Muslim ambassadors invite dialogue

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OWEN SOUND – Four Muslim men invited questions about their moderate interpretation of Islam Saturday at an open house in the Owen Sound public library auditorium.

In the wake of extremist beheadings and killing in the name of their religion in France and the Middle East and in lone-wolf attacks in Canada, a man who came to the open house declared ISIS is “going around killing people” and that isn’t right.

Volunteers Quodoos Ataul and Naeem Sheikh, who stood behind a table with copies of the Qur’an and information pamphlets at the door, condemned ISIS, or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is the former name of the Islamic State, saying it misuses their holy book to justify killing.

Sheikh, born in Pakistan and resident of Canada for 17 years, said ISIS is a political organization which wants to take land and manipulates people to gain support.

Imam Ansar Raza, a middle-aged man who works for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a full-time missionary, entered the room and joined the conversation.

“We do not condone what these Muslims are doing because, we condemn it. Strongly. It’s not Islam what they’re doing. You feel enraged? We feel more enraged than that because they are using the name of our religion,” he said.

The group’s Owen Sound visit was part of an outreach campaign on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, one of dozens of branches of Islam. Owen Sound is one of 33 communities Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association members are visiting across Canada. This was a return trip to Owen Sound.

They drove from Maple, north of Toronto, and weren’t aware that a new Muslim association had recently opened in the city, Raza said. Its representatives weren’t part of the event and may not have known about it, he suggested.

In an interview, Raza said Ahmadiyya followers are obliged by their Prophet Ahmad’s teaching to denounce misuse of the Holy Qur’an when used to justify killing. The Prophet Muhammad in the Qur’an taught killing must only be done defensively, if war is imposed on you.

“So when people attack you, if you don’t kill them, they will kill you. So God said where ever you find them, kill them,” Raza said.

Some Ahmadiyya beliefs are outside those of some Muslims. They believe Jesus died. They also believe they’re obliged to actively spread their interpretation of Islam.

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