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Explore Islam event in Oro-Medonte draws a crowd

'Our purpose is just to go around and make an impression, to teach people about the peaceful Islam, the true Islam,' says official

Islam was explored at an event Saturday hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association in Oro-Medonte Township.

The association says dozens attended the four-hour event at Maryam Mosque on Line 7 South.

The event was part of a national Explore Islam campaign, to provide Canadians an opportunity to meet with Muslims and explore the true teachings of Islam.

Its goal is to visit 1,000 cities and towns across Canada.

“It’s mostly remote towns,” said Ihtisham Ahmed, local director of outreach with the association’s Barrie chapter. “At these remote towns, a lot of them might not have the best understanding of Islam and … when there’s a vacuum of information, a lot of times they get their understanding of Islam through social media.

“Our purpose is just to go around and make an impression, to teach people about the peaceful Islam, the true Islam.”

Ahmed said, secondarily, the association would like to have discussion, interfaith dialogue, to understand different viewpoints and share its points of view as well.

“When we say different viewpoints, we mean people from other faiths, from other religions,” he said. “So, whether that be other schools of thought in Islam, or whether it be completely different religions as well, in Islam we encourage interfaith dialogue.

“So, this is just an opportunity for us to use the 1,000 towns campaign to do that.”

This is a recently launched campaign for the local chapter, but it has happened before on a national level, Ahmed said.

He said despite facing some discrimination, Muslims must try to make a good impression in Canada.

“It takes a bit of effort and that’s where we’re willing to put ourselves out there despite discrimination we might face,” Ahmed said. “There’s not a single reason for (discrimination), but mostly, a lot of people, when they’re not sure about something, they create their understanding through whatever they find.

“A lot of times, if you go on social media, there might be some stuff online talking about Muslims in a bad light. Usually, I think that’s what happens in places where there is not a lot of presence of Muslims. They get the wrong understanding, though, and that is exactly what we’re trying to challenge, bringing ourselves to those remote towns to have a Muslim presence there so they understand what Islam truly is about.”

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