AS I SEE IT: A call for understanding of Islam’s place in America

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Originally posted on Telegram

On November 13, simultaneous attacks on six different locations in Paris left at least 129 people dead and hundreds wounded. France has been the recipient of numerous attacks this year, beginning with the horrific attack on Charie Hebdo newspaper, which left 12 dead including a security officer by the name of Ahmed. While the perpetrators claim to have acted in the name of Islam, nothing could be farther from reality.

The Qur’an outright condemns these atrocities when it says, “I will rehearse to you what your Lord has forbidden … that you kill not the life which Allah has made sacred” (Qur’an 6:152). Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad counted the “killing of one soul” among the four “major sins.”

It is important for non-Muslims to understand the true peaceful teachings of Islam. It’s not the distorted ideology that terrorists promote. I’m an American-born and raised Muslim who recently moved to Worcester to further my career and attend WPI with aspirations of teaching chemistry at a college-level. I have always had an interest in theology, and was raised in a religious family that taught me to question and reflect on everything I was learning. For the most part, people I encounter here in the U.S. are understanding and accepting, and even stand up for my place as a Muslim in America. I have however come across Islamophobia in person as well as online, mostly after 9/11, and I hope to use this as an opportunity to open a dialogue for people to speak with me directly or with other people of Muslim faith to counter any misconceptions that arise following such terrorist attacks.

According to the teachings of the Qur’an and the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community condemns these attacks and extends their warmest condolences to the French people. We, as Muslims who believe in the Messiah Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, stand with you in mourning those whose innocent lives were lost. The current head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has stated that “… those who seek to justify their hateful acts in the name of Islam are serving only to defame it in the worst possible way.”

With the increase in tragedies and horrific attacks by extremists, the world needs to make a decision. Do we give in to these extremists? Do we let fear dictate how we treat one another? A whole religion of more than 1.5 billion people has been tarnished by the actions of the few. For over the past decade, the majority of Muslims have outright condemned the attacks of extremists but very few listen. Even today, people cry out, “Where are the moderate Muslims?” It is unfortunate that the media provides extensive air time for extremists, and ignores those Muslims who consistently attempt to mend relationships and build bridges.

However, I have a proposal that can help you in making your decision.

Talk to a Muslim. There are many Muslims whose actions are in accordance with the true teachings of Islam. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) USA, for example, is constantly engaged in activities to help the poor and needy of all faiths and ethnicities across this nation. In 2015 so far, AMYA has fed more than 170,000 hungry Americans in communities across the country and collected more than 5,000 pints of blood for the American Red Cross. This achievement is in accordance with the Islamic teaching that whosoever saves a life, “it shall be as if he had saved all of mankind” (Qur’an 5:33).

Talk to a Muslim who is united with Muslims worldwide under a Caliphate that has existed peacefully for more than 100 years. This is the Caliphate of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which began in 1908 in a small town in India with a focus on waging a peaceful jihad of the pen to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. It has tens of millions of adherents in 206 countries around the world. Their website is www.alislam.org.

Talk to a Muslim who has read the Qur’an multiple times and who ponders deeply over its meaning. Talk with a Muslim who remains loyal to his country of residence and regularly takes an oath – as part of our Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s belief — to remain ever-willing to defend our country with our life, wealth, time, and honor. In fact, we have a “Muslims for Loyalty” campaign that observes our pride in America.

Let us together make a stand against extremists, that they do not represent the teachings of any religion. Why should we let a small and morally devoid group of thugs dictate that we should live in fear and doubt over one another? America is the land of the brave, and true courage is shown when we forget our petty differences and try to understand one another.

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