Qalipu and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties unite

Groups come to­gether over din­ner to en­cour­age friend­ship.

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA GAR­DINER

Two com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in Grand Falls-Wind­sor came to­gether on Satur­day, Nov. 4 to build a friend­ship bridge.

The Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity and Qalipu First Na­tion Band came to­gether to cel­e­brate both cul­tures with prayers and pas­sages from the Qu­ran, as well as the Qalipu’s hon­our­ing song, drum­ming cir­cle and trav­el­ling song.

The event was hosted by Dr. Mo­hamed Bood­hun at the re­quest of Lal Khan Ma­lik, na­tional pres­i­dent of the Ah­madiyya Com­mu­nity, who was trav­el­ling across Canada to meet with Indige­nous peo­ple.

“We are a per­se­cuted com­mu­nity and when­ever we come to know of an­other com­mu­nity that is fac­ing sim­i­lar treat­ment at the hand of peo­ple, we feel a nat­u­ral affin­ity for them,” said Ma­lik. “In ad­di­tion to the other rea­sons that we have to in­ter­con­nect with ev­ery other com­mu­nity to build bridges, we feel spe­cial feel­ings for the Indige­nous peo­ple of Canada.”

The groups’ lead­ers say they have a lot in com­mon at the root of their be­lief sys­tems. The motto of the Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity is “love for all, ha­tred for none.”

Qalipu chief Bren­dan Mitchell says this is sim­i­lar to the seven sa­cred teach­ing of the Mi’kmaq peo­ple: hu­mil­ity, hon­esty, re­spect, truth, courage, wis­dom and love.

“I think we have a lot in com­mon tonight as these two groups come to­gether,” said Mitchell.

The Indige­nous com­mu­nity faces per­se­cu­tion within Canada, said Mitchell. In par­tic­u­lar, he said the Mi’kmaq of New­found­land have had a hard time gain­ing recog­ni­tion within the prov­ince.

When New­found­land joined Con­fed­er­a­tion, Joey Smallwood told the Cana­dian Govern­ment there were no Indige­nous peo­ple liv­ing in New­found­land, said Mitchell.

The Fed­er­a­tion of New­found­land In­di­ans (FNI) was formed in 1972 in an ef­fort to gain recog­ni­tion. When the Qalipu band was formed on Sept. 22, 2011 there were 23,877 mem­bers. The cur­rent mem­ber­ship is 24,454 peo­ple.

Be­fore the for­ma­tion of the FNI, Indige­nous peo­ple faced dis­crim­i­na­tion, lead­ing them to deny their her­itage to fit in with their com­mu­ni­ties, said Mitchell.

“When Qalipu was formed there was an in­cred­i­ble re­nais­sance, an in­ter­est in things Mi’kmaq by peo­ple in New­found­land,” he said.

“An ad­di­tional 75,00 peo­ple came for­ward try­ing to be­come mem­bers of Qalipu First Na­tion, self-pro­claim­ing and self-iden­ti­fy­ing as First Na­tion peo­ple in this prov­ince.”

That brings the to­tal num­ber of Indige­nous peo­ple liv­ing in New­found­land to 103,000, said Mitchell.

The band now finds it­self fac­ing a dif­fi­cult time as mem­ber­ship and qual­i­fi­ca­tion is­sues are dealt with.

“Fam­i­lies are up­set, fam­i­lies are bro­ken, and com­mu­ni­ties are hurt,” said Mitchell. “Peo­ple are be­ing de­nied their ances­try and her­itage as mem­bers of the Mi’kmaq com­mu­nity. I meet with govern­ment reg­u­larly on this par­tic­u­lar process and I’m sad­dened to tell you that the Govern­ment of Canada re­ally doesn’t care too much about our par­tic­u­lar si­t­u­a­tion as we sit right now.”

Sim­i­larly, the Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity faces a sim­i­lar si­t­u­a­tion in Pak­istan, said Ma­lik, as the govern­ment of Pak­istan has amended its Con­sti­tu­tion “to say that Ah­madiyya is not Mus­lim.”

“Not only that – if you say I’m not a Mus­lim, I live with that, but I claim to be Mus­lim and (that) is a sin which should be pun­ished by im­pris­on­ment of three years. This is what hap­pen­ing in Pak­istan,” said Ma­lik.

Mis­un­der­stand­ings have de­vel­oped in the word of Is­lam, in­clud­ing the con­cept of vi­o­lence, he said.

“Some Mus­lims have un­for­tu­nately de­vel­oped the view that when peo­ple are wrong, and you are right, we have the right to forcibly bring them to the right way. But that is against the Is­lamic teach­ings. No (re­li­gion) has mo­nop­oly of be­ing the only true re­li­gion.

“All re­li­gions are true at their source and Is­lam de­mands that not only do you have to be­lieve in your own Prophet Mo­hammed, you have to be­lieve in Prophet Abra­ham, Prophet Moses, Prophet Je­sus, Prophet Bud­dha – any prophet that ap­peared … in the his­tory of mankind, we would say ‘peace be upon him.’

“We would con­sider him of our own prophet. The dif­fer­ence of re­li­gion should not be made the rea­son for ha­tred with one an­other.”

The pur­pose of the friend­ship bridge is to lis­ten to oth­ers speak about their be­liefs. Ma­lik has at­tended hun­dreds of sim­i­lar events through­out Canada.

“We be­lieve this is a very ef­fec­tive way of bring­ing about peace,” he said. “If the aim of my life is to please God, I can­not please Him un­less I love all mem­bers of the hu­man race.

“The sum­mary of the mod­ern teach­ings of all re­li­gions sums up in the slo­gan we have – love for all and ha­tred for none.”

SA­MAN­THA GAR­DINER

Bren­dan Mitchell, Qalipu First Na­tion Band chief; Dr. Mo­hamed Bood­hun; Lal Khan Ma­lik, na­tional pres­i­dent of the Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity; and Andy Barker.

SA­MAN­THA GAR­DINER

The Qalipu drum­ming cir­cle play­ing the Mi’kmaq prayer song dur­ing an evening of cel­e­bra­tion be­tween the Ah­madiyya Mus­lim Com­mu­nity and Qalipu First Na­tion Band.

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