by Waqas Hussain
For many Americans last week looking to spend some holiday time with family and friends at the mall, what they thought was going to be cheerful moments taking pictures with Santa and flying new toy drones in their local Brookstone store turned into a nightmare with panic and terror. All across the country, we were witness to waves of disorder and chaos at our malls caused by disturbed individuals hoping to unsettle the holiday spirit. While the facts have yet to be confirmed, the prevailing theory by law enforcement is these attacks were planned on social media by teenagers and coordinated all over the country.
Hundreds of shoppers can be seen on video rushing towards exits in the malls where these disturbances played out. The scenes are quite chaotic, with reports of gunshots fired in some areas.
The holiday season is meant to be a time where we come together to spend time with our loved ones in peace. As Ahmadi Muslims, the protection of our neighbors and friends during the holiday season is one of utmost importance. While the prevailing view of Islam may be one of intolerance towards other people and faiths, this view is completely baseless and without merit. Islam commands that Muslims protect and serve those of other faiths. This is why, in obedience to these commandments, we have members of our faith serve in the armed forces and police departments. It is with this spirit that we condemn such acts and pray for peace.
While thankfully no lives were lost in this ordeal, these events could have very easily taken a turn for the worse. We are lucky that most everyone was safe from any sort of physical harm. The mental harm caused to these people is bad enough. What will happen the next time these families think of going shopping to the mall? Will they remember this terrible incident and think of staying home instead? This type of disorder and chaos has no place in society. The Holy Qur’an teaches Muslims not to create disorder and chaos in this world. To prevent people from freely leaving their homes by instilling fear into society is an egregious act.
We must look within our society and determine what the root causes of these incidents were. Was it because of the vicious election cycle and the divisiveness of this country? We must not accept to live in society where such fear is instilled during joyous times. Most importantly, we must pray for these individuals who committed these crimes.
by Haris Qamar
“Jihadi!” “Allah-hu Akbar! Look out, BOMB!” This is what I hear when I sit down on the bus back home. I understand that most of my colleagues are joking and aren’t sufficiently aware of the teachings of Islam, thereby leading them to make these statements. In addition, what they say is primarily what the media portrays of Islam, by highlighting almost solely the actions of terrorist groups, but I am here to say that it needs to stop. Media outlets – newspapers, television networks, magazines, etc. – needs to stop focusing on just the cruel un-Islamic acts by terrorists and look more at the virtuous deeds of mainstream Muslims. For example, a Muslim youth group of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a Muslim minority that believes in the advent of the Promised Messiah, celebrated the holiday season by sharing gifts and stories with the elders at HCR ManorCare (@MKA_CentralVA). I know that ISIS and other terrorist groups are hard to ignore, but by focusing primarily on the atrocious actions of these terrorist organizations leads most of the public astray from the true teachings of Islam. Consequently, this leads to development of a negative stereotype of Muslims, one that distorts the true message of Islam.
Islam, which literally means “peace” in Arabic, preaches peace to the utmost importance. Moreover, God specifically commands mankind in countless verses in the Quran to not create disorder in the Earth. One such example is in Chapter 28, Surah Al-Qasas, Verse 78, “Seek not to create disorder in the earth. Verily, God loves not those who seek to create disorder.” So how can a true Muslim, who is supposed to follow all 700 commandments in the Holy Quran, go around killing people and use God as a justification? But this leads me to question what the motives behind the terrorists are? What do they use for their justification, a question critics of Islam no doubt point out? ISIS uses a portion of Verse 5 from Chapter 47, Surah Al-Muhammad, “those who disbelieve, smite their necks”, to justify their actions (Sreenivasan). But if you look at the entire verse, God says:
“And when you meet in regular battle those who disbelieve, smite their necks; and, when you have overcome them, bind fast the fetters — then afterwards either release them as a favour or by taking ransom — until the war lays down its burdens. That is the ordinance. And if Allah had so pleased, He could have punished them Himself, but He has willed that He may try some of you by others. And those who are killed in the way of Allah — He will never render their works vain.” (47:5)
God specifically says “In regular battle”, not in day to day actions. Earlier, in Chapter 20, Surah Al-Hajj, Verse 40, God says, “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah, indeed, has power to help them”. However, these terrorists would argue that they are in a war…a Jihad. Jihad doesn’t actually mean war or something similar, but rather the root word of “jihad” means “strife” and in light of Islamic teachings, it means to strive in the way of Allah. Now, those verses that do allow for war – a Jihad of the Sword – require very specific conditions that primarily existed at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The condition that war is made against them first. God only allowed for action after the disbelievers had declared war on the Muslims and the Muslims were required to defend their faith. Hence, there is no instance in the Quran or in any sayings of the Holy Prophet that allowed for the unjust killing of anyone.
To those who profess their hate against Muslims, to those who say Muslims are haters, to those who think that Muslims are unjust and cruel, I say: I am a Muslim and I condemn the actions of Mevlut Mert Altintas, the gunman who praised to God after killing the Russian ambassador to Turkey. I am a Muslim and I condemn the actions of the gunman who opened fire in a mosque in Zurich, Switzerland. I am a Muslim and I condemn the tragedy that happened in Berlin. I am a Muslim and I condemn all the actions of all the terrorist organizations that exist in the world. But I, as a Muslim American, also oppose those who say that Islam is a violent religion.
By Zain Pal
On December 5th four Ahmadis were arrested and nine charged under anti-blasphemy laws by the Counter Terrorism Department of the Punjab government in Pakistan, who is trying them as terrorists. These police officers raided the publication offices of Tehrik e Jadid and Zia ul Islam Press of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for no valid reason. The publication offices were in Rabwah, Pakistan, which is the historical international headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
This is one of the many incidents that have occurred against the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. They are continuously imprisoned, tortured, and killed just because of their beliefs. They have been stripped of their voting rights and the police have sealed off Ahmadi mosques. Further, Pakistan passed an amendment to the constitution of Pakistan that declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslim. In addition, in 1984, Ordinance XX was adopted saying Ahmadis that pose as Muslims are criminals.
Although the perpetrators of these acts claim that they are carrying out these attacks in the name of Islam, indeed these acts are the antithesis of Islamic values. It says in the Islamic holy book, the Quran, in Chapter 2 Verse 63 that, “Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” The “Muslims” in Pakistan that carry out these horrendous acts have no justification to do so.
As an Ahmadi Muslim, I think this is as atrocious of an act as it would be for a Catholic if Vatican City were raided.
Further, in Chapter 22 Verse 78 it says, “And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah . He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.” Thus, how can the Pakistani government consider themselves true Muslims and carry out such actions against us Ahmadis, while in the process disobey a commandment from God Himself?
We wish to draw attention to the injustice that is taking away Ahmadis’ human rights and the injustice of the Punjabi government by raiding the publication offices in Rabwah. The Ahmadis that were arrested should be immediately released because there is no justification for them to be in prison. We urge human rights organizations in the world to bring attention to these matters because it is not fair for Ahmadis to be discriminated and tortured in Muslim countries, just because we believe in the arrival of the long-awaited Promised Messiah .
by Zafir Ahmed
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.
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.