Ahmadiyya Muslims tip scales in favour of food bank

Ahmadiyya youth group holds weigh-ins to help collect 4500 kilograms of food for charity

Source; Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — This Christmas break, Mohyuddin Mirza will take time to honour Jesus Christ, peace be upon him.

The veteran agrologist and practising Muslim helped found Edmonton’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1969, and usually participates in a holiday symposium recognizing the connections between Islam and a first-century Jew named Jesus.

“Our Christian friends don’t realize that as a Muslim, we believe Jesus is a prophet of God and several teachings are in the Qur’an,” said Mirza. “Jesus, Moses, Abraham, our roots are all there.”

Qur’anic teachings of sacrifice are partly why the Ahmadiyya Muslim youth group decided to collect 9,000 pounds of food — just over four metric tonnes — to donate to the Edmonton Food Bank this Christmas. Beginning in early November during the Festival of Sacrifice, 65 Ahmadiyya communities across the country began collecting 57 tonnes of food.

The target was promoted in sermons, emails and phone calls. Mosque members canvassed the Ottewell neighbourhood with flyers, then returned to pick up donations.

But when the group got stuck at two-thirds of their target, organizers had an idea “that really paid off.”

“We brought in a weigh scale and started weighing everybody after Friday prayer,” Mirza said.

Those who stepped on the scale were given the option of donating their weight or money for half the equivalent of their weight. And after all the food was collected, the group managed to exceed their target by a thousand pounds, or 450 kilograms.

“We had people saying ‘I want to take off my shoes,’ ” Mirza laughed, adding that about 150 members voluntarily stepped forward.

On Thursday afternoon, a handful of community members began disassembling a wall of flour, rice and sugar at the Al-Hadi Mosque, piling the food into a Food Bank cube van.

Ahmadiyya is a worldwide reform movement within Islam that began in India in the 19th century. The movement stresses peace, says Mirza, teachings found within the Qur’an.

Mirza, director of outreach and president of the Ahmadiyya seniors group, said Muslims are often occupied with their own community functions, but the group thought Christmas is a good opportunity to show it is also interested in donating to the needy.

“It doesn’t matter what religion we belong to, we wanted to show our sacrifice, our spirit of Christmas,” said Mirza.

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