This page will grow and develop in response to questions that we are frequently asked. To get us started, we asked some students what they would like other people to know about.
Q: Isn’t Islam really difficult to follow? (Khurram, LBU Isoc)
A: No – it’s the basis of our life, not an extra. Once it’s in your daily routine you don’t even have to think about it. From the outside it might seem quite strict and a lot to take on, but when it’s been a part of your routine for years you don’t think of it as an extra responsibility.
Q: How many times do you pray? What are the requirements? (Tooba, LUU Isoc)
A: Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day. The times at which these prayers happen is flexible, and changes depending on when the sun rises and sets. In order to pray, Muslims just need a space where they can lay out their prayer mat and carry out the rituals of prostration (kneeling face down on the floor) and prayer. Don’t worry – we won’t mind a slightly noisy environment, and we don’t need to be by ourselves, although some people may prefer to be. Some people may also prefer to take off their shoes, whereas some people think it’s fine to keep them on. We can pray in most places – but please don’t ask us to pray in a bathroom!
Q: Why is there such a wide variety of ways that Islam is practiced? (Tooba, LUU Isoc)
A: There is a wide variety of ways in which Islam is understood and practised. Some people are very orthodox and adhere to a strict set of rules, whereas others feel they can be more relaxed. There are also a variety of schools of thought on how the Qur’an should be interpreted. No one of these understandings is uniquely ‘right’, different people simply have different views.
Q: Can non-Muslims join in Isoc events to find out more?
Yes! We welcome people from any faith background who want to find out more about what we do or join in our socials.
Q: Why are there so many different Christian denominations and societies?
A: There are many different denominations within Christianity. Some of the reasons for this are historical, some theological, some stylistic, and usually it’s a combination of all of those that leads people towards one denomination or another. The different chaplains who work here represent a range of different denominations, and the student societies cater to a range of different people within the Christian tradition. To find out more about what each society offers, go along and get a feel for what it’s like, or message them and ask what their main emphasis is. To find out about the different denominations you can talk to any of our chaplains and they’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
Q: What is Holy Communion?
A: Christians of all denominations believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God; that he died on the cross and then rose from the grave. In dying without having committed a crime he has paid the price for all of our sins. We remember this through the Holy Communion. Usually once a week, Christians gather to share bread and wine or grape juice that has been blessed by a minister. We use the words that Jesus said at the Last Supper with his disciples. The bread represents his body which was broken for us. The wine represents His blood which was shed for us. We pray and acknowledge that we have done and thought wrong things, ask forgiveness and then each take a little piece of the bread and wine. In many churches, anyone can join in the communion service. In some churches it is expected that you will have been confirmed as a Christian before taking the bread and wine. Check with the minister if you are not sure.
Q: What is kosher food?
A: Kosher means fit or appropriate. Jewish laws state that meat and dairy should never be combined and that only certain types of meat and fish are permissible to eat. Animals are slaughtered in a particular humane way (read also about halal meat for Muslims). The animals that are considered non-kosher are deemed to have qualities or characteristics that do not elevate the consumer, as eating is part of a nourishment of the soul as well as the body. Eating according to a kosher regime is an opportunity to shop, cook and eat mindfully and ethically.
Q: Why are other religions grouped together here? Surely they’re all very different?
A: The 3 religions above (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) are called the Abrahamic religions because they all believe that there is one God who created Heaven and earth. They all have the story of Adam and Eve and their descendants until the time of Abraham, and they all developed in the same part of the world – the Middle East. It is the primary figure in their tradition that led to 3 distinct religions: Judaism follows the Old Testament teaching of Moses primarily; Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament while Muslims follow the teaching of the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in the Qur’an. The root is the same, the branches have evolved differently.
Other religions e.g. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, grew out of the experiences and traditions of Asia. Buddhism isn’t in fact a religion, it is a philosophy. Hinduism celebrates the many facets of the divine as characters through the Vedas: hymns to the ancient gods. Sikhism follows the teachings of ten Gurus through history who each gave insights into God and encouraged a righteous life. These other religions are very different to each other but also have similarities, for example Hindus believe that Buddha was an incarnation of their God Vishnu. Hindus and Sikhs believe in reincarnation of the soul and the cycle of life and death leading to a higher state and a closer relationship to God.