A visiting youth group of religious ambassadors wants to commemorate their first visit to Inuvik with a monument to peace and unity.
Representatives of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) presented to Town Council at their Sept. 26 meeting.
“A big part of our movement is to reach out and introduce ourselves to different towns in Canada and provide all the help that we can offer,” said Naveed ul Islam. “Our concentration mostly is in the Greater Toronto Area or Ontario area but we have chapters all across Canada as well and we are looking for permanent presence in different towns.”
Based on a similar monument established in the City of Windsor, Ont., ul Islam said the peace monument would be a gift from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to the town as a symbol of peace, unification and diversity.
One of the largest Islamic organizations in the world, with nearly 20 million members, the Amhadiyya Muslim Community also maintains a strong service organization. The charity “Humanity First” is maintained by over 1,200 volunteers around the world, operating food banks, providing assistance to people affected by natural disasters and general relief efforts for communities in need, including medical assistance and essential needs. They also help with sponsoring and resettling refugees to new homes in Canada.
It also maintains the aforementioned AMYA, which runs a number of activities ranging from academic to athletic for its members and keeps them active in charity and social welfare practices through its own service organization “Mercy 4 Mankind.” Among the community work the AMYA does is blood donation and food drives, as well as charity runs in many communities to help fund health care work and other important grassroots initiatives.
Over the weekend, the group set up an information session at the Midnight Sun Complex as part of their “I am Muslim – ask me anything” campaign to combat Islamophobia, help overcome barriers to communication and combat stereotypes about the religion. The group had made their way by road from Toronto and Saskatoon — to visit Inuvik at the invitation of a local member of their branch of Islam.
Ahmadiyya traces its roots to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who took an oath of allegiance at a home in Ludhiana, India on March 23, 1889. Ahmadi believe Ahmad was the Messiah — a second coming of Jesus Christ, whom they also believe survived the crucifixion described in the New Testament and went on to live a long life in what became India, ultimately dying of old age in Kashmir and is entombed at the Rosa Bal shrine under the name Yuz Asaf. This differentiates the branch from other views of Islam, which generally hold that Jesus was not crucified but simply ascended to heaven.
Another aspect of Amadiyya is Ahmad’s views on Jihad, which reject violent struggle and instead call for peaceful responses to oppression and aggression, using literary sources and kindness. Other key elements of Sunni Islam, such as the Six Articles of Faith and the Five Pillars, are also central to Amadiyya belief.
However, because of their belief that Ahmad is the Messiah the Amadiyya movement has been subject to violent persecution in several parts of the world, most notably in Pakistan where the constitution deprives them of religious rights. Incidents involving state and religious persecution of Amadiyya practitioners have also been reported in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria and Bangladesh. Practice of Amadiyya has been punishable by death in Afghanistan since 1924 by order of the then-King Amanullah Khan.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has officially been active in Canada for 57 years.