SHAFAQNA – The voice of Imam Nasir Mahmood Butt cut through the silence at the Al-Hadi Mosque.
Slowly, the worshippers in the packed building joined their voices with their imam.
Together, as their voices swelled, they prayed for those in Brussels.
One of the voices belonged to Nudrat Mansoor.
Humanity comes before religion. Humanity comes before all else,” said Mansoor. “You’re not a good person following a faith if you’re not loyal to other humans.”
“So we prayed, we had tears in our eyes, we cared for those people who lost family members.”
Mansoor — president of the mosque’s women’s association — says the vigil was organized to honor those lost in the bombing in Belgium and to condemn the attack.
“Peace was the main concern and today, we wanted our youth to know that whatever happens you can’t be sitting quietly and not doing anything about it,” she said.
The back-to-back bombings left 31 people dead and hundreds injured.
Mansoor said events like this provoke fear and distrust against Muslims. She feels it is important for those in the mosque, especially young members, to engage with the community about their religion when events like this happen.
Mohyuddin Mirza said as a Muslim community in Edmonton, they are always concerned about what goes on globally in the name of Islam.
“That is not the Islam that we preach and that we practice,” said Mirza, an outreach director with the mosque.
“We strongly want to condemn this action and let Edmontonians and people around the world know that what they’re doing is not Islamic. Such an act should be condemned at every level.”
Mirza said there has been a backlash every time an attack happens. People have called the mosque leaving negative messages on their machines. Those at the mosque confront the callers with friendliness and attempt to talk to them about Islam, he said.
He is left depressed when people use the faith he holds so dear to justify violence, but he knows he has to take a stand.
“After some time, rationality comes in and [overtakes] the depression and I have to fight back with my knowledge.”
Meanwhile, Mansoor feels the only way to overcome terrorists and attacks like the one in Brussels is by banding together, regardless of race, religion or any other factor.
“When we are strong – when we are together, then nobody can make that hole between us.”