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Visiting Muslim leader defends his faith

Tuesday 31 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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SAMOA – A Muslim, who is a regular visitor to Samoa, says not all Muslims are terrorists.

Mustenser Qamar, who has spoken out about uninformed allegations against his faith in numerous letters to the editor, made the comment in response to recent calls in Samoa to ban Islam.

As a practicing Ahmadi Imam, Qamar graduated in Islamic Theology and Comparative Religions in the United Kingdom.

There, he was a regular panellist in a live TV show called Beacon of Truth, where prejudices against his faith and theology in general were discussed.

With almost 3000 followers on his Twitter account, Qamar said he is constantly correcting misconceptions made about his religion.

“Over 99 per cent of Muslims worldwide have nothing to do with the extremist groups and condemn their actions,” he told the Samoa Observer.

“In fact, Muslims themselves are the target of extremist bigotry and are fleeing to other parts of the world to find refuge and escape these violent terrorists.

“These terrorists are attempting to misconstrue and misrepresent our religion to achieve their own geopolitical motives.

“Islam is not the threat, rather it is extremist ideology and bigotry which is the root cause of the problem.

“Whether that be bigotry from these so-called Muslims or bigots of any or no faith, we need to unite against this and together work towards a solution. Further bigotry and isolation is not the solution”.

Having heard of the recent talks about Islam being a threat for the people of Samoa, Qamar, who is a frequent visitor to the country, said he does not feel offended, but rather worried.

“These ideas seem to deviate from the peaceful and loving teaching of Jesus. Religion is a matter of the heart and once again I would like to reiterate that no religion teaches hatred and violence.

“Our religion is gravely misunderstood and verses and incidents are taken out of context. I have studied Islam in depth and would welcome a discussion to prove that Islam is actually a peaceful religion”.

The issue was brought into the open by the secretary general of the National Council of Churches, Reverend Ma’auga Motu, who spoke out against Islam in Samoa, suggesting it should be banned as part of a proposal by the prime minister to legally install Christianity as Samoa’s religion by way of a constitutional amendment.

“I ask the heads of churches not to forget the human rights of freedom of belief,” Qamar said.

“I can assure them that the true teachings of Islam are peaceful, and these are the teachings the majority of Muslims accept. These peaceful teachings are not just an interpretation, if the leaders are open to discussion, we can even prove it through our scriptures.”

Qamar pointed out that the spiritual messages of Islam and Christianity are not at all so different from each other as one might expect.

“We believe that God sends prophets into the world to guide mankind and remind them to love and worship God and stay away from the evils of the world. From the time of Adam, God Almighty has sent many prophets into the world including the Biblical prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses etc.

“This belief coincides with the Christian belief. The only difference would be that we believe Jesus Christ to be a very dear and loved prophet of God.

“We believe that according to Biblical prophecies and the need of the time, God Almighty sent the Prophet Muhammad – peace be on him – in the 6th century and continues to guide humanity to turn towards him alone.”

When being asked about the recent acts of terrorism which shook the foundations of peace in the heart of Europe, Qamar pointed out that every Muslim on the planet should find out which actions should be taken to fight these crimes against humanity.

“This is a very important question – a question every Muslim should ask themselves. Atrocities are being committed in the world and unfortunately, some of these are being committed in the name of my beloved religion and my beloved prophet.

“I can say that our community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Worldwide, openly condemns these atrocities. We not only speak up against these acts of terror, rather we also fight the ideology through articles and present incontrovertible proofs from the Holy Scripture to prove that the ideology and beliefs of these so-called Muslims are false.”

Education is the key to fight any form of extremism, he said.

“This is the best way to cut at the root of the problem. Therefore, around the world we hold seminars, peace conferences, talks in schools and universities and educate not only our own members, but also attempt to bridge gaps of misunderstanding with others.

“We not only need to prevent radicalisation through incontrovertible truths and arguments from the scripture, but we also need to educate non-Muslims to bridge gaps of misunderstanding and stop any and all forms of bigotry.”

With more than 1.6 billion members worldwide, Islam is the second biggest religious community in the world after Christianity.

“It is up each and every one to rethink if it is appropriate to judge about all of these people because a particularly small number of them is using the name of Islam to spread a message of fear in the world,” Qamar said. - Observer