Source: Paris Star –
Prejudice can be viewed as part ignorance and part fear.
That was Meredith Swanson’s belief as she approached the County of Brant Public Library in Paris on Saturday afternoon to ask some questions and educate herself on the Islam religion.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association of Canada (AMYA) returned to Paris on Saturday, March 24, to host another open house to the public about “Shari’a, the misunderstood Islamic Law.”
It was first brought to Swanson’s attention when several AMYA members were canvassing door to door in Paris on March 11, 2012.
“I was curious,” she said.
“I think in a society like Canada’s, it behooves everyone to understand the different cultures and religions a bit more.”
As a high school teacher, Swanson expresses to her students in her anthropology, psychology and sociology course that it’s important to talk about religions and its impact on the world. After being approached at her home and reading an article about the open house in The Paris Star, she stopped in Saturday with some questions.
“I thought the discussion on the role of women was important,” she said.
“I think there is a commonality among religions, but people tend to focus on the differences.”
Over a handful of AMYA members greeted drop-in guests Saturday, while some were out on the streets of Paris spreading the word of Islam and drawing people to the library.
“This is an introduction to the real Islam religion of peace,” said Zaki Ud Din.
“There is such a misunderstanding and misinformation of religion and that ours is a religion of terrorism but that is not true.”
A number of posters surrounded the space used for the open house with information on the Holy Qur’an, Shari’a and the history of Islam. Visitors were welcome to ask any question and were offered any literature free of charge.
“People ask similar questions about women or the Arabic word Jihad,” said M. Hanif.
“Jihad is to struggle, to fight evil, and that has nothing to do with Islam. We are protesting that.”
Hanif continued to explain that AMYA is only there to clear up the misconceptions regarding Islam and to share the message of peace and love.
Nearing the end of the open house, over six people had stopped in to ask questions and learn.
“We enjoy the community,” Din said.
“People are educated here and they listen and appreciate us.”