Mohammed Noor Abir is a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) participant from Bangladesh, who is studying desktop support at Edmonds Community College. Here he shares his original artwork and writes about the impact that a course at a local church had on how he thinks about religious communities that are different from his own.
I belong to a Muslim community and I have a firm faith in Islam, but I have always longed to learn things about other religions. When I told this to the dad in my friendship family, Pastor Robin Munshaw, he recommended that I try out the Alpha course at his church. I recently participated the course and it had a big impact on me.
The Alpha course was a 10-week course designed to give people the opportunity to explore the meaning of life. Sessions began with a meal, followed by a short talk and time to discuss what was taught. People attended from all backgrounds, religions, and viewpoints. During the discussions, everyone contributed their opinions and no question was considered hostile or too simple. Questions included: Is there a God? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?
I was really nervous the first time that I went to the church. As a Muslim, going to a church is regarded as taboo in my country. I was especially afraid to tell my mom about the class because she would prefer that I not be involved in other religious activities. Fortunately, after a long talk with me, she understood and told me to go for it.
I was really amazed listening to the stories of the people in the course, and I learned a lot from them. One thing I learned is that no one is perfect. We make mistakes every day and we learn something from those mistakes. I now also have the fullest respect for other religious communities. The Alpha course teaches people to be united and to have respect for other religions. Islam tells people to be in touch with other people, but I didn’t have that experience before as I belonged to a conservative Muslim family. I believe in Allah, and I hope every human being is the best creation of almighty. There should not be any differences in the name of religion, and this is the lesson I have taken from the Alpha. Moreover, I am now more family oriented than before. Once I wanted to leave my family as their thinking was not same as mine, but now I realize that there will be always differences in the way people think, and it should not affect any bond that represents one’s roots.
The Alpha course inspires people to be united, and it helped me to focus on truth and humanity. I have a belief in my mind that one day we will be united. There will not be any extremists, and there will not be any bloodshed. That is what inspired me to create the art you see above. I love this piece of art because it symbolizes something so important, it represents every religion together, and that’s what we need in today’s world. When I return to Bangladesh, I will spread this message to as many people as possible, so that we can make a country free from bloodshed in the name of religion.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.