Local Muslims to participate in national campaign to educate Canadians about Islam

By Chris Zdeb, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON – Local Muslims will go door-to-door in Edmonton and Leduc this weekend as part of a national campaign to educate Canadians about Islam and dispel misconceptions about Muhammad made in an American anti-Muslim video.

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are responding to a call from their spiritual leader in England to peacefully protest The Innocence of Muslims, a video that outraged the Muslim world with its depiction of the Islamic prophet after a trailer of the film was posted on YouTube.

Muslims have a right to be angry but violent reaction must be condemned, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said in a statement issued late last month.

Four Americans, including Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were murdered when dozens of armed men stormed the American consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, bombarding and torching it.

“This is our way of responding to that film, going door-to-door and educating people, rather than what other people chose to do, destruction in the street,” said Khurram Bajwa, president of the prairie region of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association of Canada, an auxiliary wing of the AhmadiyyaMuslim Community.

“Our preference is to knock on the door and talk to people, but if we don’t get any response we put a two-page brochure in the mailbox that replies to that film on YouTube,” said Bajwa, 39, who plans to canvass Sunday with his eight-year-old son.

The youth group, which includes 350 male members aged 15 to 40, goes out every two or three months to knock on doors and talk about their religion, Bajwa said. In the past, they’ve visited homes in St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Fort Saskatchewan.

He expects members of the women’s auxiliary will go door-to-door as well this weekend.

“We’re not there to convert people, we’re just giving the message,” he said. “If they choose not to take (the brochure) or reply in harsh language we don’t say anything back. We say, thank you, peace on you, and move on, but mostly we get a good response.”

Rizwan Rabbani, national executive director of the Muslim youth association, said this is the way Islam teaches its followers to react.

“We strongly condemn the violence by extremists that occurred after the movie was made.”

Rabbani also condemned the attack Tuesday on 14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, a Muslim, who was shot by a Taliban gunman after she spoke out for girls’ education.

“I pray day and night for everybody, not only for Muslims but for Christians, so we can all live together in peace and harmony and so all this extremism and terrorism goes away,” Rabbani said.

The Ahmadiyya community’s last national campaign two years ago was a response to controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones’ threats to burn Qur’ans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. About 3,500 young volunteers visited 429,129 houses, reaching out to 1.7 million people in Canada to promote peace, condemn terrorism and violence, and dispel myths about Islam, Rabbani said.

Besides the door-to-door campaign, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is inviting people to attend seminars Saturday, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the Bait-ul-Hadi Mosque, 7005 98th Ave.

Khurram Bajwa, president of the prairie region of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association of Canada, holds brochures they will deliver door-to-door in Edmonton, Leduc, Red Deer and 47 other places around the country on Oct. 14, 2012. They hope to talk to as many people as possible to educate them about Islam.
Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Edmonton Journal

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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