SHAFAQNA- Facing increasing misconceptions about Islam, Ottawa Muslim students and volunteers have dared freezing cold to hand over roses to passersby, emphasizing their faith’s teachings of love and mutual understanding.
“We know what our faith stands for and want to make it known to others as well,” Zoharana, a volunteer who handed out roses and who didn’t give her last name, told Ottawa Sun.
Zoharana, a student of U of Ottawa, was among the volunteers who handed out 1,000 roses on Rideau St. Saturday.
Reminding passersby with their love for the city, the students sent a clear message against identifying their faith with the actions of a small minority.
“We love this country, we love the people and we are a part of the community,” said Syed Zaidi, a volunteer with the groups made up of the University of Ottawa’s Muslim Student Association and other Muslim associations.
“More than a billion Muslims are getting a bad name because of the most recent attacks.”
Zaidi added that the handing out roses sends an important message to their Ottawa neighbors to convey the true message of Islam.
“We wanted to come here and give our fellow Canadian brothers and sisters the message that we are the people trying to reflect to true teaching of Islam,” he said.
“We love every single human being, we have no discrimination at all, it doesn’t matter your faith or creed.”
Abul Qasim, who headed up the initiative, said he doesn’t feel any extra tension from the community.
Emma McFarland, a Carleton University student, said she appreciated getting the rose and said she still feels comfortable after the attacks.
Coming in the month of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), each rose had a paper with a quote from the Prophet to bless and encourage anyone who was comfortable taking the free gift.
“Prophet Jesus, we love him very much as well, and his birthday just passed in December,” said Zaidi of embracing Christmas and Canadian traditions.
The initiative is not the first for the Muslim students in Ottawa.
Last year, the group handed out flowers but they believed now was as good a time as any to remind the community what they stand for.
“Lately it hasn’t been going that well for me and it just put a smile on my face,” said passerby Lise Leroux, who held the rose tightly in her hand.