By Wadood Janud
July 23, 2022
Every morning before school, my brother, sister and I would sit in front of our TV in the southern hills of Adelaide and watch the best in kids’ entertainment – Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. One morning when we tuned in, instead of these kids’ classics, we saw two buildings burning. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
The Islam I had loved and practised my whole life was suddenly associated with horrible things. This inspired me to choose a path where I could show the beauty of this faith to my fellow Australians.
At high school, I remember strolling into the career counsellor’s office and informing him of my ambition. Mr Stiris took off his glasses, placed them on his desk and said: “In my 30 years of working, not a single kid has walked through those doors and said he wants to be an imam.”
The worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – founded by the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in 1889 – is a revival movement within Islam, prophesied to unite humanity in the Latter Days. It requires its imams to study for seven years at one of its universities. In 2013, after finishing my studies in Canada, I was appointed an imam to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Victoria and Tasmania. A journey that started on that fateful morning in search of Pokemon had brought me to Melbourne.
One of the most remarkable things I learned in those years was that the commonalities of world faiths outweigh the differences. For Muslims, this is fundamental. A Muslim can only be a Muslim if he believes in every single prophet and messenger of God, not just the biblical prophets but also the founders of Hinduism, Buddha and Zoroaster among others.
In recent years, Islamophobia has gripped society, leading to discrimination and abuse. Over the years, I have personally experienced hatred and vandalism at my Bait-us-Salam (House of Peace) Mosque in Langwarrin.
In the early hours of June 19, as my wife and two young children slept on the ground floor, my mosque upstairs was attacked by a gang of 12 intruders. Police have charged eight men, aged 18 to 62, with burglary and trespass.
A group of teenagers has broken into a Langwarrin mosque, riding around on bicycles and smashing windows and displays.
The Koran tells us that the first condition of seeking divine help is patience. However, showing patience and restraint after such an event is easier said than done.
We knew we needed to respond the way the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always done, with the sincere belief that all forms of ignorance can be countered through education.
So once again we opened our doors for Mosque Solidarity Day and invited people from all walks of life to our spiritual sanctuary. Our motto has always been “Love for all, Hatred for none”. It was time for us to prove again that we live by our words.
In the third sura of the Koran, God declares Muslims are those people who have been raised for the good of mankind and to benefit others. This principle, at the core of every Islamic teaching, is why you will find the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the forefront on Clean Up Australia Day and National Tree Day, as well as volunteering for the Red Cross, Cancer Council and other noble causes.
How can you love the Artist but hate His masterpiece? How can you love God but not His creation? Serving humanity and fostering relationships with our fellows is key to establishing peace, love and acceptance.
Wadood Janud is imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Victoria and Tasmania.