In the last few months, the Canadian public has been awash in news about Muslims and the Islamic faith.
Between talk of the ISIS movement, acts of vandalism against mosques in Alberta and Quebec and the murders of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, the media depicts a clash between cultures and raises questions about the nature of Islam.
It was these events that inspired the Calgary Journal to sit down with some members of a local Islamic youth group to talk about the nature of their faith, their experiences with living in Canada and their own perceptions of the aforementioned events.
With the media’s focus on mainly negative instances involving those claiming to be doing work in the name of Islam, Canadians sometimes forget that it is only a handful of people who promote hatred, carry out violence or commit murder.
For Calgary’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, which means ‘community’, these are times that call upon faith and love the most.
Based out of the Baitunnur Mosque, located near a busy industrial area in the northeast corner of the city, the Calgary Ahmadi Muslims have been trying to dispel the negative images attributed to their religion and themselves.
The Ahmadi Muslims differ from Sunni and Shia Muslims in their religious leadership. The Ahmadiyya community follows Khalifa Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad whom they believe is the fifth successor of Hazrat Mirza Ghulama Ahmad, founder of the Ahamdiyya Muslim Community.
The Ahmadi Muslims live by the motto “Love for all, hatred for none,” and emphasize that they have a great deal of respect for their Canadian neighbours.
“First of all, I would like to say that Calgarians, Canadians, are truly the nicest people I’ve ever met,” said Behzad Ibrar, a SAIT student studying petroleum engineering.
“I’ve been here for three and a half years and [Canadians are] the most polite, the best models you could say. I would say there is no problem. People are very nice and very accommodating.”
Ibrar, originally from Pakistan, is one of three Muslim young people who agreed to participate in a Calgary Journal group interview organized by Imam Umair Khan at the Baitunnur Mosque on Oct. 25, 2014.
Ibrar emphasized at many points that Canadian values and tenets of the Islamic faith, like community, compassion and peace, are in unison. The soft-spoken 23-year-old man was often candid throughout the interview, taking the lead at various times.
“Islam is such a complete religion. It guides you in each and every aspect of your life. Your relationship with your parents, your relationship with your God, what it teaches you about good and bad…why is something good? Why is something bad?”
Ibrar, joined by Danial Khan, 20, and Ali Shan Butt, 13, comes to the mosque to study the Qur’an with Imam Umair Khan and enjoy the brotherhood and camaraderie that remains a staple of their tight-knit community… read more at calgaryjournal.ca