Canada: Lloydminster Ahmadiyya Muslim group looking to spread true message of Islam

‘Islam Understood’ the thrust of campaign

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association launched a nationwide campaign March 5 titled “Islam Understood” to provide Canadians with the opportunity to learn the true teachings of Islam.

At a local level, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at spoke with the Source about the campaign and the message that is trying to be portrayed.

Tariq Azeem, imam/missionary with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Lloydminster, said in the world right now there are many misconceptions regarding the faith of Islam.

“We, our youth, has taken this challenge that we go door-to-door and we go town-to-town and remove these misconceptions,” Azeem said.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association became involved because they are the first ones that need to be educated, Azeem said.

“Youth are the strength of any community that can go out and convey the message,” he said.

Azeem explained sometimes people hear things through the media or through social media, which is not true, but people start believing them.

“Many times regarding our faith people have not met with Muslims or had not had proper interactions with the Muslim in their life, but they are believing things that they have heard from the Internet or social media,” he said, and added they believe it is necessary people get their knowledge from the right source.

On March 5, Muslim youth canvassed in more than 65 towns as well as several downtowns in Canadian cities to speak with Canadians about the Islamic faith.

Although canvassing did not take place in Lloydminster, Azeem said some of the Muslim youth from the Border City travelled to North Battleford, which does not have a large Muslim community, to speak with locals about the faith.

“It went quite well, there were different individuals, (and) majority were very happy and pleased to see that a Muslim group is going around spreading the message of peace,” Azeem said.

“Of course there are some people that are not always happy, but as mentioned it is necessary to give an opportunity to each individual to learn about different cultures and faiths.”

To further spread the message of the faith, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association will be sharing their message on social media and at exhibits in over 100 Canadian cities.

To date, more than 50 open houses have been held across Canada.

On March 13, an Islam Understood Open House will be held at the Lloydminster Public Library from 6 to 8 p.m., and Azeem encourages people to attend the event and chat.

There will be a small presentation on various aspects of Islam and will provide opportunity for resident to ask questions, Azeem said.

“What they might have heard through social media or through other means, may it be regarding the teachings of Jihad, maybe the status of women in Islam, or how does Islam promote charity, or any other aspect of the religion, we encourage people to come and visit us and ask questions.

“This is why we have held this event and we will not shy away from any answer. We encourage people that they openly ask any questions and they not be shy about it,” he said.

Azeem said he hopes to present the actual, true image of the Islamic faith.

“Our religion teaches peace, our religion teaches love for all, hatred for none. This is the message which we wish people will take away from this gathering at the library.”

Regarding recent incidents in Canada and neighbouring countries, Azeem said they find it necessary to get out and learn about other faiths.

“Islam is the largely most misunderstood religion in the world,” he said. “If somebody just thinks about it, there are 1.6 billion people in the world that adhere to this faith.

“So instead of assuming things towards 1.6 billion people in the world, we should give every culture, faith, (and) religion a chance and we should learn about it,” he said.

Indonesia: Salafism a ‘Dangerous’ Saudi Import, Some Say

Saudi Arabia’s puritanical brand of Islam – Salafism – has come under scrutiny in Indonesia as the ruler of the oil rich kingdom made a state visit to Jakarta last week.

Religious and rights groups have questioned whether Salafism has fueled violence and intolerance in Indonesia, a sprawling and diverse country where Islam took root in cultures shaped by Hinduism, Buddhism and animism.

Salafism is a Sunni Muslim movement that embraces a literal interpretation of the Quran and a return to the traditions of the era of the Prophet Muhammad.

The movement’s belief is “dangerous” and being exported into Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, through educational aid by Saudi Arabia, said Ali Munhanif, a senior researcher at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta.

“The movement emulates life in the early Muslim era and leads to anti-modernism, and opposition to the development of society. Anything else is considered un-Islamic. That kind of idea is dangerous,” Ali told BenarNews.

Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries “have been providing scholarships for Indonesians to study there with the hope that they will bring these concepts home,” he said.

Public relations

The official “Wahhabi” religion of Saudi Arabia is based on certain segments of Salafism, and reports have claimed that Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism.

The visit by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to Indonesia may be an attempt by Saudi Arabia to allay these fears, some reports suggested.

“Now that Wahhabism has been linked with radicalism and even terrorism, the Saudi government has stepped up its campaign to counter that perception and the state visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Indonesia, where religious conservatism has gained ground alongside frequent terrorist attacks, was part of the public relations campaign,” the Jakarta Post daily said in a report at the end of the state visit on Friday.

The King, who is holidaying in Bali, called for a united front to deal with what he termed “a clash of civilizations” and terrorism in a speech to Indonesian lawmakers last week.

“The challenges that the Muslim community and the world in general faces, like terrorism and the clash of civilizations and the lack of respect for a country’s sovereignty, require us to unite in dealing with these challenges,” the monarch said, according to the Jakarta Post.

King Salman also met with leaders of Indonesia’s major Islamic organizations and promoted a tolerant version of Islam as the key in the fight against terrorism and radicalism, the paper said.

Secular Indonesia has grown increasingly concerned about security after suffering a series of terrorist attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Last year, a terror raid in Jakarta claimed by the Islamic State left four attackers and four civilians dead.

