Muslim sect preaches peace, tolerance to Saskatoon members

Watch above: A Saskatoon group is hoping its Islamic teachings will reach far beyond the walls of its mosque. 

SASKATOON – Aatir Khan says he doesn’t curse and lowers his head in respect when talking to elders. They’re lessons he’s learned while growing up in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

“Those etiquettes, I implement them into my high school, into my regular life,” said Khan, who attends Evan Hardy Collegiate in Saskatoon.

The Ahmadiyya community holds weekly lessons for its youth at its mosque in Saskatoon. At a time when recent terrorist attacks have been carried out in the name of Islam, the group is working hard to educate its young members and the public on what they believe is the true message of their religion.

“We always promote social and communal well being, so we can live together peacefully,” said Ijaz Ahmad, one of the volunteer teachers at the mosque.

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“We try to spread peace and harmony in the world,” he added.

The Ahmadiyya mosque sits in College Park East and features a sign at its front door proclaiming its central message: “Love for all, hatred for none.” The movement was started in 19th century India. Its reformer preached a message of peace, according to members of the sect.

The group recently condemned violence in the name of Islam at a rally following the recent deaths of Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec.

“Jihad of the sword is no more, it’s not valid anymore and it is the time for jihad of the pen, to propagate the message and true teachings of Islam,” said Imam Zahid Abid of the Saskatoon Ahmadiyya congregation.

Abid said there are roughly 30-thousand Ahmadiyya members in Canada and that believers in other parts of the world are persecuted by other Muslims for their teachings.

“That is why it’s necessary for us to speak out when we have an opportunity,” said Abid.

On any given weekend at the mosque, you can find numerous youth sitting and listening to older members of the community teach. Naiela Anwar, a high school student, leads one of the sessions and says knowledge gained at the mosque can be used to help correct someone who they feel is misinterpreting Islam.

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“We’re able to go up to people who may have wrongly interpreted something and give references to certain parts of the Holy Qur’an,” said Anwar.

“If I do ever encounter someone who has radicalized views, definitely I’ll have a sit down with them and tell them about what Islam is really about,” said Khan, who plans to pursue a religious post-secondary education after he graduates next fall.