By Chris Miller, Cold Lake Sun
Keeping an open mind to other faiths, students at Assumption School — a Catholic school — have been studying Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Bahai, Islam and other world religions.
Grade 11 student Laura Baker contacted Ajaz Quraishi, president of the Cold Lake Islamic Society, to give a presentation about Islam to her classmates on March 23. Accepting the invitation, Quraishi fielded students' questions about everything from the Qu'ran and the sunnah to Mecca and almsgiving. Bishops at the Vatican wrote, "Although in the course of the centuries many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, this sacred Synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding."
Islam, a 1,400-year-old religion, literally means "peace". Quraishi said it is the fastest growing religion in North America. When he came to Canada to 1967, about 2,000 Canadians were Muslims. Today, Christians are rubbing shoulders more and more with Muslims, as an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide are Muslims, about 600,000 of them Canadians. About 50 Lakeland area residents are Muslims.
Contrary to popular belief, only about 15 per cent of all Muslims are Arabs. Quraishi explained to students the background of the prophet Muhammad and his mission to ending the vicious cycle of murder and warfare among pre-Islamic tribes. Muslims worship one God, whom they call Allah. Quraishi said that Muslims believe that Allah has sent messengers throughout history, but over time people have misunderstood or misinterpreted those messages. This includes the teachings of Adam, Abraham, Ishmael, Noah, Solomon, David, Jesus, et al. Quraishi also explained the five pillars of the Muslim faith: 1) declaration
of faith, 2) prayer, 3) fasting (during Ramadan) 4) almsgiving, and 5) pilgrimage to Mecca.
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Letter to the editor of Cold Lake Sun, by Norman McRae
I HAVE JUST heard on CNN that the terror plot in Great Britain was tipped off to the authorities by moderate Muslims in Britain. All I can say to this is a huge THANK YOU to all moderate Muslims in the world. Deep down, the rest of us also know that the vast majority of Muslims in the world just want peace and respect for all, and this act should be proof of that fact to all non-Muslims.
I hope that this large, important, even vital bit of information is broadcast to everyone who mistrusts those of the Islamic faith. Islam had given the Western world a huge amount of knowledge, and also preserved much Greek and Roman knowledge that would have been lost during the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe, and for that, we should thank them.
Unfortunately, extremists have surfaced everywhere, and not just in the Islam world. David Koresh, Skinheads, Neo-Nazis and other Christian extremists have tarnished the Christian world just as bad as those extremists who claim to be Muslim, and they are all just as shunned by the real mainstream majority of both of these religions.
Remember that Adam and Noah, Abraham and Jacob are all the same people, whether they be in the Qu'oran, the Torah, or the Bible. We all worship the same God, whether you call Him Allah or Jehovah. Islam even accepts Jesus as one of God's prophets. Now why can't the rest of us learn to accept each other?
Cold Lake, AB
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN)