Muslim physician learns from Holocaust patients

SunSentinel: by Shani McManus —

While he was there to speak about his experience as a Muslim physician treating Holocaust survivors, the two-hour discussion covered a variety of religious and political subjects, and ended with an improved mutual understanding.

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dr. Khalid Minhas, director of public affairs for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, based at the Bait ul Naseer Mosque in Hallandale, was invited on April 23 to address members of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Lantana on his feelings about the Holocaust, and what he’d learned from treating his Jewish survivor patients.

“[The] Holocaust [was] a grave crime against humanity. I wanted to share my sympathies with Jewish people that, as a Muslim, I condemn this horrible atrocity that led to the killing of innocent people,” Dr. Minhas said, explaining why he wanted to address the Jewish congregation.

“In Islam, life is sacred and any attempts to kill people are reprehensible and must be condemned,” he said. “I wanted to convey to the Jewish congregation that I feel their pain and sorrow and assure them that Islam upholds the sanctity of life.”

He called the Holocaust “an act of horror and hate,” and a “reprehensible, massive and state-sponsored persecution and killings of innocent Jews,” just because they were different.

“As Muslims, it is our moral obligation to condemn this atrocity and ensure that people are aware of its scale,” he said. “All wrongs and injustices in the world must be condemned.”

Dr. Minhas said treating his Broward County Holocaust survivor patients, made the “tragedy” of the Holocaust more real to him.

“As a physician my job is to heal people,” he said. “When my patients shared their stories with me, it put a human face to the tragedy. It allowed me a glimpse into their innermost feelings and let me grasp the tragedy on a personal level.”

 Dr. Minhas is a leader in the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, which asserts it is “devoted to interfaith harmony and outreach.” The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is an international revival movement within Islam, and is not without its detractors within the Muslim world

According to its website: the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community “categorically rejects terrorism in any form,” and continues to spread “Islam’s true teachings of moderation and restraint with compassion, patience and prayers in the face of bitter opposition from the Muslim world.”

Asked his opinion of the relationship between Jews and Muslims today, Dr Minhas was frank.

“Unfortunately they are not very cordial at the moment. I’m convinced that the divide is spurred by political differences,” he said. “On theological grounds, there is more that unites Jews and Muslims that what divides them. A lot needs to be done to restore the relationship to the historical level [that] Jews and Muslims had always enjoyed.”

Rabi Barry Silver, spiritual leader of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor called it “a great pleasure” to get to know Dr. Minhas and the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.

“The hospitality of Abraham is on full display by the followers of Ahmadiyya Islam, who understand that Jews and Muslims are spiritual brothers, and part of one theological family,” Silver said. “Their goal of universal peace, harmony and justice is shared by the Jewish people and all people of good will.”

He added that the Ahmadiyya sect, that is often “persecuted” in other parts of the Muslim world is, ironically, welcome to practice in Israel.

“The Ahmadiyya sect has been persecuted bitterly by the same groups that persecute the Jews, which makes Israel about the only safe place in the Middle East where the Ahmadiyya sect and Jews may freely practice their religion without fear of governmental interference or persecution,” Silver said.

“I am convinced that dialogue with those of different faiths, such as the Ahmadiyya Sect of Islam,” Silver noted, “is a very important way to help prevent another Holocaust.”

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