USA: ‘Meet a Muslim Day’ in Seattle a chance to display true face of Islam, young men say

Ahmad Bilal, Faiez Ahmad and Luqman Munir couldn’t have been better positioned to talk about being Muslims than the cultural crossroads of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle on Saturday.

The trio, all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, took part in the organization’s “Meet a Muslim Day,” an effort in cities around the country to dispel myths about Islam and put a human face on a population that’s been the subject of stereotypes, public suspicion and in extreme cases, threats and violence.

For three hours on a showery Saturday, the men stood among the throngs of tourists and St. Patrick’s Day parade spectators at a corner of Fourth and Pine with a sign that read, “I am a Muslim: Ask me anything.”

Young Muslims with similar signs fielded questions at Seattle’s Green Lake, University District and Pike Place Market, too.

At Westlake, 30 or 40 people stopped by to speak with Bilal, Ahmad and Munir, including people who’d come for the parade, making for a vivid, impromptu cultural exchange.

The men showed off mobile-phone pictures of them posing with smiling, green-clad parade revelers.

They said they even had a productive discussion about Islam and Christianity with a man standing a few feet away holding a sign imploring onlookers to “repent and believe the gospel” of Jesus Christ.

“He gave us some knowledge and we gave him some knowledge,” said Bilal, a 20-year-old student at South Seattle College.

They invited the man to visit their mosque. He agreed to come, Bilal said.

While concerns about Islamophobia and the need for greater Muslim outreach have run high since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the controversy over President Donald Trump’s original and recently revised restrictions on certain Muslim immigrants and refugees gave those issues new urgency.

Violence and threats with religious overtones have become a pressing issue for other faiths, too. A spike in threats and incidents involving Jewish community centers, synagogues and cemeteries has put the nation’s Jewish community on edge.

In Kent, police are searching for a suspect who shot a Sikh man in what’s being investigated as a possible bias or hate crime, and in Kansas, two Indian computer engineers were shot by a gunman who yelled “get out of my country.” One of the victims in that shooting died.

Recent studies by the Pew Research Center show that most Americans don’t personally know a Muslim and that Americans are generally “cooler” toward Islam than other religious faiths. But getting to know someone who is Muslim leads to warmer feelings and more positive attitudes, their research suggests.

For Bilal, Ahmad and Munir, participating in Saturday’s event served as an opportunity to show that true Islam is about people like them, not the violent extremists who tend to capture headlines.

“I’m here to say that our religion is for peace; Islam is for peace,” Bilal said.

The men’s bold act comes on the heels of a visit to that very intersection in February by U.S. Marine and Muslim-American Mansoor Shams, who traveled the country with his own “Ask me anything” sign to encourage conversation about Islam with non-Muslims.

Bilal, who is Pakistani, said he lives with a host family in Seattle that once harbored negative attitudes about Islam, but having contact with him has changed their views.

The men know they won’t be able to end Islamophobia by themselves, but Munir is optimistic that events like Meet a Muslim Day will make a difference.

“Time heals,” he said. “We’ve just got to stick with our message.”

The men’s provocative sign asked passers-by to “ask me anything,” which might have led to some pretty awkward conversations. But most people simply expressed support rather than take them up on that offer.

“One lady asked me, ‘Do you want a hug?’” said Munir, a 25-year-old recent engineering grad. He said yes and the woman gave him a warm embrace.

Earlier, as Bilal walked to Westlake, a different woman who noticed the sign called out “I love you,” so Bilal shouted “I love you back.”

“Most people don’t care about religion,” Bilal said, recalling the encounter. “They care about peace.”

India: Masngalore Ahmadiyyas stage faith outreach effort to promote True Islam

Ahmadiyya, a reformist sect of Islam, was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in Punjab, India. Hazarat Ahmad, who claimed to be the promised reformer awaited by many religions in the latter days.

Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s Mangalore Chapter in Karnataka, India, organized a faith outreach event to propagate the peaceful message of Islam-Ahmadiyya in Udupi, a costal city, 65 kilometers from Mangalore, and in Manipal, a suburb within the city of Udupi.

On February 19, 2017, a team of ten volunteers, under the leadership of their local president, Muhammad Yusuf, were joined by vice president B.S. Abdurrahim; Ahmadiyya Imam, Molvi Asif Ahmad Khadim; and the youth leader, M. Abdus Salam from the Mangalore Mosque in the leafleting project. rabwah news1

The volunteers distributed more than 700 leaflets and pamphlets to the general public at the two locations.

madiyya, a reformist sect of Islam, was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in Punjab, India. Hazarat Ahmad, who claimed to be the promised reformer awaited by many religions in the latter days.

