The Big Land has left a big impression on Fazal Malik and Abdul Qureshi.
As members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — Malik, based out of Charlottetown, PE, and Qureshi from Halifax — the two men travelled to Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay recently to give public presentations on Islam as part of their community work.
“The purpose is to build good relationships and build bridges with other people,” Malik explained over coffee at Tim Horton’s in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“It’s very easy for people to get negative information these days, especially with everything going on with Paris, Lebanon, ISIS, etc. The religion of Islam, which we both follow, is under attack. And insane and heinous acts are being committed against humanity in the name of God.”
Qureshi added a lot of those people who are participating in the ongoing violence have no choice.
“These acts are being committed in the name of Islam which has absolutely nothing to do with Islam — Islam means peace — because they are given no choice,” he said. “I know of people whose children were kidnapped…in Syria — they either kill you or take you away with them. And they are…threatened to do those things.
“I think if we do not take part in being a solution to the world crisis right now, then we’ll be part of the problem.”
Malik said he and Qureshi are trying to reach out to as many as people as possible — through media and other avenues — to spread the true teaching of Islam and give the public an opportunity to ask questions.
Malik gave a presentation in both Goose Bay and Labrador West titled, “Is Islam a threat to Canada?”
“It was about what does Islam teach? What is the source of Islam? The two primary sources are the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet. Then I take topics such as Jihad and loyalty to country, and give examples from the life of the Holy Prophet — how did he react when he was in that situation? What did he teach us? Anything which is contrary to those two sources is not Islam.”
Malik noted the discussion after his presentation was “amazing.”
“People are curious, they want to know,” he said. “It’s very easy to fear what we do not know. Seeking out knowledge is important. Seeking out correct information is vital. Venues like these allow us to present correct information.”
Qureshi said the only information most people seem to get with regards to Islam is negative.
“What Fazal and I try to impress upon people is, Islam is not a new religion with ISIS — it didn’t start with ISIS or al Qaeda or anything. It started 1,500 years ago. And if this were the Islamic message, it would have died its own death. Because nothing negative has ever continued, whether it was the Nazi’s or apartheid in South Africa, or KKK or whatever — they all died their own death because hate never wins. Love always wins. And that is the motto for Islam and in particular for our community: love for all, hatred for none.”
Qureshi also gave a presentation while in the region called, ‘Stop the CrISIS’ to high school students.
“Reaction from teachers and students was overwhelming,” he said. “We’re exposed to all this wrong information. And wrong association with the religion of Islam. We firmly believe that no religion has ever condoned violence, no matter what the name of the religion is.”
Qureshi said there is also a certain message he tries to impress upon students, in particular,
“There are hundreds of millions of children around the world that would love to trade places with them. So don’t let the opportunities and privileges go to waste. Make something of yourself. We should not take them for granted. I know just an hour of discussion does not create change, but it can initiate a change.”
Qureshi said the world is not as small as it once was and people need to take an active role in world events.
“We can’t just be bystanders and watch things happening,” he said, noting the reaction nationally and provincially to the Syrian refugee crisis.
“One of the questions I was asked was about the Syrian refugees. And I said, ‘Look — it would be very un-Canadian for us not to welcome people in this plight.’ Because throughout our Canadian history, that is what we have done; we have done good things.
“Yes, we should welcome them, we should invite them. But we must do our due diligence.”
Qureshi said in his mind, Canada is the best country in the world in which to live.
“I want to make sure my children can enjoy the same Canada I have enjoyed,” he said. “If I can do a bit in that, that’s what we are doing.”
Malik added they received very positive feedback on their presentations while in Labrador, adding they have both been asked by the RCMP and RNC to come back in the future to speak with their members.
“People always ask, when are you going to do this again?” said Malik. “The answer is, whenever you want us to, we will be back here again.”
For more information on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, visit www.khalifaofislam.com or www.loveforall.ca.