am always excited to enter into conversation with folks about Islam,” Sherman said. “I think we find ourselves at a difficult moment in our country. The rhetoric about Islam—especially during the current presidential election cycle—is far more intense and robust than our actual knowledge about Islam.
“I hope these sessions will be a chance for people to talk about their questions in an open and respectful way. Islam, like all religious traditions, is marked by great diversity. I am looking forward to seeing what I learn and take away from my time in Oak Ridge.”
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