October 24, 2014 - 5:32 PM
KAMLOOPS – Imam Mazhar Mahmood was on his way to the Adam’s Lake salmon run on Wednesday when he heard of the shooting in Ottawa.
“I was literally in tears,” he said. Upon his return to the mosque, the tears continued once local Muslims finished their prayers.
Mahmood, who manages the Kamloops Islamic Association, said he hoped the media would not focus on the shooter's religion.
“Speaking in context, if you really think about it, this person, he wasn’t linked with Islam in any way,” said Mahmood who added the shooter was kicked out of his mosque and had a history of drugs and criminal activity. “Nobody would consider that person a devout Muslim. Hence I think this action shouldn’t be linked with Islam at all – just how Justin Trudeau said in his speech.”
“The general exhortations in the Qur’an are to avoid killing, butchery, vice.... (God) tells the Muslim nation to enter into a covenant of peace,” Mahmood said. “God says in a passage of the Qur’an ‘whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he has butchered all of humanity’ – every single individual in this world.”
Mahmood says when attacks like those in Saint-Jean or in Ottawa happen with ISIS-inspired terrorists linking their acts to Islam – the extremists have taken verses in the religious text out of context which leads to judgment of the religion as a whole.
“It’s very frustrating because all the peace you’re trying to promote is just wiped out with one foolish person’s actions,” he said. “Of course evil actions are condemned at the end of the day, no matter who is doing it – Muslim groups or non-Muslim groups.”
Following the two separate attacks, Mahmood said the Canadian Council of Imams released a statement. It asks local imams to address their congregations and help each attendee understand the true meaning of Islam. The association requests the religious scholars to report any suspicious activity to the RCMP.
“That was my intent from the beginning,” Mahmood said. “But, God bless, there is no such radicalization in my community.”
Following the release of the statement, Mahmood was contacted by the Kamloops RCMP who encouraged him to come forward if he notices anything suspicious or if he experiences racism. Mahmood said he has not faced discrimination since his recent arrival in Kamloops. He said many people in the community have come forward to make a connection and to learn about the tenets of Islam.
In the wake of the attacks, Mahmood said his thoughts are with the victims. To encourage a teachable moment, he asks that anyone who doesn’t understand something about Islam to reach out to him and enquire about it.
To learn more about Mahmood and the local mosque, take a look at the website and his blog.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014