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Series on religion focuses on different aspects of Islam

Glen Hallick
Ludmila Zamah was the latest featured speaker in the series. (GLEN HALLICK)

Ludmila Zamah was the latest featured speaker in the series. (GLEN HALLICK)

There is a distorted meaning to the word Sharia said a University of Winnipeg educator.

During the third of four lectures on the world's major religions, at the Carman Active Living Centre on April 17, Ludmila Zamah spoke about some of the different aspects of Islam.

In particular, Zamah said, the meaning of Sharia.

"Sharia has become this very scary word," she explained. "but it means Islamic law governing everything, it's holistic."

A member of the U of W's Department of Religion and Culture, Zamah said Muslims praying five times a day is governed by Sharia, as are: religious laws ranging from getting married to pouring water on one's self after going to the bathroom,

"The term has come to mean, I guess, cutting hands off of thieves," she said. "I think it has come to mean penal law and all of these other things."

In part Zamah blames the media for distorting the meaning of Sharia.


"It does seem very different than the law system we have in Canada," she said. "You get this fear of Sharia is coming."

Zamah said numerous Muslims in Canada live under both laws, but do not favour one over the other.

Another word with a distorted meaning is jihad, of which Zamah said there is a greater and a lesser meaning.

The greater is an individual's struggle to do good, similar to how a Christian tries to not sin.

The lesser meaning can refer to something such as a military campaign.


The previous week another member of the Department of Religion and Culture explained the original meaning of symbol viewed in the West as being evil - the swastika.

Robert Menzies said the swastika is upwards to 3,500-years-old and its meaning is the opposite of what it's better known for - well being.

While in India some years ago, Menzies attended a Hindu wedding and a member of the bride's family painted a swastika on his palms.

There people who saw the swastikas were impressed that a Westerner attended the wedding.

Unable to get the paint off in time for his flight back to Canada, Menzies did his what he could to hide his palms because of the symbol's much different meaning.

Gustine Wilton helped to organize the the series, which included lectures on Buddhism, religion in Japan, and finished off with Judaisam and Christianity in Antiquity.

"The turn-out has been terrific, with around 25 people each week," Wilton said.