Ahmadiyya doctrine rejects violence in all forms and promotes a peaceful existence according to the laws of the land wherever people happen to live.

With files form V. A. Rashied, Secretary Dawat-e-ilallah, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Mangalore

— India: Ahmadiyyas in Mangalore stage faith outreach effort to promote True Islam

India: Ahmadiyyas to preach peaceful teachings of Islam at 3-Day Yearly Spiritual Convention in Punjab

India: Ahmadiyyas to preach peaceful teachings of Islam at 3-Day Yearly Spiritual Convention in Punjab

The first annual convention of the community took place in Qadian in 1891 and has been taking place here since, barring a couple of years during the country’s partition.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community announced it will hold its three-day yearly convention in Punjab on Tuesday and extended an invitation to all countrymen to visit the spiritual gathering.

The 122nd Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) will be held in Qadian in Gurdaspur district, from December 26-28. It will be addressed by the community’s fifth and current caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, from Britain through livecast.

“The objective of this Jalsa is to present pure, pristine and peaceful teachings of Islam. Likewise to call people towards their creator, to develop love, affection and compassion among the creations of God, and promote brotherhood, are also its objectives,” a statement issued by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International (India) said.

At the convention, religious leaders of the community from around the country will address people on the tenets of Islam and its power to promote peace and harmony in the world.

A separate gathering of women will also be convened there, where they will discuss their issues and present an agenda to work on during the next year.

Ahmadi is a sect of Islam which is widely perceived to be different from the mainstream form of the religion as they believe that the advent of a messiah, as promised by the Prophet Muhammad, has already happened.

They believe, unlike the mainstream believers of Islam, that the messiah was incarnated in 1835 in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

In 1889, Ahmad proclaimed himself the awaited messiah, and was widely subscribed to be so by Muslims from around the world. The followers of Ahmad thus came to be called ‘Ahmadis’ or ‘Ahmadiyyas’.

The first annual convention of the community took place in Qadian in 1891 and has been taking place here since, barring a couple of years during the country’s partition.

“We are completely same as the other mainstream followers of Islam but for our belief in the advent of a messiah, which they believe is yet to take place,” Shiraz Ahmad, Additional Chief Secretary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, told IANS.

“We have been persecuted in Pakistan for this reason and yet we have never resorted to violence, nor formed any militant body,” he added.

The Ahmadi community was proclaimed ‘non-Islamic’ in Pakistan in 1974 during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Prime Ministership. Later, punitive measures were also imposed upon the community, which barred its members from offering namaaz and calling their place of worship ‘masjid’ (mosque). Instead, they were asked to call it ‘ibaadatgaah’.

“We are discriminated amongst Muslims in India as well. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) doesn’t have a single representation in it from Ahmadi sect, because even they don’t consider us Islamic,” the Ahmadiyya spokesperson told IANS.

“There are about 1.25 -1.50 lakh Ahmadis in India and we all profess our loyalty to India,” he added.


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Messages about Islam stereotypical in Canada

Messages about Islam stereotypical in Canada 

Re: Extremist literature common in mosques, Islamic school libraries, study says (Aug. 22)

News coverage of the recent study titled Lovers of the Death? — Islamist Extremism in Mosques and Schools undermines the work many Muslim communities have undertaken in Canada.

To the effect they suggest all mosques are perpetuating extremist and violent messages, these articles are inaccurate, generalized and stereotypical.

Looking up Canadian news coverage of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, one would actually question if there is any merit to these arguments whatsoever. From relentlessly promoting “Love for all, hatred for none” (our motto), to running nationwide campaigns in colleges and universities across the country to counter extremist ideology, such as “Stop the CrISIS,” our efforts toward peace are endless.

Thus, as a Canadian-born Muslim student, I am upset. I would hope more efforts are made in Canada toward strengthening and building the values that make us a strong country — diversity, multiculturalism and understanding. In order to accomplish this, our discussions need to be more productive and offer solutions rather than sheer criticism.

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: Winnipeg Free Press

“Is Islam a Religion” : A Response to David Solway

“Is Islam a Religion” : A Response to David Solway 

In his article “Is Islam a Religion,” David Solway makes a multitude of inaccurate accusations in his characterization of Islam. Using his own self-serving Quranic verses and cherry-picked traditions of the Prophet Muhammad that are taken out of context and not juxtaposed with other clear verses for interpretation, Solway caricatures the religion of Islam dishonestly to advance his extremist viewpoint. I will address some of his initial points for the purpose that the reader will recognize that the demonized version of Islam that Solway analyzes throughout his piece is of little use for anything meaningful.

