Meet a Muslim campaign spreads peace and understanding


A Meet a Muslim campaign sharing a message of peace and understanding is again touring New Zealand.

The group is on a mission to educate people.

For the past week, representatives of New Zealand’s Muslim community have been travelling to the South Island’s main centres.

Wearing T-shirts that say: “I am a Muslim. Ask me anything”, the representatives are providing opportunities for people to learn about what, for many, is a religion they know little or nothing about.

It’s the group’s first roadshow since the COVID-19 outbreak and the March 2019 Christchurch mosque murders.

Meet a Muslim

The group has been setting up its stand in malls, offering cups of chai tea and making themselves available to all comers.

People have responded to the invitation, asking their questions – mundane and spiritual.

They’ve asked the group what football team they support, wanted to know about everyday life and enquired about the Muslim faith and religious concepts like jihad, says Wellington-based Imam Mustenser Qamar (pictured left).

He is a religious leader and member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Another frequently asked question is “Why is Islam so violent why do you kill the disbelievers?” says fellow team member and religious leader Imam Asif Munir (pictured right).

Positive experience

The group’s stop off in Timaru was a positive experience despite a person yelling “you f**king terrorist” at the group from a car, says Munir.

Several people in Timaru stopped to ask the group questions which was wonderful, he adds.

One man for example, who stopped and chatted to the Imams, said he did not really have any knowledge of the religion. They were able to enlighten him.

Education necessary

The tour is part of a wider campaign, fuelled partly by group members’ experiences.

Munir says a conversation with a new neighbour when he first moved to New Zealand was an important factor in his decision to make the tour.

“He [my neighbour] said, ‘Oh, you’re Muslims’, because my wife was wearing a hijab and I said ‘Yes’, and the third question he asked was ‘Oh, do you carry any guns?'”

It was clear to him that community education was needed – and that’s what he and others in his group provide.

Equipped with a whiteboard, educational brochures and scripture, they are ready to teach those who wish to learn.

Munir says it’s not about recruiting or converting people.

“Yes, if people are interested in Islam, we can talk about it behind closed doors at mosques but we are just here to educate.”

Christchurch marks the final South Island stop as the group prepares to head north.

“I think this education is good, it’s important for people to be open minded” a Christchurch resident says.


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News category: New Zealand.

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