Spanish Bride steps up with Muslims

I’ve been quite critical of a steady diatribe against Muslims and Islam at Whale Oil, but in a major shift in approach  Spanish Bride has posted a surprisingly conciliatory account of a meeting with some local (Auckland) Muslims.

I’m quoting more of the post than I normally would because I think it’s important to share this story and it’s sentiments – but Whale Oil deserves a click through for this.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

It is fair to say that I am a cynical person and that I do not trust easily or quickly. On the other hand deep down I really do want us all to get along, to find common ground, and to live and let live.Both of these feelings were uneasily swirling around inside of me when I visited New Zealand’s largest mosque with Pete.

Obviously not me – presumably Peter Belt.

Before the visit I had decided that since I was there at their invitation I would spend most of my time listening. I did ask the questions I had come to ask but I focused on listening and observing. I learned a lot and it cannot be summed up in just one article.

Good on her for taking up an invitation to see and listen for herself. And good on Pete as well.

Of the three gentlemen that I met,two of them gave me the impression of being typical Kiwis because of their appearance and manner.I felt comfortable talking to Iqbal Mohammed ( National President ) and Eqbal Khan (General Secretary and Secretary of External Affairs of the community Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Nz inc ) by the end I was joking with them. Shafiq ur Rehman who is the Missionary In-Charge was more formal and serious in his manner and speech but he too dressed like a Kiwi.

We talked for a long time and at the end it was clear to me that they are as concerned about extremism and terrorism as I am. In fact they gave me a pamphlet entitled ‘Eradicating Extremism’ and a book titled, ‘World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace. I will read them and give my review to readers when I am able.

The back of their business card says ‘Muslims for: Loyalty, Freedom. Equality. Respect.Peace’

It makes sense that the Ahmadiyya community shares our concerns as in Pakistan you can murder an Ahmadiyya Muslim and take all his possessions and you will not be punished.They know what it is like to be persecuted. Britain has imported some of this hatred and it is not something that we want brought to New Zealand. This video illustrates the unbelievable lengths one Ahmadiyya mosque in Britain has had to go to in order to protect their community from Muslims who do not consider them to be following the correct version of Islam.

Iqbal Mohammed sent me the video to show me how imported extremism is getting worse in the UK. Muslims who are not tolerant of the Amadiyya Muslims and show their intolerance with death threats, violence and murder are Muslims who will equally be a threat to our New Zealand way of life. Iqbal said that extremism is something we must all stand together against in order to safeguard the future of our children irrespective of their colour creed and beliefs and I heartily agree with him.

While they (Ahmadiyya ) are not always made welcome and are in fact rejected by other branches of Islam, anyone from any religion ( including Judaism ) or branch of Islam is welcome to visit their Mosque. They believe that their branch of Islam is ‘true Islam,’ and from what I can tell it follows the peaceful and tolerant verses of the Koran.

Now before I go any further I know that there are are a few questions you all are dying to ask about the visit.  I packed a scarf inside my bag in case I was asked to cover my hair. I was not asked to cover my hair. The mosque had separate entrances for male and female and separate prayer rooms. Pete and I were taken through the same entrance. I was shown through the male areas as well as the female areas. I was even shown inside the male toilets so we could see the ablution area for washing feet.

When Pete invited himself along I wondered if conversations would be directed towards him rather than me and whether eye contact would be made with him and not me. Shafiq ur Rehman gave me most of his attention and addressed most of his explanations to me.  I did not feel  in any way excluded.  There was one difference however and one that I expected because of my knowledge of Islam. Pete was offered a handshake by the men and I was not.  I was treated with respect by all three men in every other way.

I left the mosque with one clear thought in my mind and that is that I want to be part of the solution. I have spent a lot of time alerting our readership to the dangers as I see them but now I need to focus on solutions.  The men I met at the mosque want solutions as much as I do. They feel very much the meat in the middle. On the one hand they cannot get any traction in the media when they condemn terrorist attacks and talk about what they feel ‘true Islam’ is ( peaceful, tolerant ) and  on the other hand they are on the receiving end of all the negative feeling caused by the actions of Muslims that they do not believe are following ‘ true Islam ‘.

I may not believe what the Ahmadiyya  believe but I do accept that they want to protect New Zealand from extremism and what they see as the actions of Muslims who are not following ‘ true Islam.’  We can work together to discuss solutions to protect New Zealand and to help them get heard when mainstream media are only interested in controversy or glossing over the very real dangers. While I may not agree with their version of ‘true Islam’ their actions tell me that their version is not about causing conflict. We have taken the first step by meeting and talking. It was a scary step for both sides I think but one I am glad we took.

It was gutsy of local Muslims  to invite a strident critic of Islam along to meet them, and gutsy of Juana to go and listen and see for herself.

Posting online it’s easy to get too detached from issues that involve real people, and a lot can be gained by meeting face to face.

This could be seen as a single step but it’s a big step in the right direction.

One of the strengths of new Zealand society is our ability to live and work and socialise alongside fellow Kiwis without caring and often not knowing about difference religious beliefs and associations.

We are becoming increasingly diverse as a wider range of immigrants choose to live here, but it’s essential we learn to live with more tolerance and understanding.

Kiwi Muslims could become invaluable role models for the world of Islam, and we can all play a part by showing we can get live peacefully side by side.

Leave a comment

23 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  15th April 2016

    Good stuff. The solution to the Muslim extremist problem has to come from Muslim moderates. They deserve our help for that.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  15th April 2016

      I find the attitude of many Western women to Muslim women incredibly patronising with its assumption that Muslim women who dress in a way that doesn’t reveal their bodies are downtrodden idiots-even those who wear the scarf come in for this. Never mind that there are a number of Muslim women doctors here, they must be victims of the patriarchy, Brown assumes that the Muslim way is for the woman to walk behind the man because he’s seen two Muslims who do this. He has never seen Muslim men pushing the pram, which I see quite often. One young Muslim mother whose gorgeous clothes and face veil made her look like someone from the Arabian Nights stories was driving a modern SUV and wearing running shoes under her glam clothes.

      Reply
    • Kevin

       /  15th April 2016

      The moderates are irrelevant. The solution comes from wiping out the extremists, like Reagan did to the communists.

      Reply
      • You don’t know that you’re talking about, Kevin. The tag of “extremist” can be applied to those who are simply fighting against oppression. Who gets to decide who is moderate and who in an extremist?

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  16th April 2016

        Sunni muslims blowing themselves up with suicide belts or cars in Shia mosques and marketplaces are not likely to be fighting oppression.

        Reply
  2. Nelly Smickers

     /  15th April 2016

    Juana & Pete seen leaving the Mosque…….Hahahahalal XD

    Reply
  3. Brown

     /  15th April 2016

    They will be on their best behaviour because it suits them. Some of us remain sensibly suspicious because history shows a pattern of behaviour that simply does not fit with the west’s liberalism.

    Reply
    • jamie

       /  15th April 2016

      I absolutely agree. Their history makes it very hard to trust.

      But even Juana and Pete deserve a shot a redemption.

      Reply
  4. duperez

     /  16th April 2016

    I like it when strident and hidebound people say they were wrong about something. Even if in the process they don’t come to come to face the reality that some of the other idiot stuff they believe is wrong or silly it exposes their fallibility to the rest of the world.

    Reply
  5. Urban Redneck

     /  16th April 2016

    “Kiwi Muslims could become invaluable role models for the world of Islam, and we can all play a part by showing we can get live peacefully side by side.”

    . . . and Pollyanna was very happy about that too !!

    Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  16th April 2016

      We’re quite influential down here with our example you know. Look at how we stopped the proliferation of Nuclear weapons by becoming Nuclear free. There are none where I live.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  16th April 2016

      Matters less which is the true Islam than which is the most intolerant one and which one predominates when the numbers get big in the West.

