Opinion

COLUMN: Keep an open mind with a purpose to learn

Ken Herar -
Ken Herar
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Ken Herar

Contributor

Assalamualaikum! (Peace may be upon you.)

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a local mosque in Abbotsford where they held a vigil on Jan. 31 for the six victims who were killed at a Quebec mosque.

The attack, which  is being called a “terrorist” attack by many, brought Canadians together from all faiths.

One thing that is clear is that if you keep an open mind with a purpose to learn, it is amazing what can be accomplished. That is exactly what I had in mind to do when this opportunity came up to support our local Muslim community and to see what can be done to break down walls and build further bridges.

Actually, this was my first opportunity to attend a mosque where many visitors were paying their respects to the victims,  bringing flowers and filling an entire table. Many dignitaries were in attendance: Mayor Henry Braun,  MLA Darryl Plecas, Coun. Kelly Chahal, Coun. Sandy Blue and Abby Police Chief Bob Rich.  All spoke to share their grief and ensure the public that we all stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and that we have much more in common than we have in difference.

Many leaders from various faiths were also offering their prayers to express our joint commonality. The Abbotsford Islamic Centre opened in 2009 on Salton Road and before that the community met at Cedar Park in Abbotsford.

Iman Islam Khokhar, who is a religious scholar at the centre, spoke at the vigil and shared some thoughts about how we can create further dialogue and prevent more attacks.

“It is nice to see the discussions between the non-Muslim and Muslim communities,” he said. “The bigger issue in all of this is Muslims have all Canadian values, and have men and women who serve in all levels of society to protect our nation. It is unfortunate to see that we have just received that recognition.

“As Muslims we are making further efforts to reach out to the greater community and would like to invite everyone to drop by at our open house Saturday, Feb. 11 from 10 to 3 p.m.

“People who have questions or concerns should come and meet with members. There are many misconceptions and one of them is that men and women are not equal in Islam. In reality, women have more rights than men in our culture. For example, it is a man’s responsibility to provide for his wife and children and mother. The women have the right to refuse to work and that is how the majority of Muslim families think.

“If Muslims were violent people they would have retaliated against those who were involved in the Quebec attack. The majority of Muslims are not violent and do not condone it.”

The 14th annual Cultural Diversity Awards are set for Friday, March 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Conference Centre in Abbotsford. It’s always a fun evening meeting some of our outstanding leaders in diversity.

This year’s master of ceremonies is again Fred Lee from CBC Radio and the guest speaker will be Tamara Taggart from CTV News.

For more information and tickets, contact  Patricia Driessen at cda@abbotsfordcommunityservices.com

You can reach Ken at Kenherar@gmail.com.

 

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