We launch a new series from this edition: ‘untold stories’ from around the world.
I have had the honour of being in the first batch to have graduated from Jamia Ahmadiyya UK, the Institute of Languages and Theology. Having had a brief taste of missionary work in the northern region of Ghana, I am currently undergoing field work in West London. Just recently we organised an open day and coffee morning at the Baitul Wahid Mosque in Hanworth, in order to build relationships with our neighbours. Apart from knocking door to door to hand out invitations, I had the opportunity to attend a Sunday service at the local Church. After the service I was able to meet worshipers at the Church over a cup of tea and personally invite them to the Mosque open day. I had a very interesting conversation with an elderly lady, who was really happy to meet me. She said, “I have never met an Imam before and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of meeting you.” On the open day, the same lady dropped by the Mosque despite her age and the cold weather. I was quite surprised when she approached me and took out a little slip from her pocket. She said, “I opened up the Qur’an this morning to see if I could find a verse which I found interesting. So I found one and wrote it down to bring with me.” It was verse 264 from the second chapter of the Holy Qur’an which read: “A kind word and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Self-Sufficient, Forbearing.” She asked if I could open it up in a Qur’an which had the Arabic text by the side. So I took her to the library and opened it up for her and we shared our thoughts about the verse. Her quest for learning about the Holy Qur’an has left a deep impression on my heart. We are continuing our efforts in building good relationships with our neighbours. Every time, we meet new people and share interesting experiences.
I had the opportunity to live in Tanzania, traversing from the East to the far western border and then sharing my experience with Indians and Pakistanis in South-East Asia. Then living amongst the British in London, and continuing my journey to Philadelphia, USA. All of these places were full of cultural diversity but my journey across the Islands of the Pacific was special as I experienced the unique, vibrant, and hidden-to-the-world Golden Culture. As a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I have seen the beauty of Marshall Islands and I am currently on the Islands of Kiribati. There is frustration and dislike towards Islam in the hearts of people living here, which has really intrigued me. I would introduce myself as a Muslim and people would say “Oh! So you’re a terrorist.” Once I was distributing ‘Muslims for Peace’ flyers and I met a nice couple. I shared these flyers with them. After taking one, the lady said “Why does it say ‘Muslims for Peace’? They are not peaceful. They are terrorists!”. I replied “Madam, do I look like a terrorist?” She said, “Well, you don’t. But you probably have a bomb in your shoes.” I remarked “Well, I’m wearing slippers.” Then she said “It’s probably in your stomach.” Although others standing by were laughing, everyone felt the tension; it’s against their culture to disrespect a guest. After some small talk, I proceeded with the flyer distribution. A little later, I returned to the same road where I had distributed flyers to see if anyone had a question. When I approached that couple again, the lady called me back and said “Can I ask you a few questions?” I replied “Definitely” and took my time to answer her questions. I explained to her the true message of Islam and how some people have hijacked the name ‘Islam’ in order to defame it. After I had explained the stance of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, she was very impressed and felt embarrassed of her initial reaction. The couple invited me to a family barbeque. The lady said “It’s strictly for family but I’d like for you to come.” We have been able to clear some of the misunderstandings here in the Pacific, but much work is still ahead of us.
E. M. Kauser