Azyumardi Azra, Muslim scholar and former rector of the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, said some examples of Salafi or Wahhabi influence in Indonesia include Jemaah Islamiyah, the group that mounted the Bali bomb attacks, and Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, the group led by jailed cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

He also said that one goal of Salafism propagated by Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia is to offset the spread of Shia Islam. Shia Muslims are in the majority in Saudi Arabia’s arch rival Iran, as well as Iraq, among other countries.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the calls by some conservative clerics in Indonesia for the persecution of minority Shias and Ahmadiyah members.

Tuition-free

Since 1980, Saudi Arabia has devoted millions of dollars to exporting Salafism to Indonesia, according to a recent report in The Atlantic Monthly, an American magazine.

It has built more than 150 mosques, as well as several Arabic language institutes and a free university in Jakarta, and sent a steady supply of preachers, teachers and textbooks to more than 100 boarding schools, the report said.

There were 900 Indonesian students in 10 universities across the kingdom as of 2016, according to the Association of Indonesian Scholars in Saudi Arabia.

Many more Indonesians get scholarships to study in Australia, the United States and European countries, according to Abdul Mukti, Secretary of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organization in Indonesia.

“Graduates of Saudi state universities don’t necessarily become the followers of Salafism. It’s usually the graduates of non-formal or private education institutions that do,” Abdul told BenarNews.

One bastion of Saudi influence in Indonesia is the tuition-free Institute for the Study of Islam and Arabic (LIPIA), a branch of a Saudi university that opened in South Jakarta in 1980. The curriculum is entirely in Arabic; male and female students are segregated.

Alumni of the school include Habib Rizieq, head of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which has been at the forefront of attempts to oust the ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta on allegations he blasphemed against Islam.

Another is Laskar Jihad founder Jafar Umar Thalib. Disbanded in 2002, Laskar Jihad recruited Muslims to fight Christians in Ambon, where some 5,000 people were killed and more than 700,000 displaced in communal violence between 1999 and 2002.

In check?

Despite the concerns over Salafism, Saudi Arabia is expected to forge ahead with its campaign to spread its version of Islam as it plans to open new campuses of LIPIA in Makassar, Surabaya and Medan, the Jakarta Post reported.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s moderate Muslims are hoping the country’s mainstream Islamic organizations can keep a check on Salafism.

“The movement is not so compatible with Indonesia’s multicultural society,” said Ali, the researcher.

“The role of Nahdlatul Ulama in supporting the nation’s independence was so strong, and Muhammadiyah too, in modernizing Islam,” he said, referring to the two biggest groups that collectively claim tens of millions of members.

Scholar Azyumardi agreed, adding that it was important for the government to encourage both organizations’ role to be in line with the government’s goal of developing a multicultural society and maintaining religious tolerance.

“They are too big to fail. I don’t see the worst scenario [of the rising influence of Salafism],” he said. “but it calls for vigilance and consolidation among moderate organizations.”

But Indonesia has a new mass religious organization, Wahdah Islamiyah, which follows Salafi practices and has branches in every province and more than 174 schools.

It was founded in 1988 by students in Makassar who severed links with Muhammadiyah because of its adoption of Pancasila as a founding principle, according to Chris Chapin, a researcher with the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. Pancasila, Indonesia’s state philosophy, emphasizes national unity and pluralism.

UK: Waltham Forest Ahmadiyya community call on walkers to help raise charity cash

Members of Waltham Forest’s Ahmadiyya community are calling on volunteers to get their walking boots on to raise charity cash.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association will stage their annual Charity Walk for Peace on Sunday, May 14.

Fundraising efforts were launched at a special event in Stratford last Friday (March 3), attended by more than 300 guests and dignitaries.

The walk was first held in 1998, when it raised around £1,500. Since then, the event has raised more than £3.5 million for good causes, including the Royal British Legion and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Last year a total of £504,000 was raised and this year several charities in Waltham Forest will be given proceeds from the walk, with volunteers hoping to raise around £750,000.

Mubasher Ahmad, of Erskine Road mosque in Walthamstow, said: “We used to give to the larger charities but this year we really want to give to local grassroots charities.

“That is the focus this year, we’re looking to raise money for eight to 10 Walthamstow charities.

“About 2,000 people took part last year and we want 4,000 to take place this year.

“It is a very scenic route along the river, past the Emirates Air Lift and the Excel Centre, it is only about five miles and it is very flat, so it is very family orientated, anyone can do it.”

For more information on taking part in the walk, or to find out how your charity could become a beneficiary, visit: charitywalkforpeace.org or email: info@charitywalkforpeace.

Pakistan: Hindu woman axed to death in Balochistan province

The victim’s brother in Balochistan says she was killed by ‘influential people’.

A Hindu woman has been axed to death in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province. The police, who are hunting for the killers, are still unsure of the exact motive for the murder.

The incident took place in Baba Kot area of Nasirabad district. Balochistan province has been hit by a sharp surge in violence, including sectarian conflict.

Officials say the victim Zania Kumari was killed by an unknown number of people and a case has been registered. Jalo Ram, the victim’s brother, was quoted as saying by local news networks that Kumari was killed by “influential people” in the area for no apparent reason.

Ram has urged top Baloch authorities to provide security cover to the family following the murder.

This is not the first time minorities have faced brutal attacks in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Minority communities such as Hindus and Christians have been facing attacks in recent years, despite the government’s efforts to reach out to them.

In addition to the public persecution of minorities, Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws based on Islam. Anyone found insulting or mocking Islamic principles or religious figures is given harsh punishment including the death penalty.