President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Jamaica, Misnary Umair Khan, is encouraging Jamaicans to visit the Mahdi Mosque, 25 Sugar Way, Bushy Park in Old Harbour, St. Catherine for dialogue. Khan said the dialogue is an opportunity for Jamaicans to remove any misconceptions about the religion of Islam. Free tours and discussions will be organized for Friday March 25th from 1pm-4pm which will also include a prayer session from 1:30pm – 2:00 pm for the loss of innocent lives. The public is welcome to attend regardless of religious background. Click this link to LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
Since establishing its headquarters in the Old Harbour region the movement has been working closely with communities in the area and is a strong supporter of the Bushy Park Community Development Committee’s adult literacy programme which saw students and tutors being recognised on day one of the conference. Click audio to listen to interview. Click this link to LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
“They come with their own challenges and personal problems,” she added. “So you become a counselor as well; and you have to be a good listener and you have to deal with those issues too before you deal with the formal lesson. But you have to make people believe that they are important and that they matter.” While we sat there speaking, a young farmer, who is a student, brought sweet potatoes and cucumbers for the chief co-ordinator. He said it was his gift to her, reminding the tutor that it was Teacher’s Day too. It was a moment that warmed the heart. It also speaks volumes of the kind of relationship and respect already establish between teachers and students. On the other hand the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is making its own contribution to the community. Still a very small group in Jamaica with less than 500 adherents on the island they were very happy to assist the CDC at the first time of asking. Maulana Idrees Ahmed is the missionary in charge of the facility and he told Old Harbour News that assisting the CDC’s educational initiative is not viewed in any way as a burden by the religious organisation. The Maulana or Reverend as we would say in Christianity said: “We consider education as part of our duty and our facility here is not for us but for the community, so anybody who wants to come here is always welcome. This facility is for Jamaicans and particularly those who live around the community. “The first revelation that was given to the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, was about education that God said you should read. Because when you are born into this world without knowledge you remain like a muscle of flesh but once you begin to learn and gain knowledge then you uplift from that status and you become a new creature. So we always encourage people to learn and that is why when they (the Bushy Park CDC) came we were ready to help,” added Ahmed, who is from Ghana. Despite the laudable efforts of the Bushy Park CDC and the support from the Ahmadiyya Muslims, there are some concerns, out of ignorance some people may argue. According to Maragh-Fuller out of sheer ignorance some persons have refused to attend the CDC’s literacy classes due to the constant demonizing of Muslims in some international spheres as terrorists. It is a view that Maragh-Fuller, who is not a Muslim, is passionate about. “I have spoken to persons who I have told to come but they told me ‘mi pastor seh mi not to go over the Muslim church’. But I think I have read enough to know that Islam is just another religion like other religions that talk to God and seek to love and to care. We have to learn as a society to be more tolerant of other people. “I know of a lady who was about to get a job, and they wanted to employ her because she’s a good person at heart, but she cannot read and so she could not get the job. She’s never had a formal job, she’s always hustling. But one of the sad things is because of church she doesn’t want to come over here because it’s a Muslim church. “Jamaica is small and we have to join with the rest of the world because the world is now a global village. “So we have to teach our children tolerance, we cannot keep them locked up in a box. We have to learn to live as one people, whether you are a Rastafari, whether you are a Hindu, whether you are a Taoist or Buddhist, everybody has a right to live and to worship. And that is what I want for my people in my class to learn that we are one people,” she said. She argued that too many things such as politics and class, are being used to divide societies and that “irrespective of our differences our similarities are even greater”. She told Old Harbour News that Islam isn’t taught to the students nor is there any effort by their facilitators to force their beliefs on the group. “We don’t talk religion here. What we talk about here is love and education,” she said.