Islamic organization strives for peace, not blood

MP compares behaviour of ISIS with the actions of Hitler

Source: cambridgetimes.ca

Stop the CRISIS Bill Jackson, Times Staff Serjeel Ahmed (right), keynote speaker with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, makes a point at Friday’s forum in Cambridge while Q&A panel members including national vice-president Amir Sheikh (left) looks on.

Stop the CRISIS
Bill Jackson, Times Staff
Serjeel Ahmed (right), keynote speaker with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, makes a point at Friday’s forum in Cambridge while Q&A panel members including national vice-president Amir Sheikh (left) looks on.

CAMBRIDGE – Radicalization in the Middle East and abroad doesn’t represent people of Muslim faith, according to an Islamic organization reaching out to communities across Canada.

The best way to fight this twisting of religious doctrine, members maintain, is knowledge through education.

During a public forum at Cambridge city hall this past Friday (Nov. 28), members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at decried acts of violence and terrorism as part of their “religious obligation to be loyal and serve and protect the country in which they are living”.

The word Islam is derived from the word meaning peace, noted Serjeel Ahmed, a senior missionary and keynote speaker. He said its people believe in no such thing as blasphemy.

“Our ultimate goal is we want to strive for peace.”

Describing itself as a “fast-growing international revival movement within Islam,” the Ahmadiyya Muslin Jama’at spans more than 200 countries with tens of millions of members.

Its beliefs are fostered in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), who is thought to be a messiah sent by God to end all religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace – Islam’s “true teachings”.

One audience member pointed to contradictions in the Holy Qur’an, which seem to condone violence. But Ahmed contends that it’s inclusive of other races and religions to live in harmony.

“In Islam, all people are free to believe or not to believe,” Ahmed said. “We respect the dignity of everyone.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that’s responsible for the bombings and beheadings of thousands of Muslims in the Middle East is a relatively small group attempting to misconstrue Islam to fit their own agenda, he emphasized.

“Everything they are doing is utterly un-Islamic,” he said. “No video of Osama bin Laden or jihadist Twitter feed is representative of Islam.”

The practice of twisting religious literature to fit a different agenda is not isolated to Muslims.

Though the Holy Bible teaches people to turn the other cheek, some Christians use the teachings to fit their own agendas.

“Catholics and Protestants have murdered each other … all in the name of God,” an audience member noted.

A video segment compared recent attacks by individual extremists to historical killings at the hands of Marc Lépine, Timothy McVeigh and Justin Bourque.

One common thread is that many acts of violence stem from “discontented youth” who are most susceptible to radicalization, Ahmed noted, reiterating that thousands of people, including many Canadians, have found Islam and used it for good.

Though much of the evening was spent dissecting excerpts from the Quran, Ahmed opened with one of his favourite George Orwell quotes: “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

“Even the greatest change has got to start somewhere and we must remember that knowledge and education carry great power,” Ahmed said.

Friday’s event was attended by Conservative MP Gary Goodyear, who said the federal government would continue to work alongside members of the Ahmadiyya community to combat inhumane and barbaric acts at the hands of the ISIS.

Goodyear “felt the terror” while working in Ottawa and said it’s difficult to fathom what some people go through everyday.

“I think we can agree … we have not seen such behaviour by humans since Hitler,” he said.

While part of the Qur’an backs military intervention to stop transgression, such action is essentially up to nations, Ahmed said.

“Education is the key. … We fight them with the battle of the mind.”

Children of those fighting for ISIS believe their father is dying for God and ideology cannot be beaten with bullets, he added. “Our biggest weapon isn’t guns.”

bjackson@cambridgetimes.ca

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