Muslim youth make house calls in Moose Jaw as national outreach continues

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Source: Radio Canada International

Author: Carmel Kilkenny

Muslim young people were visiting homes in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan yesterday in an effort to dispel the myths and misunderstandings about the second-largest religion, after Christianity, in the world.

Ahmadi Muslims come from an Islamic religious movement established in Punjab, British India, near the end of the 19th century.

“Mosques were universities, places of social gathering. And mosques were for anybody to come.”

These visits were the latest initiative of Muslims across Canada to reach out in the wake of the deadly attack in the mosque in Quebec City in late January. Six men were shot and killed while praying.

“This was a very important campaign, especially after these attacks,” Zeeshan Ahmed, the imam for the Ahmadiyya Muslims in Saskatchewan told CBC. Islam teaches that no place of worship should be attacked Ahmed said.

20 young Muslims spent the day knocking on people’s doors, speaking with people downtown and handing out information about Islam.

“I’m really touched that they’re coming out,” Jean Bell told CBC after a group visited her home. She said prior to the visit she wasn’t sure where she could go to connect to the Muslim community.

Zeeshan Ahmed says one of the things he’s asked about most, is if all are welcome at mosques?

“It was hard for me to understand, really, why someone would think that way. The reality is that mosques were not only places of worship. In history, we see mosques were universities, places of social gathering. And mosques were for anybody to come.”

The outreach continues in Moose Jaw with a public forum will be held at the city’s Public Library on March 18, allowing people another opportunity to come together, Ahmed said.

The Canadian Muslim Vote – 150 Canadian flags raised by July 1st

Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui is the senior communications executive for the Canadian Council of Muslim Women CCMW based in Toronto. She is also a Phd candidate at McMaster University. Among her areas of research is the Muslim experience of living in Canada amid this rising tide of Islamophobia.

She says many outreach projects have been undertaken, and many more have been initiated since the election of Donald Trump.

Ghaffar-Siddiqui is herself a member of an inter-faith group of Jewish and Muslim women, known as The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

The group began in the United States and grew to 50 chapters prior to the American election. Since the Trump victory it has tripled to 150 chapters in the U.S. Ghaffar-Siddiqui is part of the first Canadian chapter in Toronto.

The sisterhood brings Jewish and Muslim women together in efforts to combat hate. They’re currently working on a crowd-funding project raising money for the repairs in a Montreal Mosque that was vandalised in the wake of the killings in the Quebec City mosque.

The Canadian Muslim Vote is another recent initiative with a ‘Sesquicentennial’ focus. It’s a flag-raising campaign, Ghaffar-Siddiqui explains, one of the smaller programs people don’t necessarily hear much about.

“They are promoting Mosques and Islamic institutions to raise the Canadian flag, and it’s done in a ceremonious manner, and the idea is to show solidarity with other Canadians and to show that they are an important part of Canada… Their goal is to raise 150 flags by Canada’s 150th Anniversary.” (July 1st, 2017)

According to Ghaffar-Siddiqui, the word is getting out and the flags are beginning to be raised.

And for the second year, the “Open Doors Ramadan” project is continuing. Muslim families are encouraged to invite non-Muslim neighbours or friends to join them during Ramadan for one of the Iftar meals. That is the evening meal, after sunset breaking the fast, that is happily shared.

Ramadan begins on May 25th this year and runs into the longest days of the year until the summer solstice.