In the eleven years since the World Trade Center attacks, Muslims have at times been the target of suspicion and anger. In response, some North Texas Muslims have made it their goal to change perceptions about their religion.
Today when Ismat Mahmood answers the call to prayer at a mosque in Allen, she’ll remember the nearly 3,000 victims who died in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She’ll also pray that her three small sons aren’t stereotyped as dangerous Muslims.
“I pray for my family- my parents, my children-that they will live a life that is free from any hatred,” Mahood explained.
Mahmood dresses in the traditional black hijab which covers her head and a long, loose fitting dress called an abaya. She studies the teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad. But unlike most traditional Muslims, Mahmood belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which also believes a Messiah came to reinforce Islam’s message of peace.
Suhail Kausar is the president of the Ahmadiyya Community in North Texas.
“There are very clear verses in the Qur’an which say if you kill one innocent person you have killed the entire humanity,” he said.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has members in 200 countries and has condemned the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Kausar believes ignorance fueled the extremists whose path of hatred and destruction left a stricken nation wondering why.
“I think the people have these perceptions mostly in the Muslim countries where the people are not so educated that America has more friendship with the Jews and they want to kill Muslims, they want to eliminate Islam from the face of this earth,” Kausar explained.
“So this is the kind of perception that is created in the minds of the young people who are studying in madrasahs, in schools. They are brainwashed,” he said.
Kausar’s Muslim community has tried to reach beyond the hatred through interfaith exchanges at churches and synagogues. Members volunteer at local homeless shelters and promote humanitarian efforts.
To honor the victims of 9-11, the Ahmadiyya Muslims in North Texas and nationwide are sponsoring their second annual “Muslims for Life” blood drive.
Ismat Mahmood says giving blood is an opportunity to promote the sanctity of life while spreading an Islamic message of unity.
“This is part of educating people that we are a very peaceful community and Islam only preaches peace,” Mahmood said.
The Muslim blood drive honoring 9-11 victims will be held Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in the Dallas City Hall lobby.