There’s much about the Islamic world that is of concern, particularly terrorism from radical factions. But to link all Muslims with violence is grossly misguided and counterproductive. So, members of a Chicago Islamic group have been engaging people in the community to promote mutual understanding and respect.

However routine their lives become, Muslims in Chicago are aware of the growing anxieties regarding their role in society.


I met with a few representatives of the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community USA last week as they commemorated Eid-ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Members of the group’s Chicago West Chapter worship regularly at Bait-ul-Jaame Mosque in Glen Ellyn, Ill.


Imam I.H. Kauser, the group’s regional missionary, emphasized during the service how personal sacrifice makes us feel closer to our fellow humans. The fasts during Ramadan, done from dawn to dusk each day of the month, fosters self-discipline and empathy, he said. He urged the people assembled for prayer to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr joyfully while continuing to serve others, particularly those less fortunate.


Dr. Masood Qazi, president of the Chicago West Chapter, said this worldwide Islamic movement was founded specifically to promote peace. Even though members are subjected to repression, they remain committed to nonviolence in living their faith, Qazi said.


Founded in 1889, the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community adheres to the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India. Ahmad, claiming to be the “metaphorical second coming of Jesus,” was sent by God to “end religious wars; condemn bloodshed; and reinstitute morality, justice and peace,” according to the group’s literature. Members have long publicly rejected terrorism and “jihad by the sword.”


Haris Ahmed, regional spokesman for the group, said members have responded to increased tensions in several ways. They have increased prayer and self-reflection about bettering their lives, conducted additional interfaith exchanges, launched the Muslims for Peace campaign, engaged people online, and volunteered for activities like blood drives and collecting donations for disaster victims.


There’s much about the Islamic world that is of concern, particularly terrorism from radical factions. But to link all Muslims with violence is grossly misguided and counterproductive.


Ignorance and fear lead to hate, not mutual understanding. Rather than confronting tyranny, this method paves the way for it.


Is that really what we want?