For Canadian Muslims such as myself, the practical application and interpretation of our faith is quite different from those whom you may see on television killing people while chanting the name of Islam and quoting verses from Quran. Much needs to be done throughout the world as far as changing the perception of Islam and of Muslims is concerned. The task may be difficult and challenging, but Canadian Muslims are taking it head on.
To begin the year of 2016, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada, the youth association has launched a humanitarian initiative called 'Million Pounds Food'. The objective of this campaign is to work with young Muslims across the country (Montreal, Saskatoon etc) to raise one million pounds of food to feed the needy. The collected food is being donated to local charities throughout Canada. I feel that such engagements and humanitarian works in our local communities help bring down barriers and counter any stereotypes that may exist about Muslims.
We feel that the true battle against extremism and radicalism is a battle of ideologies and education, not one fought with guns and bombs. Canadian Muslims do not consider it Jihad or a religious obligation to fight people based upon difference of religion or ideas. In fact, we consider such behavior to be completely contrary to our true values. We believe that building peace through dialogue and serving mankind is the best application of our religion.
It is with such lofty goals of building peace and helping the needy that the Muslim youths are collecting food and themselves participating towards the initiative of 'Million Pounds Food'. The year of 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Canada. We understand that long before any of these radical groups even existed, the Canadian Muslims have been a force for good and progress in this country. And as a token of our gratitude to this country, the Muslim youth association would organize various blood drives, charity walks and such food collection programs throughout Canada. We want to highlight the numerous services and outstanding contributions of Canadian Muslims for this country.
We have seen various propaganda videos from groups such as Daesh and al-Shabaab. They invite Muslim youths to violence and killing, which we consider to be an absolute perversion and distortion of our faith. The concept of Jihad does exist in the Holy Quran. We understand that Muslims are allowed to take up arms to defend against religious persecution of people of every faith, but what ISIS is doing is neither Jihad nor in anyway sanctioned by Islam.
The message that I want to send out to all such groups is that Muslims worldwide will continue to counter your radicalism and terrorist ideology and will never allow you to succeed in hijacking the faith for your political and material gains. We understand that such groups attempt to divide our societies and then prey upon isolated young Muslims through their propaganda. This is exactly what the Canadian Muslims are trying to fight back against in all parts of our country. Not only do we need to educate young Muslims to keep them away from such groups, but also encounter any anti-Muslim bigotry from dividing our society.
Being an Imam with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and working closely with Canadian Muslims, we are trying to not only challenge the narrative that terrorist groups put out there, but also help build bridges in our society. We also invite all of our fellow Canadians to join us in this momentous task. Of course this task becomes even tougher when in comparison to our efforts for peace, the crimes of Islamic terrorists attract much larger media coverage. Nonetheless, we believe that our efforts will go a long way in contributing towards a more tolerant and peaceful Canada.
For those who would like to help Canadian Muslims in eradicating hunger from our country, you can donate here.
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