A Muslim youth organization says it wants to “unveil the mystery behind women in Islam,” during an open house Saturday at the Sarnia Public Library.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, a non-profit religious organization with 86 chapters in Canada, held other information open houses earlier this year in Sarnia.
Saturday's event, running from noon to 4 p.m. at the downtown library in Sarnia, is titled Mother Mary in Islam, and will be similar to open houses planned for other Canadian communities.
“We are reaching out to all the small communities that may not have large Muslim populations,” said Imam Ghalib Baten, a spokesperson for the association, “to give them exposure to Muslims and Islam, firsthand, and show that we have much more in common than in difference.”
Baten said one of the aims of Saturday's open house is to talk about Mary, a revered figure in both Islam and Christianity.
“Mary is used as a role model in the Holy Qur'an, for the believers,” including men, Baten said.
“We want to point out this teaching for Christians, that we have great respect for Jesus as a prophet of God, and we have great respect for his mother.”
Baten pointed that in artistic depictions of Mary, “she's always modestly dressed, and she has her head covered.”
In a press release announcing the open house, the association condemned terrorist attacks, including those that took place in Belgium. It said Muslim women in the West have faced backlash from attacks, leading to concern over their safety, and their freedom of expression because of efforts to ban the Islamic Hijab and veil in public places and educational facilities.
“We believe legislation shouldn't be passed against the way women dress,” Baten said.
At open houses the association has held in the past, the response “has always been positive,” he said.
Often, individuals come to the events with misconceptions, including a commonly held one that Islam oppresses women, Baten said.
But, he said that when Islam began it raised the status of women, including expending the right to inheritances and to own property, long before similar rights were granted to women in Western cultures.
Baten said the aim of the open houses is to show that Islam is a progressive religion.
“But, it has been misconstrued, and a few people have high-jacked it, and they're making everyone look bad,” he said.
“I think it's very important that we represent the true face of Islam.”
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IF YOU GO
WHAT: Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association open house on Mother Mary in Islam.
WHERE: Sarnia Public Library, downtown.
WHEN: Saturday, April 30, noon to 4 p.m.
Here is an example how Islam treats its women! Is this a religion of peace?