Following the tragic attack at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris on Jan. 7, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Lloydminster said they would like people to know that they “strongly and categorically condemn” the action and are hurt that people would once again do such a thing in the name of their religion.
“This is against Islam and we’re not supposed to do anything to kill, this is definitely wrong,” said Muzaffar Ahmed, secretary of external affairs for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Lloydminster. “Under no circumstances. You’re not supposed to kill anyone in Islam. You just pray for them.”
He said the word Islam literally means “peace” and “submission to the will of God.”
“I don’t know where they are taking these extreme actions (from), but in Islam there is no room for that, there is no room at all,” said Ahmed.
If these “self-proclaimed defenders of Islam” understood what they were defending, Ahmed said he feels they would have realized God doesn’t need people to defend him nor his prophets. Muslims are taught that if they become offended that they pray to God for the “steadfastness” and “patience” to deal with it. Not take up arms to deal with it themselves.
“The actions of those cowardly men do not in any way, shape, or form represent the teachings or commandments of Islam, or the Holy Qur’an. Islam advocates peace, brotherhood, religious harmony and the upholding of human rights,” he said.
According to Ahmed, the Prophet Muhammad, whose satirical depiction instigated the attack, professed equality for all religions, creeds and faiths and his farewell sermon read like a charter for human rights and freedoms. Apart from this, he also practiced patience during extreme persecution.
Ahmed is offended by the actions of the attackers, but he also thinks Charlie Hebdo’s decisions to publish the offensive cartoons were also in the wrong. While the taking of life is strictly forbidden in Islam, offending other people’s religions, whatever they may be, also goes against their beliefs and sensibilities.
“So basically the cartoons are not a good idea because in any circumstance, we’re supposed to bring peace, right? Just see what is happening right now and how many people died there and how much money the France government is going to spend on the army and police just because of these cartoons,” he said.
“These cartoons bring lots of unpeaceful things.”
He also wonders why the “umbrella of free speech” is opened and closed depending on the topic.
“If we truly felt that everyone has a right to say anything, and they have the freedom to do so, then racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic jokes and opinions would be allowed everywhere and on any forum. But they are not,” he said. “Why? Because they offend the people they are targeting.”
He then wonders why satirical cartoons of a revered personality that offend his followers are OK and how it falls under free speech.
“I must make it clear here again, I categorically reject any form of violence and hatred, I do not condone the murders, the bombings, and the riots that have occurred in response to cartoons of the Prophet,” said Ahmed.
“But I am just saying, that if it is offensive to me as a Muslim that my beloved Prophet is mocked at, then shouldn’t my feelings be worth protecting and not trampled upon?”
He said the proper reaction to the cartoons should have been to pray that the publishers and creators find tolerance or turn the other cheek and ignore them completely. At this point, now that it’s too late, all they can do is pray for both sides and teach people to bring peace, tolerance and love to each religion instead of fighting each other.
In Ahmed’s opinion, people should focus on the similarities of their beliefs instead of fighting over the differences.
“We should talk about the commonalities. There are lots of commonalities in the religions. Like everyone believes in god in religions so we should talk about the god and the good things of the gods or the prophets.”
With that said, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community would like to offer their heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
“I wish that those who were offended by the contents of the Charlie Hebdo magazine would have written a letter to the editor trying to explain to them why their magazine was offending them,” said Ahmed. “Or simply chose not to read the magazine. But what they did, and why they did it, are both things that will haunt us for a long, long time.”