Tuesday, July 25, 2017

USA: Ahmadiyya Muslims bring message of peace to Fond du Lac Public Library, answer questions

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have been going door-to-door in communities like Fojnd du Lac, passing out pamphlets to educate people about their religious beliefs and dispel myths.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
By Sharon Roznik | July 25, 2017

FOND DU LAC - Ahmad Khan works as a developer in the information technology field for Society Insurance in Fond du Lac.

Not too long ago, he was standing on a corner along Main Street, holding a sign which read: “Meet a Muslim. Ask me anything.”

“People were inquisitive and we didn’t receive any negative comments or reactions,” Khan said. “Folks were waving and honking their horns in a positive way.”

Umair Ahmed had a much difference experience as he marched in Oshkosh's July Fourth Parade, holding a banner that read: “Love for all, hatred for none,” and giving away candy to kids on the sidewalk.

“I heard a typical Islamophobic rant from one of the onlookers. It could be condensed into the sentiment: ‘You are a Muslim, and what you believe in not compatible with our values, therefore you don’t belong here,’” Ahmed said.

On Saturday, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community invited citizens to the Fond du Lac Public Library to help uncloak the mystery of the teachings of Islam. Billed as the "Quran Exhibition to Fight Ignorance in Society," it was hosted by area Muslim youth, who have been going door-to-door handing out pamphlets.

Their message is a simple one. Peace, through education and understanding.

Their campaign, "True Islam," is the religious group's means of combating extremist interpretations of Islam's teachings.

“Our approach has been to go to different towns in the area and distribute these flyers and host programs that spread a message of peace through our Messiah,” Khan said.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a dynamic, reformist movement within Islam. Founded in 1889, it is the only sect to believe the long-awaited Messiah has come in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India (1835-1908). Followers believe he received a revelation that he was the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth, whose advent was foretold by the prophet of Islam, Muhammad.

"The belief is that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and re-institute morality, justice and peace," Khan said.

Ekaan Ahmed, 15, and Damon Stengl, 18, both of Oshkosh, stood outside the library in the hot sun, their "Meet a Muslim" signs held high.

“Our job is to show by example,” Stengl said. “We are a community that preaches love, and our Holy Quran does not condone any forms of terrorism.”

The Oshkosh chapter (Jamaat) of Ahmadiyya Muslims is comprised of about 130 members living throughout the Fox Valley area and northern Wisconsin. The membership's mosque is located in Oshkosh at 300 N. Eagle St.

Refugees  Tahir Rasool and Qaiser Maqsood fled Pakistan because of religious persecution and have been relocated to Oshkosh. Rasoot, a former journalist now working at Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac,  said he is grateful and jubilant to be able to express his faith — for the first time — without fear.

Ahmadiyya Muslims are considered heretics in the Islamic community because of their belief in a Messiah, said Hashim Mumtaz of Appleton, who works at Mercy Medical Center. In May 2010 two mosques of the Ahmadiyya Community were attacked in Lahore, Pakistan, killing 94 people and injuring 120 others.

“We are condemned a lot and have been put in jails for blasphemy,” Mumtaz said. “We also believe in Jesus Christ as a Messiah. He is holy for us, but not divine.”

The campaign means to reclaim the “True Islam” from extremists through 12 principles. The first says Islam “is a religion that wholly rejects terrorism." Other principles and beliefs include equality of women, loyalty to the country of residence and freedom of conscience, religion and speech.

“True Islam is a religion of moderation and of inclusion,” Khan said. “We do not force our faith, nor do we harbor any physical or verbal cruelty on any living creature.”

Earlier this month thousands of Muslims gathered for the 69th annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. Established in 1920, it is among the the first Muslim-American organizations.

“The continued rise in Islamophobia and extremism is a pressing and urgent matter,” said Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, senior vice president of the Community, according to USA TODAY. “We must work together as Americans to effectively root out discrimination and intolerance of any kind.”

The Oshkosh chapter launched its True Islam campaign last year in DePere, where Khan said the city’s mayor was welcoming and appreciative of what they were working to accomplish.

Members of the Muslim group hope to do the same in Fond du Lac by reaching out to government leaders.

“This is our service to the community and a campaign to present knowledge, not convert people,” Khan said. “We feel it’s our job to let people know who we are.”

The 11 teachings of Islam can be found on the campaign's website at  trueislam.com. Visit the Community’s Facebook page at Oshkosh Ahmadiyya Muslims.

Reach Sharon Roznik at sroznik@fdlreporter.com or 920-907-7936; on Twitter: @sharonroznik.

Read original post here: USA: Ahmadiyya Muslims bring message of peace to Fond du Lac Public Library, offer to answer any question

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