Baltimore Interfaith

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Originally Published in Beliefnet

Last month, I heard hope, felt peace, and saw love. These emotions were quite contrary to what  I had the morning after this year’s election. I remember feeling really confused and insecure about what the future held for me, a young Muslim living in America. About a month ago, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community here in Baltimore decided to have an interfaith session at their mosque, on the 20th of  November, to respond and find solutions to the host of emotions that have been generated because of the election and to unite against all forms of hatred. Despite this Sunday being one of the coldest days of the year, the turnout for the event was much greater than expected. Under one roof  were people sitting shoulder to shoulder, who on the outside, seemed to have very little in common. The only thing uniting them was a yearning to unite a country that seemed to be tearing apart.

The highlight of the event were speeches made by people of different faiths and backgrounds who gave each other a message of hope and support. A professor of psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore campus explained how doing good and having a positive interaction with just one person could result in a chain of goodness that will keep on getting longer and longer. He emphasized that it is the duty of every member of society to get to know each other and not just judge the book by its cover. A member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who also happened to be a former Marine, emphasized that we cannot let America add yet another item to it’s not so proud moments list. Moments in our history when white and black could not sit together, a time when Japanese Americans were put into internment camps, and many others. This event highlighted how much we can all learn from each other. A Jewish woman and a pastor stood at the podium and gave advice to the Muslim youth like they were there very own. The thing that struck me the most was a comment that an audience member made at the end, he said that if the Trump administration makes a Muslims registry then all of us who are not Muslims will register as Muslims as well.

This event showed me the power of interaction; people who came in a little reluctant left with a conviction that Islam was most definitely not what the media portrayed it to be. The problem we have in this country is that 60 percent of Americans don’t know a Muslim (PEW research) and the only exposure they get of Islam is from the media, so naturally people are a little hostile towards it. This is where I feel the media could be playing a bigger role in terms of decreasing people’s hostility towards Islam, rather than further instigating this hatred. It surprises me that a so called free and unbiased media gives so much hype and coverage to the Caliphate of ISIS, but the champion of peace, the Caliph of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, does not get the same attention. Recently, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Caliph of Ahmadiyya Muslim community, concluded his month-long trip of Canada in which he delivered many keynote addresses on the peaceful teachings of Islam. The highlight of his addresses was the address he delivered at the Canadian parliament. Canada is not the first place that he has delivered addresses to, rather he has given these addresses at various places like Capitol Hill, the European parliament, and various other parliaments. The irony is that despite the Caliphs valiant efforts to spread the true and peaceful teachings of Islam and the fact that tens of thousands of people are pledging allegiance at this Caliph’s hand every year, you probably have not heard of him. On the contrary, you most definitely would have heard about the few people who pledge allegiance to the caliph of ISIS. Terrorist organizations like ISIS make up less than 1 percent of the total Muslim population, whereas the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the single largest Muslim sect united under one leadership. Not only that, but the world Christian encyclopedia states that Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the fastest growing sect in the world. This shows how there is a far greater number of people pledging their allegiance at the hands of a peaceful Caliphate as compared to the Caliphate which is based on the exploitation of people’s fear. Yet when we look at what the media chooses to portray and show as Islam, their nearly unanimous pick is ISIS.

Mirza Masroor Ahmad
Mirza Masroor Ahmad

Also, hatred for the Trump administration is not right, the Holy Quran teaches us to obey whoever is in authority over us (4:59), whether we like them or not because this is the true test of democracy. For this reason, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community condemns all the anti-Trump protest that are going on across the country. If we are truly determined to end hate and create unity in America then we can’t just sit back and blame the government or other organizations for causing this rift, every one of us needs to get out of our comfort zone and take the responsibility to know and support each other.

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