The Ahmadyya Muslim community of Iceland held the 3rd National Peace Symposium in downtown Reykjavík yesterday evening.
The event was mainly intended to be a forum of discussion on peace and leadership. At a moment where rampant Islamophobia and xenophobia continues seeping through the doors of the West, the event was also an opportunity to get to know the local Muslim community and what Islam stands for.
“We claim to be such advanced nations, in every sense, but our actions often prove the contrary,” organiser and Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Iceland Mansoor Ahmad Malik explains. “But what disappoints me is that while everything is at our fingertips, including information, the tension we create between ourselves is often based on a lack of understanding, or rather on the image we develop in our mind of a person or a nation without actually trying to talk and understand them.”
All sides of the story
The event attracted mostly Icelanders, as well as foreigners living in Iceland. Exponents of various religious communities in Iceland were also invited as part of the panel, including Bishop of the Catholic Church of Iceland David Tencer and Michael Levin, representing the Jewish community of Iceland, as well as Director of the Human Rights Centre Margrét Steinarsdóttir and Imam Ibrahim Noonan.
With a message of peace and justice that, the Imam stressed, is inherent to Islam and its teachings, the speakers argued for the importance of justice, education and respect for human rights to foster peace and understanding, as well as to protect our faltering democracies.
“There are elements of fear now surrounding Islam—concepts that are spreading around the continent and changing the Europe we know,” Imam Ibrahim Noonan explained. “Our responsibility, in this case, is to try to get to know all sides of the story.”
A humble beginning
The best way to do so in our own small, personal way, is to simply reach out to other communities in order to give back. For some time now, the Ahmadyya community in Iceland has been organising charity funds, meals for the less fortunate and the ‘Meet A Muslim Family’ campaign, that has proven to be quite successful in Canada.
Through the campaign, Icelanders are invited into the home of a Muslim family in order to share experiences and knowledge about different aspects of life.
“Since my childhood, and from what I learnt from my parents or when I was training to become a missionary, Islam has been to me nothing but peace, nothing but harmony, nothing but equality, nothing but respect for each other,” Imam Mansoor Malik concluded. “Even if this is a humble beginning, I know we have to carry on trying to push for peace. So let’s just get to know each other. Despite our differences, we can live together in peace.”
To learn more about the ‘Meet A Muslim Family’ campaign contact Imam Mansoor Malik via Twitter.