Source / Credit: Orangeville Citizen
In this day and age, a handful of Islamic extremists have managed to taint the 2.2- billion member global Muslim community and make the term Islam – in the eyes of many – synonymous with terror and religious intolerance.
Nasir Ahmed, president of the Muslim faith’s Weston region of Greater Toronto, aims to change that.
Mr. Ahmed was at the Orangeville Public Library on Mill Street last weekend for an open house at which he sought to “clear up misconceptions” regarding the faith practised by an estimated 900,000 Canadians.
In an interview, Mr. Ahmed referred to the term “jihad” and criticized some Muslim clerics for twisting its meaning to accommodate their political agenda.
The Western world has come to perceive jihad as a holy war against those the radical clerics often refer to as “infidels.”
“These people say they are Islam, but they have nothing to do with Islam,” said Mr. Ahmed. “The true jihad is when you fight the evil that exists within your own soul.”
He also feels there is no real reason why people of various faiths cannot peacefully co-exist in the Middle East. “Why not?” Mr. Ahmed asked. “If we can share the Creator, why can’t we share the Holy Land?”
While some may harbour concerns that racial and religious intolerance is on the rise in Canada, Mr. Ahmed maintained that this is not necessarily true.
In fact, “Canada is one of the places with the greatest tolerance,” he said. “Canada feels like paradise compared to other countries.”
The countries Mr. Ahmed compared Canada to include predominantly Muslim nations.
He said his sect, Ahmadiyyah Muslim Jama’at (AMJ) has seen its members jailed, tortured and murdered.
In May 2010, gunmen stormed two mosques in Lahore, Pakistan. They opened fire and killed 92 AMJ worshippers.
Mr. Ahmed was asked why there has not been a huge outcry from the Muslim world, condemning the actions of such extremists.
“There are those that are apathetic,” he admitted, “but there are also those who are afraid.”
As well, Mr. Ahmed pointed out that some come from poor backgrounds and are indoctrinated into extremist ways at an early age.
“The kids go away to attend school in mosques at the age of six and they rarely see their families. By 14 or 15, they are ready to be suicide bombers. They are slowly poisoned.”
At Saturday’s open house, there was abundant literature for visitors to take home. Much of the material was written by Islamic scholar Mirza Tahir Ahmad.
One pamphlet, entitled Universal Moral Values, Politics and World Peace, contained the following passage:
“Return to that characteristic of God of which you are informed by every religion, maybe in different terms but the essence remains the same.
“God in Hinduism is as good as God elsewhere in the world.
“The God of Christianity, the God of Judaism, the God of Islam – God is One – this is the meaning of the Unity of God.
“His beauty is One, and this universal and unchangeable.”