Matiullah Joyia, Imam (leader) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Hawaii, reached out to the Ke Alaka‘i after the recent terrorist attack in New York City to make a statement on behalf of the Muslim community in hopes to broaden people’s understanding of the religion.
“I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims of these eight and others as well,” Joyia said. “We have always condemned these acts of horror and brutality.”
Joyia said there are misconceptions in the media concerning the Muslim faith while explaining how hurtful it can be to the hundreds of Muslim communities when ignorant remarks are made grouping all Muslims together.
“Our main purpose is just to create awareness and also try to tell people that whatever is going on unfortunately in the Muslim world is not what Islam is all about,” he said.
“Just to label the 1.5 billion people who make up 25 percent of the human race with just these extremist is not fair,” Joyia said. “The extremist are totally wrong. There’s no reason for them to be doing these things. They are very small in number compared to the whole [number of Muslims in the world] when you take the ratio.
“The extremists are using or manipulating some of the verses in the Quran for their political agenda, and with almost all the religions, and unfortunately a lot of people don’t like being religious because of this fact that religion has been manipulated. In the Quran there are certain verses if one does not know the background of the stories and did not read what is before those verses or after those verses, they can be misleading.”
Joyia said there are different denomina-tions of the Muslim faith throughout the world. These groups are established in every continent. Traditions and practices vary from country to country and place to place just like Christianity.
“There are more than a dozen Muslim countries and every country is totally different,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people look at one Middle Eastern country and they think this is what Islam is. That’s wrong. That’s what we’re trying to tell people. Please don’t judge everybody because of what’s happening in that conflicted area.”
Joyia is the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is one of the dozens of denominations within the Muslim faith.
“We are very similar to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints in many ways,” Joyia explained. “We’re called the Mormons of Muslims. You guys are called the Ahmadiyya of the Christians.”
Joyia explained how their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet born in 1835 that Muhammad prophesied would come in the latter days. He was a reformer towards the end of the 19th century and is referred to as the “divinely guided one” or “Madi.”
“We claim our version of Islam is the real version of Islam that was brought by the prophet Muhammad,” he said. “Which is a peaceful and tolerant and harmonious religion”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is now found in 210 countries of the world. Their motto is “love for all, hatred for none.”
“So our community is actually lead by our international leader we call him the Khalifah of Islam or the Khalif of Islam,” Joyia said. “His name is Mirza Masroor Ahmad and he lives in London, and we have tens of millions of followers. So we all pledge our allegiance to him.”
When asked what people outside of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community can do to better educate themselves concerning their faith, Joyia suggested to go to the two main sources that are the Quran and its official website.
“I will recommend them to go to trueislam.com in which lists 11 points that a true Muslim believes in,” Joyia explained. “They can actually even go and endorse themselves for those 11 points Islam believes in equality and rejects aggression.”
He went on to talk about the teachings found within the Quran.
“I’ll say the best thing is to go to the original source and read the Quran. I distribute free copies of the Quran. It mentions love and compassion hundreds of times. It shows how we should treat everybody around us. It has teachings for our family members, our neighbors, the sick, the poor, the rich; it has a teaching for everyone.”
According to the Associated Press, eight people were allegedly killed by a 29-year-old Uzbekistan immigrant on a bike path just blocks away from the World Trade Center.
NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Nov. 2017 print issue.