CORNWALL, Ontario – In support of the new “Islam Understood” initiative, members of the Baitun Nasir Mosque gathered last Sunday, March 5 for an open house. The newly launched movement aims to give Canadians the opportunity to learn more about Islam and its true teachings.
With the recent rise in anti-Islamic rhetoric, Canadian Muslim youth felt it was necessary to address misconceptions and give Canadians an authentic source to learn about their faith.
Roy Kyer has been coming to the mosque for three years, and has included this sect of Islam into his religious studies. “They’ve allowed me to learn about their faith from the inside out,” said Kyer. “I’m not a Muslim, but I’m allowed to participate in their mosque.”
“Many people may have heard about the mosque, but usually, they just pass by because they are not sure if they will be welcome,” said Azizullah, who handles community outreach for the mosque. “We want people to have a better idea of what is happening in the mosque – especially with the recent Quebec City incident.”
This cross-Canada campaign includes door‐to‐door canvassing in thousands of Canadian neighbourhoods, with social media and special exhibitions in major Canadian cities. In recent times, changes in political climate and increasing mysticism around Islam have created misinformation about Islam and a growing apprehension of Muslims.
“People in smaller communities don’t always get an opportunity to meet many Muslims,” said Muneer Khan, who is head of outreach for Ottawa East. “For many, their only perception of a Muslim is what they see in the media.”
Khan says that despite Cornwall’s small town environment, people are typically more receptive to discussion. “Larger cities tend to have more distractions, and people don’t always take time to discuss religion and spirituality and bigger picture questions,” said Khan.
Considering the recent events in Quebec as well as the current controversy over anti‐Islamophobia, the campaign hopes to satiate people’s growing curiosity on the topic.
“Purely, we want to convey our message that we are Muslim by religion, and we are peaceful people,” said mosque president, Tahir Khalid.
“Islam Understood” hopes to bridge the gap of understanding by showing Canadians the true face of Islam.
“We believe in love for all, and hatred for none. We love our faith, and part of our faith is to love our country,” said Khalid.