The Guyana Islamic Trust has commenced its observance of Islam Awareness Week, with the hope of providing the public with knowledge about the faith and clearing misconceptions and stereotypes. The week of activities was launched on Friday and will run until March 6.
Visiting scholars, Dr Shabeel Ahmed and Sheik Mohammed Awal
In an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday, Dr Shabeel Ahmed and Sheik Mohammed Awal, who are both visiting scholars, said several meetings will be held across the country to make citizens aware of the teachings of Islam.
Shabeel said the faith is one of equality, noting that people should not judge Islam by the “actions of a few misguided Muslims.”
“The main important message that we would like to convey is: Islam is peace; by working together, it wants to establish peace, by working together it wants to establish justice for all, equality for all,” Shabeel pointed out.
Shabeel also stated that despite what many may believe, Islam came to “demolish” terrorism as opposed to fostering its promotion. He further clarified that his faith uplifts women and is not against anyone freely practicing their faith, as the Koran states that “there is no compulsion in faith.”
He further explained that his holy book also teaches humans to,“get to know each other, work with each other, not to despise each other and that the best amongst mankind are those who have the best manners.”
He also opined that categories such and race, skin colour and gender and all other labels are “superficial.”
“All of these labels are superficial… at the end of the day, the label that God gave to the followers of Islam is the label of Muslim, not Sunni, Shia, Wahabi… we want to ensure that it’s not just Muslims who better the society… humanity unites under the worship of one God,” opined Shabeel.
Sheik Awal stated that Muslims should be the ones to represent their causes and further reject the negative portrayals of their faith in the media.
“It’s about time that we bring Islam… it should come from the Muslims themselves, not on CNN, not on ABC, so we are here to present to the Guyanese public and foster living harmoniously and to show that Islam is not whatever is being portrayed on television or social media,” Awal posited.
The scholar praised the diversity and acceptance among different religious groups in Guyana, which he said would be highlighted in their meetings.
“This is so special because you have the Muslim, Christian and Hindus together side by side – it’s so beautiful. We’re trying to harness and foster that cohesion and explain what Islam is all about and what it is not,” Awal emphasised.
Islam Awareness Week is an annual international observance. An estimated 7.2 per cent of Guyana’s population identify as Muslim.