On Campus

On Campus

by / 06/08/12

Meet Omar Alsager

This week we interviewed Omar Alsager on all things Islam. Two of his close friends were there for the ride.

 

 

What is the goal of Vic Muslims?
To bring Muslim students together and facilitate their study.

Tell us where you’re from and a bit about your upbringing.
I grew up in a small village in Saudi Arabia. I did a Bachelor in Chemistry then came to NZ to do Masters and now my PhD.

Ramadan has begun; can you explain what this entails ?
It’s a month where we fast during daylight hours. You can’t understand the suffering of impoverished people if you don’t put yourself through it.

The Arab Spring has raised the issue of whether liberal democracy and Islam are compatible—thoughts?
Liberty is a pillar of Islam. The dictatorships of Arab countries are a result of individual people, not a reflection of Islamic principles.

Shari’a law doesn’t guarantee equal rights for women and men. How do you deal with living in a place that does?
It’s a culture shock but you get used to it. The first couple weeks… [telling laughter]. There is a lot of misunderstanding. For example, wearing the hijab isn’t to imprison women, it’s meant to protect them from lust and rape. Islamic women would be insulted if you asked them to remove their hijab.

Two of you are doing science degrees, how does that mix with having a strong faith?
Omar: Honestly, after all my education, I see no conflict between religion and science. Islam fosters intellectualism and the pursuit of knowledge. We definitely don’t believe in evolution though.

You put a lot of time into your faith, what do you get back?
Mental stability. Being calm, confident and satisfied with life. It’s not just about the ritual, it’s everything. You can study, walk and run with Islam in your heart.

Post-Vic plans?
Omar: Home. My country gave me a scholarship to get educated and go back so I’ll go to give back to my country.

Malaysian: I’m on a scholarship from an oil company so I’ve got to go back and work for them..

Is NZ ‘’home”?
Aziz: I’ve got two homes. Saudi is where my family are and I miss them but NZ is different and I’m excited being here.

Western governments have labelled Turkey a “model” for moderate Islamic states—what’s your take?
I don’t see conflict between Islam and democracy in the first place. Islam promotes the idea of complete freedom.

It’s gay pride week—what do you think about homosexuality? (Queerlient is revealed for shock value)
We believe that it goes against nature and it’s unhygienic. If being gay was normal none of us would be here so it can’t be right. Islam encourages gay people to cure themselves of their abnormality.

So it’s a health issue?
Exactly.

Have you experienced intolerance in New Zealand because of your faith?
None at all and we didn’t expect any.

Where is your mosque and what happens there typically?
Kibirnie. In the mosque you are quiet because you are in the house of Allah and this is your time to be with him. You wash, (ritualistically), so that you are clean in his house. The more people praying, the more powerful the experience.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Stefan says:

    So Muslims are homophobes who don’t believe in the scientific fact of evolution? Good work, Salient.

  2. ex-VUW says:

    Well said Stefan.

    It’s undeniable that many Muslims are homophobes but there are also, people like me who accept them for who they are (scientifically and theologically). It gives me no pleasure to read this as I too used to be in the same circle. Ignorance kills.

  3. Muhammad says:

    “Honestly, after all my education, I see no conflict between religion and science” “We definitely don’t believe in evolution though”. Idiot, that’s a conflict. “For example, wearing the hijab isn’t to imprison women, it’s meant to protect them from lust and rape”. Idiot. If they were showung their face then they would be asking for rape? Get the fuck out. You may have different views but when these views conflict with basic human rights you are wrong. Islam is wrong

  4. Todd Atticus says:

    Whilst it is certainly inappropriate and misleading to promote the views expressed by Omar Alsager as indicative of every Muslim’s, it is clear that they are views held by some people of that community. This shouldn’t incite an attack on one religion; there are Christians who oppose equality for homosexuals as well.

    The views expressed in this piece are undeniably ugly, more so in black and white. I think it unfair to lambast Salient; for while the questions might seem leading, it also reveals a portrait of someone’s faith that others would rather see swept under the carpet. It is only when comments like Alsager’s are aired in public that they can be held to account.

    And this from Kamila Shamsie, Pakistani American novelist and Muslim: “Anyone who doubts that there are widely varying forms of interpretation within Islam has clearly never watched Aalim Online, a popular television show in Pakistan where scholars from different sects debate religious questions. All the scholars proffer Quranic verses and Hadith in defence of their own positions and often end up with radically contrasting views.”