Canada: “Imam Hussein (SA)” Exhibition in Ottawa
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Mahdy Generation, an Ottawa-based Islamic youth group, worked for three months to create displays to honor Imam Hussein [AS], the grandson of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH].
Shia Muslims remember Imam Hussein [AS] as a brave leader who remained steadfast in the face of oppression, who fought an army with 72 soldiers and eventually was killed as a martyr.
The purpose of the weekend’s exhibition about Imam Hussein’s [AS] life and martyrdom was to teach Canadians of other faiths a little more about Islam and to explain how they differ from the Muslims we see on TV.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to who Imam Hussein [AS] was and trying to take away from the way the media portrays Muslims,” said Rukiah Jheran, 24, one of the coordinators of the event.
In order to illustrate Imam Hussein’s [AS] martyrdom, members of the youth group, ranging in age from 10 to 22, each memorized a part of the story and presented it to people walking through the dimly lit room.
Jheran, who also teaches young children at the Ajyal Al Mahdy Islamic School every Sunday, said the students are getting as much from the exercise as the visitors.
“One of our main things is to teach the children what it means to be a Muslim so they don’t grow up believing what they see on TV.”
She said she teaches the children to incorporate what they learn at Islamic school about respect, the importance of family, and kindness with what they learn at public school, “in order to live a good life in Canada.”
Teibah, a 16-year-old student, standing next to the display illustrating the importance of prayer, said even though she knows she should pray five times daily, sometimes it’s hard to find the time. “If my friend is over or I’m watching a show, sometimes I forget … but, I’m learning and if Imam Hussein [AS] could pray during battle, then I can pray.”
Growing up in Ottawa, Jheran went to public elementary and high schools where, because of the diversity here, she says she always felt comfortable and at home.
The first time Jheran, who wears a hijab, realized other people saw her differently, was as an adult when someone asked her if her father, who is from Iraq, was raised to kill people.
“I was so hurt and I really took it to heart. But later, I decided that instead of reacting in tears you just have educate the person because you might teach them something that they’ll take with them.”
“If anything, I would rather that somebody come and ask me ‘Why do you wear that’ instead of just walking by and assuming they know.”
She said, along with respect for others and daily prayers, the importance of learning and educating is an integral part of her religion.
“One of Imam Hussein’s [AS] sons was a scholar and he said we should take all of the knowledge that we can in this world and we will never be done learning.”
When asked if she considers herself a “moderate Muslim” in contrast with the “extremists” who carry out suicide attacks in crowded squares, she said:
“I wouldn’t say that we’re moderate Muslims. I would say that we are just Muslims.
“That man on TV — the one blowing himself up — he is not an extremist Muslim. He is not a Muslim at all.”
The exhibit attracted about 150 people on Friday and about the same number on Saturday.
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