      Reply
      • If you’re too tolerant you risk being nice.

        nice (adj.)
        late 13c., “foolish, stupid, senseless,” from Old French nice (12c.) “careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish,” from Latin nescius “ignorant, unaware,” literally “not-knowing,” from ne- “not” (see un-) + stem of scire “to know” (see science). “

        Reply
  6. I don’t care which or what type of Islam is “true”. Every Muslim should have freedom to pursue the “aliran” (interpretation) of their particular sect and avoid trashing of others beliefs. Extremist views of any type have no validity at all by definition. We certainly need to observe closely what is going on in the mosques once the Egyptian mullahs arrive, and make it very cliear that extreme interpretations of Islam have no place in New Zealand.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  16th April 2016

      It’s not just the extremism it’s the ethos of the religion which is also a culture and system of governance. The Quran teaches that muslims are morally and ethically superior to followers of other religions and non-believers. Once their numbers get large enough, the more devout followers want to apply their superior laws to themselves and to others. This is incompatible with Western values.

      Reply
    • Every Muslim should have freedom to pursue the “aliran” (interpretation) of their particular sect and avoid trashing of others beliefs.

      Yes, interpretations vary, but not all beliefs can be supported by a reasonable interpretation of the facts. We all share the world, what is important is the factual substance of the world rather than our beliefs about the world.

      Reply
    • Klik Bate

       /  16th April 2016

      @bjm1

      To be honest, I was utterly appalled to hear we were allowing Egyptian Imams into this country to preach at the mosques. Surely it would have made more sense to send a battalion of them to Brussels or France?

      These Imams from Cairo have been spectacularly unsuccessful in promoting Islam’s ‘peaceful’ message at home, as recent events have shown only too clearly. Perhaps once the moozlims of Egypt have learned to play nicely with each other, only then should we welcome them to this country.

      Reply
  7. There is a marked difference in Islamic attitudes depending on the place of origin of Muslims. Indonesia which is the larges Muslim country in the world contains a very good illustration of this. If you go North and West of Sumatera, you get to meet the people of Aceh who will tell you quite proudly that they extremist Muslims and have never been colonised (fact). They have been the hotbed of extremist behavour including terrorism since the 11th Century. Trot over to the East and Java Island and you will meet Muslims who are open, happy and humble except in the highlands of Java which has been a hot bed of exyremist activities since Independence. They are the people Gezza talks about and are the source of Indonesia’s Darul Islam extremists. Indonesia has some 120 different labguage groups and many dialects, especially in Irian Jaya. They have a multitude of different ethnic groups ranging from Arabic, Hindu, Christian Catholic, Christian Protestant, Spiritualists, Mystics, Animists etc. Yet the system mostly works, because of the overall moderate way in which Sharia Law is interpreted, as well as the determination of the TNI the Indonesian Army to ensure that the Government is a secular democracy. Should that change because of the influence of hard-line Mullahs with big money coming from the Middle East and influencing the leaching in Islamic schools with extremist interpretations of Islam, then we need to be concerned, as Indonesia is our largest neighbour and it sits astride one of the biggest “chokepoints” for our trade routes. Pakistan, Bangladesh and the countries of the Middle East also have, different Islamic sects and cultural mores that affect the nature of their implementation of Islam. So it is more than ideaology that determines the nature of Islam, it is the culture of the people as well, but ultimately it is extremist interpretations which cause the problem as they believe that the end justifies the means.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  16th April 2016

      This is just a question, not a criticism cos I’m not sure what you’re posting with – can you paragraph more?

      Reply
      • To paraphrase bjmarsh, culture (i.e. the actual practices of society) should not be ignored when considering ideology.

        Re extremism, I’m going to counter with the argument that a preference for the majority view can result in fixation on tradition and an inability to adapt to changing circumstances.

        Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  16th April 2016

      An informative comment, thanks BJ.

      Reply

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