Ahmadiyya Muslims convene in Cochrane for peace, love

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 28, 2010

The Baitun Nur Mosque, above, located in northeast Calgary, is the centre for southern Alberta’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The 48,438 sq. ft. complex, distinguished by its steel-capped minaret and large steel dome, was publicly dedicated on July 5, 2008. It is the largest mosque in Canada, providing areas not only for worship, but for education, administration, and

hospitality. At the Ahmadiyya community’s annual Western Canada convention, held this past weekend in Cochrane, Missionary-in-Charge Mubarak A. Nazir, at left, brought a message of peace, stressing his faith’s opposition to terrorism and expounding on its slogan, “Love for all, hatred for none.” Photos by Warren Harbeck

For a religious tradition so opposed to violence and terrorism, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has experienced unrelenting persecution since its founding over a century ago.

In one of the latest incidents, 86 were killed and more than 125 injured on May 28 in coordinated attacks on two of its mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, a country notorious for its harassment of the Muslim reform movement and its followers.

And yet, when 2,500 of its Western Canada membership gathered for its annual convention, held this past weekend at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane, the focus was not on how to get even, but how to overcome evil with good.

It was my privilege to be invited as a columnist to attend the Sunday afternoon sessions and once again be the beneficiary of wonderful Ahmadiyya hospitality and wisdom.

There were chanted recitations from the Qur’an, greetings from Cochrane’s mayor and other Calgary-area dignitaries, stirring remarks by various Ahmadiyya leaders, and of course, a concluding meal that did the community’s historic Indian roots proud.

One speaker in particular, however, really got my attention.

Mubarak A. Nazir, Ahmadiyya Missionary-in-Charge, surprised me with his insightful talk based on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, that great lesson in the Christian Scriptures on who is our neighbour.

“We live in a small world, a global village,” Nazir said.

“To kill one person is equivalent to killing the entirety of humanity,” he continued, clearly having in mind the recent martyrdom in Lahore. “Humanity is one, because we have one Creator.”

Referring to Jesus’ prayer at His martyrdom – “Father, forgive them” – he asked: “What can we do?

“Just as there is guidance and light in the Bible,” he said, so there is in “our mosque – a house of guidance, a house of light.”

Returning to his own Ahmadiyya Muslim tradition, he concluded: “Our mission is to show compassion – peace to the world, peace in ourselves . . . love for all, hatred for none.”

© 2010 Warren Harbeck

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