Friday, March 10, 2017

Canada: Ahmadiyya Campaign in High River seeks to remove Islam misunderstanding

“We hear about Islam all the time in the media. We hear about Muslims. There’s a lot of talk on what is happening in the Muslim world, the Middle East, Syria and other Muslim countries.”

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: High River Times
By Kevin Rushworth | March 9, 2016

In order to build bridges and take down barriers, youth members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at community launched a nation-wide campaign to remove misconceptions surrounding the Islamic faith.

Thousands of Canadian Muslim youth chose March 5 to travel to towns and cities across the country, as part of their initiative Islam Understood. One of the towns youth visited was High River.

Taha Syed, missionary in the Calgary chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, said the purpose is not to preach, but to provide information about Islam and give people a chance to ask questions.

“Canada is a country where everybody lives together peacefully,” he said. “If we start a movement... and educate people, (we can) reach out to them and let them know what Islamic teaching is.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community was formed in 1889 and spans over 200 countries with membership amounting to tens of millions of people, according to a media release.

It’s the only Islamic organization to believe the messiah has already come in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835 – 1908) of Qadian, India, the document states.

“The Community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and re institute morality, justice and peace,” the statement reads.

Syed said the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is separate from both Shia and Suni Islam.

However, this campaign comes during increasing controversy around the faith leading to misunderstandings about Islam and growing apprehension of Muslims, according to the release.

“We hear about Islam all the time in the media,” Syed said. “We hear about Muslims. There’s a lot of talk on what is happening in the Muslim world, the Middle East, Syria and other Muslim countries.”

Terrorists continue to commit violence in the western and Muslim world and still call themselves followers of Islam, he added. The BBC recently reported a hospital attack in Kabul that took 30 lives.

Followers of the so called Islamic State (IS) are said to have claimed the March 8 attack as their own.

“A lot of people who don’t know about Islam, sometimes attribute these (such) acts of violence to Islamic teaching,” Syed said. There’s also growing Islamophobia in parts of the world.”

A tragic mosque shooting recently occurred in Quebec City on Jan. 29, an event Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to as a “terrorist attack on Muslims.” Six people were killed during that siege.

“The campaign comes at a time when curiosity about Islam is at its peak and the public desire for more information is rapidly increasing,” the press release stated, referring to the attack as an example.

Syed said Islam is a teaching of peace and the campaign is an attempt to create a better atmosphere for everyone in Canada. One terrorist organization, IS, is in the media more so than others due to atrocities.

“It’s a perversion of everything,” he said. “No religion can teach any of the things IS is saying. In fact, even people who do not follow any religion would not do anything like that.”

“Just as a human being, we know the things they are doing are completely wrong.”

Syed said IS attributes their actions to Islam, something he noted as being “really wrong.”

“We need to make sure we let everybody know this is a complete perversion and it’s not compatible with any religion, their philosophy or their teachings,” he explained.

With questions still surrounding the new United States travel ban, Syed said the atmosphere south of the border has Muslims and non-Muslims alike wondering what the future has in store.

“We’re grateful we’re in Canada,” he said. “We’re not seeing that kind of behaviour. On the contrary, most Canadians are standing up to freedom, rights and they’re standing up in favour of Muslims too.”

In saying this, Syed noted he hopes the situation improves, but that concern does exist especially for those members attempting to travel into the United States.

Whereas youth are hosting exhibitions in larger urban centres, the initiative in High River, and other smaller towns, focused on members going door-to-door with flyers and information, Syed said.

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