‘Ask me anything’: Muslim youth collective brings its travelling exhibit to Inuvik

Inuvik mayor Clarence Wood, centre, and Naveed ul Islam, third from left. Islam visited Inuvik as part of a group of Ahmadiyya Muslims undertaking a national campaign to educate people about Islam, and to counter Islamophobia. (Karli Zschogner/CBC)

Ahmadiyya Muslim men travelled from Toronto and Saskatoon to Inuvik this weekend, as part of a travelling exhibit that aims to educate people about Islam, and counter Islamophobia. 

“We wanted to come to the North … to learn from them about how they live and what sort of activities we can be a part of,” said Naveed ul Islam. “Helping humanity is part of our duty.”

On Sunday afternoon the group hosted an open house at the Midnight Sun Complex so that people could ask questions about the religion.

Inuvik Elder Ruth Wright dropped in on Sunday, after seeing a poster.

“There is a lot of Muslims all over the place in the world and I just wanted a better understanding of them and their religion,” she said.

Islam said the initiative started in 2019 with the goal to reach out to town and cities from coast to coast.

Because of the pandemic, last year was the group’s first road trip from east to west, and this was their first trip this far north. Islam credited one member of their particular faith based in Inuvik for making connections in the Beaufort Delta region.

A monument for Inuvik?

On Monday night, the group will make a presentation to town council asking where they may be able to help or donate. Islam said their intended community partnership is for the long-term.

They’ll also make a presentation on a monument they’d like to help build in the community, modelled on a similar initiative in Windsor, Ont. That monument, built in 2017, features a large globe held up by four hands and is titled “Love for All, Hatred for None,” which is also the collective’s motto.

A monument erected in Windsor, Ont., in 2017. A group of Ahmadiyya Muslims will propose a similar monument to Inuvik’s town council Monday. (Submitted by Naveed ul Islam)

“This monument reminds them that at the end of the day, we all are humans … and we all deserve to be loved,” Islam said.

“We are here to build bridges, not destroy them. So this monument is a very timely, needed message and I think Canada also needs it, just like the rest of the world.”

‘It sends a good message’

Inuvik Mayor Clarence Wood met with the group over the weekend and said he supports such a monument.

“I think it’s a good message for all of us,” Wood said.

“I think for the Town of Inuvik, it sends a good message to anybody that we can all get along. I mean, we have so many different groups here in town.”

One of the things Islam said their group emphasizes is women’s rights. His group denounces such Islam sects as the Taliban who oppose the education of women and girls.

“This is a prime example of how the misunderstandings about Islam have crept in the society,” said Islam. “The Holy Quran, which is our, the founding book of Islam, categorically states that there is no oppression in religion, so in the name of religion, you’re not allowed to oppress anyone.”

“So the Ahmadiyya community believes in freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression, as it was taught to us by Holy Prophet Muhammad himself.”

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Milestone’ hit as wind turbine arrives in Inuvik, but project now more than $20M over budget, CBC News

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