World events, particularly involving terrorism, have thrust the Muslim community into the spotlight over the past several years,
often creating a negative view of Islam.
A group of Muslims belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were at the main branch of the Chatham Public Library Saturday to dispel misconceptions some people my have about Islam.
Ansar Raza, a scholar and missionary for the Ahmadiyya community, said, “the very name Islam means peace.”
Unlike some sects of Islam where war has been waged in the name of religion, Raza said that is not supported by a majority of Muslims.
“Nobody should fight in the name of religion,” he said.
“That’s politics, that’s a fight for power to grab the sources of energy,” he added.
He said Islam is about following the teachings of Jesus Christ to love one another.
Members of the Ahmadiyya community have been spending their weekends in smaller communities such as Chatham, including Goderich, Kincardine, Port Hope, Lindsay and Uxbridge, to host information sessions as well as going door to door to talk with residents.
Raza said people have been very nice and also receptive to talking about Islam since they began going out to communities about three months ago.
While the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States created a negative view of Islam, Raza said it has also increased a desire by people in the western world to learn more about the religion.
“The demand for copies of the Qur’an has increased many fold,” he said.
Noman Khalil, of Brampton, said there is a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions around the word jihad.
While the term jihad has been associated with acts of violence or war in the name of religion, Khalil said jihad is actually an inner, personal struggle to resist lust and greed.
He said jihad also involves using force to defend your life, property and honour.
He added it is not meant to go on the offensive, but only to defend oneself.
“If you do an injustice to someone, you can’t (launch) a jihad,” Khalil said.
Raza said there is increasingly a greater understanding of true Islam. He pointed to the recent attack on Islam by Florida pastor Terry Jones, who burned a copy Holy Qur’an by Florida, noting many people condemned the actions.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 by Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, which Raza said has grown to tens of millions of people around the world, including Pakistan, India, Indonesia and African. He added there is about 25,000 members of the community in Canada.
Kathryn Goodhue, director of library services, said the Muslim community rented the space for the event, but noted it is keeping with the library’s new motto: “making connections.”
She said if the library can help people share information and promote starting a dialogue “this is what we see as our role.”
Article by, Chatham Daily News.