Islam & Muslims: Peace, War
This was the topic of an event held at the Grand Hall in TRU on Saturday, October 14th 2017. The event,which drew in a crowd of 258, was hosted and organized by the Kamloops Islamic Association (KIA) inpartnership with Islam Unravelled and supported by TRU. Given the plethora of negative news regarding Islam and Muslims circulating the media these days, there is an immense need for educating Canadians regarding these topics. It is this need that led KIA to invite Mufti Aasim Rashid from Vancouver to speak on this extremely relevant topic. It has never been more crucial to be educated and informed for the betterment of our society through education, cooperation, networking,and programs which benefit all Canadians alike; Muslims and Non-Muslims.Planning began in mid-August and all the Directors at KIA, worked tirelessly to bring this program to fruition. From securing the venue at TRU, arranging for refreshments and setting up registration, to developing program process charts, a media and marketing strategy, implementation plans and defining roles and responsibilities, the organizers had their plates full in the lead up to the event. Arranging foradditional volunteers for the event and providing training was also part of the event planning. On October 14, the event kicked off with a Jeopardy style trivia regarding Islam and Muslims, to keep the audience engaged as people checked in. Faisal Siddiqui, President of Kamloops Islamic Association, took the stage to officially begin the program, acknowledging the territory of the Kamloops Indian Band,partnership with Islam Unravelled, support from TRU and participation of Interfaith Kamloops Group andthe general public.This was followed by the recitation of a few verses from the Holy Quran, after which Tony Larue of Kamloops Indian Band took to the stage to perform a traditional song and prayer. Dean of Students at TRU, Christine Adam then took the stage to thank Kamloops Islamic Association for organizing the event. Adam also took the opportunity to mention the support of Kamloops IslamicAssociation during the BC Wildfires evacuations when hundreds of evacuees were sheltered at TRU from the interior. ‘The very first call of support that came in, was from the Kamloops Islamic Association’, said Adam.Siddiqui then set the tone for the event, by outlining its expected outcome; that attendees entered the hall with sincere intentions and open minds and hopefully at the end of the program, left with betterunderstanding, love, peace, trust, respect and a sense of belonging to one society. Vancouver based Islamic Scholar, Mufti Aasim Rashid was then introduced by Siddiqui and called on stage.On taking the stage, Mufti Aasim began the lecture by outlining his personal experiences growing up inCanada as a Muslim and the challenges that came with the territory. As he took the audience through his personal journey, he weaved in some of the pressing issues of today involving Islam and Muslims. Among the topics he mentioned were worldwide demands for all Muslims to denounce terror attacks, the reasons behind the way Muslims dress, how radical extremists have nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam, and how islamophobes and extremists have one thing in common; hatred for the ‘other’.As he eloquently articulated points relevant to Canadians today, Mufti Aasim effectively utilized humor to relate to the audience. By touching on significant events in the Middle East, demands for Sharia Law and its associated penal codes in the West among other issues, Mufti Aasim addressed most of the questionsattendees had in their minds. Those who needed more clarity raised their hands for volunteers on the floor to provide them with a formso their questions could be written down. These were handed over to Mufti Aasim at the end of his speech and he answered and explained specific questions regarding rights of women in Islam, why youth radicalization occurs, female organ mutilation, jihad and hijab. KIA and Islam Unravelled had one aim in mind when putting it all together; to clear up misconceptions about Islam and give people a chance to learn about the religion from people who actually follow it and provide answers through a reliable and referenced source. The lecture and Q&A session culminated in astanding ovation from the audience, who then mingled and reflected on what they had learnt overrefreshments. Heidi Coleman, President of Kamloops Jewish Community, said “We are a better people and community when we get to know each other better, understand each other better, break bread together and celebratetogether. I commend the Kamloops Islamic Association for holding this event and for trying to bring ourcommunities closer.”“...we extend our gratitude to Kamloops Islamic Association for your work in putting together thisimportant community event.” Pastor Jane Gingrich, Hills of Peace Lutheran Church“It was a great pleasure and honour for me to attend. Thank you, Kamloops Islamic Association for all the work you and the volunteers did to accomplish this event.” Reverend Helen McFadyen, Minister, UnitarianUniversalist Fellowship An audience member who travelled from Sorrento to attend the event summed it up in a few sentences: “Thank you for allowing me to attend, I (we) found it clarified some of the mis-beliefs we might have had before attending. Good on you folks, mission accomplished.” The Kamloops Islamic Association thanks everyone who took the time out to attend this event. Just showing up and making the effort to learn about something that is portrayed with such negativity shows the character of our community, and reaffirms our values of inclusiveness and openness as Canadians. May weget many more opportunities to get together and learn more about each other.