Peace and love was the message Noman Khalil of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada and his colleagues brought to Elliot Lake.
Khalil, a Muslim of the Ahmadiyya Islamic sect, and his associates, were at the Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre to educate anyone
who would listen on Islam, Muslim culture and specific aspects on their particular Islamic faith.
Inside the lobby area were tall stand-up posters detailing the history of Islam, the Ahmadiyya sect and its teachings. Sect members spoke with visitors and handed out free literature. The Elliot Lake stop was part of a Northern Ontario tour. While Khalil explained that education is important, what pushed this tour forward was when American pastor Terry Jones’ burned of a copy of the Qur’an in March.
While there has been tension between some Muslims and some
non-Muslims the burning of the Qur’an generated violent responses in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Members of the Ahmadiyya sect felt a peaceful counterpoint was needed and began a tour of large and small communities.
“We came here to hold an open house to spread the message of peace and condemn terrorism,” says Khalil.
“Our main slogan is ‘Love for all, hatred for none.’ We live by it.”
Khalil says members of this sect incorporate this idea in their day-to-day activities.
“We are giving people an opportunity to come out and get books and ask us questions about the real Islam.
“In these open houses, our main purpose is to get people to come out and get rid of the misconceptions they have about Islam, about jihad.
“There is so many concepts that the extremists of the world… have ruined.
“Like jihad actually means a struggle within yourself to stay away from the sinful thoughts. That is jihad. Now compare that to the other Muslims that are giving the holy war.
A holy war is not allowed in Islam. In Islam, they say if you kill a single person it is like you have killed all of mankind.
“That goes against the concept of jihad. And this is why we are here. People in northern communities don’t know the real Islam. And all this comes from the Holy Qur’an.”
While violent people have always been in th
e minority when compared to the entirety of the world’s population acts of destruction get more media coverage.
This can have the effect of painting an entire people with a broad brush. This perception had the effect of getting Khalil and like-minded citizens to go out and offer education on Islam.
“This is why we are standing up. Our founder said if there be a holy war do it with a pen. If you want to go out there and debate talk to people.”
But not every person they met was willing to listen. Khalil says in larger urban areas indifference is a problem.
That was not the case in Elliot Lake last week.
“I think the civic centre was a blessing for us. Yesterday, we had a mining tour and the place wa
s filled with people. And a lot of them came in here.”
About 20 also departed with books that were freely given out.
“The people of Elliot Lake are very nice I have to say. And most of them are very accepting. And they always receive you with a smile, which is very rare in the cities. It
‘s a very nice thing.”
No matter how successful or how unsuccessful Khalil is in meeting people at events or visiting them door-to-door he and his colleagues are determined to get their message out.
“When you want to get the message across there are rules. One, knowledge has to be free; and two, it has to be (delivered) with persistence.
“Persistency always wins. And if it’s a true message people are always accepting.”
Article by, Elliot Lake Standard.