Monday, April 20, 2009

Islamophobia: A Community Awareness Event

'Love for all, hatred for none'

Zion's Islam community, FBI speak out on faith, hate crime

April 20, 2009

WAUKEGAN -- You may have heard that Muslims believe in converting others by force. Those who serve as suicide bombers get a special place in heaven. Muslims wage a jihad against all non-Muslims.

These are among the popular misconceptions about Muslims. The truth about the religion was spelled out Saturday at "Islamophobia: Everything You Wanted to Know About Islam But Were Afraid to Ask," along with an FBI presentation on hate crimes.

"We don't believe in any form of terrorism. Jihad is misunderstood," said Imam Mubasher Ahmad, Midwest region missionary for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC). "Every day we hear the news -- a Muslim became a human bomb."

Suicide is an unforgivable sin, and killing an innocent person is likened to killing the whole of humanity in the Quran, Ahmad said.

"Islam is a peaceful religion," said Zahir Ahmed of AMC's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in the program at Park Place Senior Center, 412 S. Lewis Ave.

The Quran is specific in how and when a person is allowed to use violence, he explained.

"The Quran is very limited and strict on how to fight," he said.

If a person is being attacked, then he or she should be allowed to defend him or her self, Zahir said. Being the transgressor, such as a suicide bomber, is prohibited.

"No Muslims are found in acts of terrorism. Therefore, those who act inconsistently with the teachings of the Quran are not Muslims," Zahir said.

Fighting against governments and starting religious wars is rebellion, not jihad, Zahir said. True jihads are reforming against evil, like serving mankind, he said.

"Love for all, hatred for none" is the main tenet of AMC. Its message reflects the Islamic message of peace, universal brotherhood and submission to the will of Allah (God). It is practiced in 190 countries worldwide and has more than 60 communities in the United States, including one in Zion, which sponsored Islamophobia.

AJ Ijaz of Grayslake, a member of the Zion AMC, said he was especially interested in hearing the hate crime presentation.

"I think the fact there is a focus (on hate crimes) is good," Ijaz said.

FBI agent Dave Young said that hate crimes could be summed up with one word, ignorance. A hate crime is a crime against a person or property motivated by bias against, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disabilities or sexual orientation, Young said.

"Hate crimes generally are traditional crimes, (like) assault, battery, rape, homicide and vandalism," Young said.

Race continues to be the No. 1 reason for hate crimes, with the "African-American community" as the No. 1 target, he said.

Regarding religious hate crimes, the Jewish community is the No. 1 target, he said.

Young would not say that hate crimes against Muslims are uncommon in the Chicago area.

"Few people truly hate. (Hatred) is almost to the exclusion of all else," Young said.

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