The Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s motto, “Love for All, Hatred for None,” was certainly put to the test recently.
On June 9 in London, Ont., a 20-year-old fellow drove his pickup truck into a family of five Muslims out for a walk, killing four and seriously injuring the fifth. The driver has been charged with a terrorist offense motivated by hate against members of the Islamic faith.
So, just how are Canadian Muslims responding to this? I contacted our longtime Calgary coffee companion Basheer Islam for his thoughts.
Basheer is a familiar face in our friendly foothills town. He’s been one of the organizers of the popular Ahmadiyya Muslim community-sponsored World Religions Conferences held at the Cochrane RancheHouse over the past dozen years.
The purpose of the conferences has been to promote goodwill and mutual respect among people of diverse faiths by countering ignorance with understanding in the spirit of their motto, “Love for All, Hatred for None.” Indeed, what happened to the Afzaal family is why these World Religions Conferences are so important.
I asked Basheer how last week’s incident has impacted his community at Calgary’s Baitun Nur Mosque. He responded:
THANKS FOR your concern. This latest incident has hit us all in a very personal way. We were in the midst of mourning the loss of 215 innocent Indigenous youth and now the news of the Afzaal family as the latest victims of hate and the fear of the unknown: tragic and sad that such acts are happening in our beloved homeland at regular intervals.
The Afzaal family was originally from Pakistan, just like me and my family. The hurt and pain this sad incident has caused is no less than losing a close family member – a sad and painful loss of human life.
As human beings we have to realize our potential and rise above the cycle of Ignorance, Fear and Hate. Unfortunately, just like the current Covid pandemic, we have a rampant deficit of goodwill and its variants spreading freely across the globe.
I believe your column will definitely help remind all of us of the higher purpose of our creation, the importance of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. We need to stand up and stand together to promote love and compassion, “Love for All, Hatred for None” should be front and center in all acts of our daily lives.
THE LATE David Lertzman would agree. The victim of a recent grizzly bear attack was a frequent participant in Cochrane’s World Religions Conferences. He commented on Islamophobia as well as anti-Semitism in our April 6, 2017 column:
THESE ARE disturbing trends in troubling times. We must reach out to embrace, support and stand with one another. I say this as a Canadian, and especially as a Jew. Jews have been the target of hatred, prejudice, ignorance and fear for generations. As a result of such ignorance, prejudice, hatred and fear we’ve been blamed and targeted for many of the world’s problems. I now witness my Muslim brothers and sisters subjected to ignorance, prejudice, hatred and fear, which breaks my heart and chills the soul.
The warning bells are ringing! We must stand together with respect and goodwill towards one another…steeled by a righteous courage of compassion and strength!
© 2021 Warren Harbeck