Source: cbc.ca | By
Zeeshan Ahmed is an Imam for the Regina Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Canada
Three years ago I was one of many Canadians who have never stepped foot on a First Nations reserve. Now I have visited more than 50 different First Nations across this province.
In a province that seems as divided as the rest of the world, it is often difficult to find a common denominator that brings us together from our different walks of life. On my travels I have witnessed commonalities that shape and mold the dynamic fabric of our society.
I moved to Saskatchewan to work as an imam in 2016, fresh out of eight years of theological study. Being a young, recently-graduated imam in North America might sound like a daunting task. The current climate of hostile rhetoric towards Muslims can be disheartening to some.
Before I knew it, I was developing bonds of friendship across the province.– Zeeshan Ahmad
My vigour as an imam was rejuvenated in 2016 when His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, visited Saskatchewan in 2016.
I was revitalized with a strong sense of responsibility to connect with and empower communities in my province, particularly remote First Nations communities. This led to hours of contemplation and discussion on how to approach such a daunting task.
‘It is my duty to build strong relationships’
On my first visit to a remote reserve in northern Saskatchewan, I was excited but unsure of what was to come. Any expectations my team and I had disappeared at the band office.
We introduced ourselves and said we sought friendship between our communities. I’ll never forget the reaction from the chief. He was stunned and amazed that we came all that way.
He had tears in his eyes as he spoke.
“Our people have inhabited these lands for generations and I have been a chief for years, yet no one has ever taken such a step,” he told us.
‘Simple gestures can have such profound effects’
That moment gave perspective to my mission. That day I understood that, as an imam and a Saskatchewanian, it is my duty to build strong relationships with broader communities. To not do so would be a disservice to my faith and to the people of my province.
My mission had become greater than I could have imagined. A sense of responsibility had set in. My ambitions to contribute to a Saskatchewan where we all could build such connections with people from all walks of life grew stronger. Before I knew it, I was developing bonds of friendship across the province…. read more at cbc.ca
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