Young Muslims want to dispel misunderstandings people have about their faith.
On March 5, a cold day in downtown Toronto, about 30 young kids from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square to talk to people about Islam.
Their campaign’s goal, called “Islam Understood,” aims to inform the public and foster a community of young people that share Islam’s values.
“We want to educate youth so they aren’t radicalized,” says Kashaf Danish, president of the Toronto chapter. “These young people are using their energy and passion to promote peace.”
Just one day before, protesters clashed outside City Hall—several anti-Islam demonstrators found themselves outnumbered by more than 1,000 counter protesters.
Torontoist spoke with some of these young people to find out why their community and work is so important to them.
When two argumentative men confronted the group, shouting accusations about the Quran, Ashraf held his tongue.
“I feel a little insulted [that they chose to argue instead of listen] but it doesn’t matter. If people don’t take the time to understand Islam, then they won’t get what we’re trying to do.”
“[People outside of Islam] shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” he says. “We’re trying to show how the children of Islam really act. To fight in the name of Allah is to spread the message of Islam peacefully.”
Razi Qudrat, 21
Razi was the one confronted by the two men. They didn’t give him a chance to speak.
“We deal with hate throughout the world. I was upset because those arguments had no truth.”
All the participants are from the Ahmadiyya Abode of Peace, a community in North York. They’re one of 88 Ahmadiyya chapters in Canada.
Danish says the community helps its members as much as they do the public.
“When they come out of their comfort zone, it’s good for them.” he says. “They learn about and interact with all kinds of people. That’s how communities grow.”