Source: Kincardine News –
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Canada returned to Kincardine for their third straight year to teach the community about the values of Islam and the importance of the Virgin Mary over the weekend in an open house at the Kincardine Library.
“In the media we hear about inequality and how women are treated, but i n the Qur’an women and men are completely equal,” said Mahmood Ahmad, Director of the National Executive Committee of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization. “The two are spiritually equal, God doesn’t see them differently.”
The group’s focus this year was to spread information about the value of women in Islam and the importance afforded to the Virgin Mary by Muslims. The topic was triggered by recent reports of violence against women in the news, including the Shafia murder trial, which concluded on Sunday.
“We wanted to highlight misinformation about our beliefs around Mary and Jesus, who are both highly revered in Islam. We also wanted to reference that to how women are spiritually equal to men as far as Islam is concerned,” he said.
According to Ahmad, most people aren’t aware Muslims celebrate the role of Mary, who they refer to as Marian, or the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Qur’an dedicates seven chapters to the depiction of her entire life and even has a chapter named after her.
“Mary is held in very high esteem in Islam, she is the only woman mentioned by name in the text,” said Ahmad. “Her character and her life is a reference point and her status is a pinnacle status in the Qur’an.”
Not only is Mary important spiritually to Muslims, she is part of daily life for Muslim women, said Ahmad.
“She is a role model for all women to aspire to. God has made her an example so that all women can look to her,” he added.
The Qur’an differs from the Newtestament’s depiction of Mary and Jesus in that it doesn’t state either Jesus or Mary were divine. It is also written that Jesus didn’t die during the crucifixion, but was rescued and healed and went on to spend his life uniting the tribes of Israel.
The Qur’an, which is not so different from the Bible in several respects, is a very “holistic” book according to Ahmad. The Islam faith looks to every major aspect of human interest and discusses it in a cyclical way, including e v o l u t i o n , genetics, astronomy and the search for extraterrestrial life, compassion, conflict, prophets and the laws of nature.
The group didn’t just hold t heir third open house in Kincardine this month, they also spent a day canvassing the town with 17 volunteers earlier in January. One of the volunteers, Zubair Afzal, found the community very open and welcoming.
“We went door to door handing out information and asking people to come to the open house,” said Afzal. “The people were very welcoming and wonderful. Not everyone is receptive but the majority of people responded well.”
Afzal said the importance of their work is to create an understanding in Canadian communities about the true values of Islam.
“People in many countries don’t have the rights they deserve and so there is a lot of extremism, but we want to teach people that is not the real Islam,” he said. “This is about increasing knowledge.”
The group is also involved in hosting symposiums across the count ry, where they invite scholars from a variety of world religions to discuss different topics. They also hold approximately 100 open houses in a year and cover all the provinces.
“How can we find the common between us and leverage that commonality to make the state of life on the planet better for everyone,” asked Ahmad. “We have many common problems but we are too focused on conflict.”
Visit www.alislam.org for more information about Islam or about upcoming symposiums. The website also hosts hundreds of online books about Islam, which can be accessed for free.