PUSH BACK THE DARKNESS
Seeking The Path To Peace
My name is Amtul Ahmad, and I live in Mississauga. I am a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and am an active member of my mosque and help to organize many events within both the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and the larger Peel region.
We, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at, consider ourselves to be Muslims, just as those of the Sunni and Shia communities. However, certain tenets of our faith are considered to be heretical by other Muslims, for example, our belief that Jihad is a tool to establish peace and not disorder. If you are familiar with the history of the major branches of Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism) and their relationship with both Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, the broad strokes of the dynamic between the groups is very similar. Unfortunately for the Ahmadiyya community, being viewed as heretical has led to the ongoing persecution of its members around the world - there are many examples of this, with two major incidents, in particular, occurring within the last 10 years:
* In 2010, 94 unarmed people were killed and 120 injured in simultaneous attacks against two Ahmadiyya Muslim mosques in Lahore, Pakistan; there had been warning signs of this attack, however, the authorities failed to act upon them. This attack led UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to say "Members of this religious community have faced continuous threats, discrimination and violent attacks in Pakistan. There is a real risk that similar violence might happen again unless advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is adequately addressed. The Government must take every step to ensure the security of members of all religious minorities and their places of worship so as to prevent any recurrence of today’s dreadful incident"
* In 2016, in Glasgow, Scotland, an Ahmadiyya Muslim shopkeeper, Asad Shah, was murdered by a man who stated that the reason for the murder was that Shah's statements about his faith were heretical. Shah had emigrated from Pakistan in 1998 and was granted asylum in Scotland, and his murder was described by the trial judge as a "barbaric, premeditated and wholly unjustified killing of a much-loved man who was a pillar of the local community."
One of the core, fundamental beliefs of the Ahmadiyya faith is that we must defend and propagate our faith through peaceful means, and we must have forgiveness and sympathy for all humankind. This guides our actions and our perspectives and is reflected by the work we do with international charity organizations such as Humanity First. We seek peace, for ourselves and for others, and this is what we value above all else in our communities; both here in Canada and around the world. While we understand that those we consider to be compatriots in the Muslim community do not always view us in the same way, we ask that they (and others in different faith communities across Canada) support our right to the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, just as we support their rights under the same Charter. We believe that these freedoms should be available for all people around the world and not just those who live in Canada, and if those freedoms are being violated in other parts of the world then we ask for the support of other faiths just as we offer ours in similar circumstances (such as our condemnation of the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar).
There are many challenges, both large and small, that are faced by both our Ahmadiyya Muslim community and other faith communities here in Canada and around the world. Let us work together as friends and neighbours to address the shared challenges and celebrate the shared successes so that we can move together towards a future where we can disagree with one another about many things, but do so in a peaceful and respectful manner as one larger shared, diverse, and welcoming community.