Rabbi, professor to talk about origins of Islam at area temple

BY MIKE SHERWIN, STAFF WRITER

Temple Emanuel will offer a primer on the beliefs and history of Islam during a two-part Thursday night series, taking place Mar. 1 and Mar. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Rabbi Joseph Rosenbloom, rabbi emeritus of Temple Emanuel, and senior scholar there, will join with Dr. Ahmet Karamustafa, an associate professor of history and religious studies at Washington University to provide a point-counterpoint presentation on “The Reality of Islam.”

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The first talk, on Mar. 1, will focus on the development and the early years of Islam. The second session, on Mar. 8, will provide a historical overview of Islam and the Middle East to the present day.

“Most Jewish people, as well as most Christians, and even a lot of Muslims, don’t know what Islam is, how it began, and what it stands for,” Rabbi Rosenbloom said.

He said some attendees may be surprised at the similarities between Judaism and Islam. “My feeling is that Islam is ‘Judaism in Arabic,'” Rosenbloom said. “They don’t have one single idea that’s different from Judaism, except emphasis on punishment and immortality.”

Rosenbloom said that when the event’s organizer, Temple Emanuel Program Director Ellyn Polsky, asked him for suggestions for another speaker, Rosenbloom suggested Karamustafa, a Muslim, and a professor at Washington University for 20 years.

Karamustafa said he has spoken about Islam to many groups, religious and non-religious, interested in learning about and understanding Islam.

“There’s a lot of misinformation, and a lack of information out there about Islam,” Karamustafa said.

Rosenbloom said he will lead the first discussion about the development of Islam, and its relation to Judaism, and Karamustafa will have time to respond with his views. Karamustafa will lead the second evening’s discussion about the development of Islam to present times. At both events, the audience will have a chance to ask questions of both speakers.

The events are free, and will take place at Temple Emanuel, located at 12166 Conway Road, in Creve Coeur. For more information, contact Temple Emanuel at 314-432-5877.