In the wake of the New Zealand terror attack that left 50 people dead, mosques across Canada are opening their doors to people unfamiliar with Islam’s teachings.
As an imam at Calgary’s Baitun Nur Mosque, Asif Ahmed Arif’s role is to provide “spiritual and secular nourishment” for worshippers.
“My job as an imam is to engage the members of the community, to help them morally and spiritually, and foster their relationship with them and their god,” he said.
In the aftermath of Christchurch’s shooting, the outpouring of support — flowers, smiles and love — for Calgary’s Muslim community has been phenomenal, Arif said.
“When you see such barbaric acts being perpetrated against humanity, it’s a great outpouring of support by the members of the community,” he said.
“We are all human beings and we have more in common than we do differences.”
He said the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at community “strongly condemns any acts of violence and terror” and is advocating for interfaith communication.
“We put aside the differences and we engage in interfaith dialogue because, at the end of the day, these heinous acts have been perpetrated because of a lack of knowledge,” Arif said.
“We believe strongly that when we open our doors, we open our hearts. We are building those bridges of sympathy, tearing down the walls of hatred.”
Relationships can only be built if people open their minds and attend, he added.
“Regardless of this being a mosque or a place of worship… because we are humans, we need that connection with one another,” Arif said.
He said people will find love and peace if they visit the house of worship.
“The very motto of our community is: ‘Love for all, hatred for none,'” Arif said.
The mosque is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“People can come at any time, and they can see for themselves that we are peaceful, loving human beings,” Arif said.
“Our main goal is to be united as one.”