By: Imam Ali Islamic Youth (IAIY)
Following the Paris terror attacks in November 2015 in which 130 lives were lost, our committed youth in Imam Ali Islamic Youth (IAIY) took it upon themselves to say it out loud and clear that those attacks are not emanated from Islam. So they started an initiative called “Not in My Name” and as a first step a group of them went to Dundas square in a busy evening to spread the real message of Islam. Here is the report of one of the active participants of this group, Elnaz Haghjoo, from the downtown Toronto event:
“Handing out candy canes in the epicenter of such a diverse place like Toronto was a unique experience to say the very least. When dealing with any sort of heterogeneous crowd, a certain amount of intrepidity is needed but this specific occasion took place after the terrorist attacks in Paris. This meant a fog of uncertainty, mistrust, and apprehensiveness had settled over the western world, concentrating on its considerable Muslim population. It is absolutely essential for Muslims worldwide to distance themselves as much as possible from the barbaric doings of ISIS—which is exactly what the Imam Ali Youth group decided to do. When we handed out the candy canes, many people simply didn’t have time to take one and walked away hurriedly; offering a grimace of a smile at varying levels of politeness. Others took one hesitantly and went on their way, faltering after a few steps to read the message attached to the candy canes: “Whoever kills one innocent life, it is as if he has killed all of humanity” [Surat Al-Mai’idah 5:32]. The most rewarding reactions were when someone doubled back to express their acknowledgment of our message, or better yet, offered a simple hug. “It’s really great what you’re doing,” quipped a woman with bright purple hair, after embracing me. There were few unpleasant reactions too, like when one of our members was quickly handed a paper booklet featuring the confederate flag. But the overwhelming majority of people seemed supportive of our message, some even taking time to stop for a chat.”
Although it was all a small-scale event, we could feel that we are making a difference in the views of some people, and maybe for that reason we are putting a smile on the face of our beloved prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).