A campaign to separate Muslim extremism from true Islam has been spreading the word in Orange County via a booth up every Saturday at Cypress College.
“It is our hope that our peace-loving brothers and sisters of the Southern California community visit our booth to learn more about our campaign,” explains Ahsan Khan, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Los Angeles East, which sponsors the booth. “This will provide much needed insight into the actual, peaceful message of True Islam.”
That is the name of the campaign, True Islam, and Khan’s chapter is an affiliate of Silver Spring, MD-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, which was founded in 1920 and boasts of being the oldest American-Muslim organization.
The Ahmadiyya Islamic religious movement was founded in Punjab, British India, after Mirza Ghulam Ahmad took an oath of allegiance from companions at his home in 1889. Much of the faith aligns with the Sunni tradition, although Ahmad is believed by followers to be the messiah prophesied by Muhammad. Ahmadis also claim Ahmad appeared in the likeness of Jesus to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstate morality, justice and peace.
There are said to be tens of millions of Ahmadis throughout the world, and many who now adhere to other Islamic traditions credit Ahmadiyya with first exposing them to Islam. But several Islamic countries have also labeled the Ahmadis as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected followers to persecution and oppression.
The True Islam campaign rejects the notion that the “original” Islam is a violent ideology, and that reconciling Islam with modern values requires an “Islam 2.0,” according to the American Ahmadis, who also take issue with Donald Trump’s attempts to demonize them.
The goal of the campaign that has blossomed in Orange County is to educate “Americans and Muslim Americans on the peaceful, anti-extremist teachings of Islam”—as taught by the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad—including these 11 points (or counterpoints to Islamic radicalization):
o True Islam wholly rejects all forms of terrorism.
o True Islam believes in nonviolent Jihad of the self and of the pen.
o True Islam believes in the equality, education, and empowerment of women.
o True Islam advocates freedom of conscience, religion, and speech.
o True Islam advocates for the separation of mosque and state.
o True Islam believes in loyalty to your country of residence.
o True Islam encompasses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
o True Islam believes in all verses of the Qur’an and forbids lying.
o True Islam recognizes that no religion can monopolize salvation.
o True Islam believes in the need for unified Muslim leadership.
o True Islam rejects the concept of a bloody Messiah.
“The Muslim American community is a diverse and vibrant community, and we may not necessarily agree on certain dogmatic beliefs,” explains Nasim Rehmatullah, senior vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. “Our purpose here is not to debate dogma, but to recognize the common enemy of ignorance, fear, and extremism that harms all Americans regardless of belief. Our purpose is to stand united against extremism for the sake of peace and true Islam. On this tenet of justice, we look forward to working with all Muslim Americans and indeed all Americans to win this ideological war against extremism.”
If you can’t make it out to the booth, learn more about True Islam at trueislam.com and on social media @TrueIslamUSA.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.