To begin, the same descriptions Solway uses to characterize what a religion is in the “common expectation of the term” can be applied to Islam without a doubt. For example, the “community of believers dedicated to the loving worship of the divine” is precisely portrayed in Chapter 51 Verse 57 (51:57), which describes the purpose of man’s existence: “And I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.”

Solway further brands Islam as an “unrepentant politico-expansionist movement…bent on universal conquest.” Unfortunately, the factors he uses to support this viewpoint are weak and nonsensical. The concept of taqiyya, or “deception,” as a means to advance Islam is completely illogical; how is it possible that the prophet Muhammad could have even won over a single person, let alone the hearts of over a hundred thousand near the time of his death (and now over a billion), through deceit? Furthermore, the moral quality of truthfulness can be attested to more in  Muhammad’s character than perhaps any religious or political figure in the history of mankind. Strictly adhering to honesty, Muhammad was known as al-Amin (truthful) and al-Sadiq (trustworthy) before his call to prophethood. During his call, even his sworn enemies could not deny his truthfulness, such as when Abu Sufyan admitted to the emperor Heraclius that Muhammad had never broken his promises. Simply put, no real evidence can be cited that the prophet Muhammad taught his followers to spread Islam by lying.

The second factor Solway lists is “social and cultural infiltration.” While this claim is ambiguous on its own, I challenge Solway to find even one teaching from Islam that advocates for any negative connotation of this vague phrase. Spoiler alert: Not one source of authentic Islamic knowledge (Quran, Sunnah, Hadith) will support such a sentiment.

Lastly, Solway uses the same worn out explanation for how Islam teaches its followers to preach: “bloody violence.” However, I must ask, how could Islam really have spread to the four corners of the earth if the method was through “bloody violence.” If such teachings were really a part and parcel of Islam, would we not see countless Muslims leaving the faith of Islam as soon as they got the opportunity? What about the largest Muslim country in the world Indonesia in which no Muslim army was sent for so-called forced conversions? How could a religion spread through “bloody violence” produce some of the most ardent followers in the history of mankind? Followers who were willing to face some of the most bitter persecution and cruel martyrdoms at the hands of their oppressors. Moreover, in matters or preaching, the Qur’an clearly teaches in 16:126 to call others to Islam with “wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in a way that is best.”

It is important we take a general look at the manner in which the prophet Muhammad spread his message through his compassionate example, divine teachings, and heavenly signs. On the other hand, not a single example can be cited in the life of the prophet Muhammad which calls for a violent coercion on non-Muslims to accept Islam. The most clear demonstration which beautifully, explicitly, and powerfully dismantles such an absurd notion of “bloody violence” as a legitimate means to spread Islam is the Victory of Mecca. One this day, which occurred due the Meccans violating the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, a people that had mercilessly imposed decades of war, persecution, and misery upon Muhammad and his followers were forgiven unequivocally and unconditionally in the greatest act of forgiveness in the history of mankind. If such a reality existed in which the prophet Muhammad wanted to show his followers to ruthlessly subjugate others in accepting Islam, this would have been the perfect instance. Yet (sorry Solway), this is the opposite of what happened. Interestingly, the two years in between the Treaty of Hudaibiyah and the Victory in Mecca in which no fighting took place between the Meccans and Muslims were filled with huge outpourings of conversions into Islam. The propaganda of the Quraysh tribe that the prophet Muhammad was lustful for war (the same deceit spewed by Islamaphobes and extremists alike today) was proven false in the eyes of the Meccans after the treaty, which was completely lopsided in favor of the Meccans, and thus many opened their hearts to the beauty of Islam.

In just a few paragraphs of Solway’s piece, such glaring falsehoods were exposed with simple illustrations of logic. Unfortunately, when rationality and the use of the true sources of Islamic knowledge are taken out when understanding and commentating on Islam, we encounter the viewpoints of not only misguided Muslims but also the David Solways of the world. Sweeping generalizations are his tool, and thus ignorance is his condition.

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: Patheos | Islam Ahmadiyya

British Transport visits Khalifa of Islam

British Transport visits Khalifa of Islam

On 22 July 2016, British Conservative MP & newly appointed Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling paid a visit to the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph) of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad .The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon was also present during the meeting.

The meeting took place at Western Europe’s largest Mosque, the Baitul Futuh Mosque in South-West London. Before the meeting, the Secretary of State was given a tour of the Mosque where he also listened to the Friday Sermon delivered by His Holiness.

According to a statement issued by the Ahmadiyya Community, the MP discussed various matters with the Caliph, including the threat of terrorism and extremism, the ongoing refugee crisis and the future of Britain, in light of the recent EU referendum.

MP Chris Grayling also condemned the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan and around the world.

credit/source:Rabwah Times