Three ways to counter hate following anniversary of London attack

The following article was published by The Toronto Star on June 7, 2022.

The anniversary of the heinous attack and killing of Muslim family of London, Ont., is a time of deep sadness and reflection for all Canadians. In addition to expressing our sympathies and solidarity, there are some practical steps we can all take to counter hate in our society.

As an Imam with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of Canada, I often get to hear and engage with Canadian Muslims on how they feel about this issue.

Sometimes, it is saddening to hear some of them saying that they were not surprised when they heard about the London or Quebec City attack. The reason is that they have felt an increased amount of discrimination and hatred toward Muslims, whether it be in real life or over social media platforms. When they see this hate and animosity manifest itself in real life, they somewhat expect it and are not entirely shocked by it.

Others are more hopeful, especially seeing enormous support and solidarity from all major political leaders and the public. I specifically remember the case of a Quebec Muslim woman who lost her job due to wearing her hijab. However, she received major support from our social and political leaders, over social media and even the students at her school. Seeing such kind of support in public certainly has a healing affect for Muslims.

However, other than merely showing support and sympathy for fellow Canadian Muslims, there are concrete steps we can all take to bring about improvement. These include more interaction with fellow Muslims, having the courage to stand against any kind of hate we witness, and having sympathy and compassion for all of humanity in our hearts. Let me elaborate further.

Education is the best method to cure and prevent hatred. If we make a more concerted effort to get to know our fellow Muslims, whether they are our neighbours, doctors, or co-workers, we are more likely to create those bridges of friendship and goodwill.

The second important step is to develop courage and bravery to stand against any kind of hate or discrimination we witness around us. There is a famous saying that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The background or identity of victim should not even matter. If we make a firm resolution that we will not tolerate any kind of hatred or racism toward anyone, it can go a long way in combating hate in our society.

In my faith, Islam, there is a famous tradition of Prophet Muhammad, which says to help your brother, whether he is being oppressed or is the oppressor. Bewildered, his followers asked that we understand helping the oppressed, but how can we help the oppressor? He replied: By stopping him from committing oppression.

The third step is to inculcate and instill love and compassion for fellow human beings in our hearts. If we want to rid ourselves of this kind of hatred, we need to embrace the humanity of each person. I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, which was founded by His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He has a famous saying that carries a great lesson for us all: “A human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all.”

Nelson Mandela famously said that if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. We are all worried about unrest and lack of peace, whether in our local cities or on a global scale. However, if we can pass on and instill this one important principle in our next generation to have compassion for all of humanity, it can go a long way in establishing peace and removing hate from our society.

Luqman Ahmed, Ottawa



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