Dispelling Muslim myths at the heart of coffee catch-ups

NZ media were really upping the taqiyya in the days before March 15th. See also: Questions for NZ Muslims.

See also: Not Real Muslims

Imam Mustenser Qamar hopes to open up discussions between Muslims and non-Muslims.

If there’s anything you’ve always wished you could ask a Muslim person, now’s your chance.

An initiative hoping to dispel negative connotations associated with Islam will bring non-Muslims and Muslims together to share a cuppa and cake on a nationwide tour.

Meet a Muslim – a drive led by two Islamic leaders – hopes to promote positive discussions in the lead up to the March 15 terror attack anniversary by creating a space to openly chat and ask the hard questions, imam Mustenser Qamar said.

Wellington-based Qamar started the project three years ago by posting his availability to meet on social media. The concept soon caught on, with meet-ups scheduled around the country to chat with people from a range of religious backgrounds, he said.

“There were a lot of questions about womens’ rights … A lot of atheists want to talk about the existence of God or the concept of Jihad, but not everything is about religion. Sometimes we just talk about life,” he said.

Qamar wants to dispell myths about Islam in the hope of getting more understanding about the faith.

The campaign is one of several outreach initiatives aimed at dispelling misconceptions about Islam, including Quran exhibitions, question sessions, public talks, mosque open days and candid, open-minded discussions at Meet a Muslim events.

Two imams will lead a group of Muslim youth as they travel around the country. Throughout the tour, the group will head to the streets wearing shirts saying ‘I’m a Muslim ask me anything’ in the hope of starting discussions, and host private gatherings.

Stops in the tour include Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson, Picton, Blenheim, Grovetown, Kaik?ura, Waipara, Amberley, Christchurch, Culverden, Hanmer Springs and Reefton.

The first event is scheduled in Nelson on Wednesday, with a meeting in Christchurch on Saturday. Enrolment is available on the True Islam NZ Facebook page.

“We get negative comments on the page quite often … telling people to go away and that they are not wanted here, but that just shows even more we need to change perceptions.”

Waikato-based imam Sabahuzafar? said he hoped to change the perception of Muslim people in the media, as usually the only exposure was negative.

“We invite everyone, whether you have questions or not, to just come and meet us. Get to know a Muslim or just come and ask any questions you have.”

Qamar said the Meet a Muslim campaign was timed to coincide with the terror attack remembrance events, to drive a counter-narrative and show “Muslims are no different”.

“As we recall the horrific events from last year, we remember the tragedy, the loss of life, but also the coming together of the whole nation and standing against discrimination and terror,” he said.

At the time, the unity displayed was “unprecedented and unseen”, but there have still been racist and Islamophobic events throughout the country since, he said.

“Ignorance leads to misunderstandings, which can lead to negative perceptions and stereotyping.”


One comment

  1. Taqiyya, or dissimulation, is permitted only in specific circumstances, such as when a confession of faith would result in one’s torture or execution. For instance, the Moriscos (Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity after 1492) of Spain were permitted to practice taqiyya to avoid the attention of the Inquisition. If some Muslims think taqiyya is permitted to gain some material advantage, or to advance the cause of Islam, they are mistaken.

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