To counter perceived misinterpretations of Islam, members of a local mosque sent out thousands of information pamphlets about their religion and its teachings last month to Southeast Queens residents.
Imanul Hak Kauser, the imam of the Bait-ul Zaffar Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque at 86-71 Palo Alto Avenue in Holliswood, said the public relations initiative was his idea. Timed to coincide with an Islamic religious holiday, the campaign targeted more than 5,300 homes in Hollis, Jamaica, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.
“There are a lot of people with the wrong impression about Islam,” Kauser said. “We wanted to inform them that what you see in the media is often a few fanatical Muslims, less than one percent worldwide, who have tried to change the meaning of our teachings. For us, jihad means holy struggle not holy war, and our main struggles are in bettering ourselves and in bringing peace to the world.”
The glossy, five-fold, color pamphlet sent out by Kauser and the mosque is titled, “Jihad or Terrorism? The Islamic Perspective” and tackles several controversial subjects, including religious wars and terrorism.
It states that Islam prohibits the use of force or coercion to spread its message and that terrorism and Islam are “diametrically opposed.” It also adds, “jihad is not intended to shed blood, encourage disloyalty toward established governments or disrupt peace in any manner.”…
According to classic Islamic law, jihad requires the Muslim community to make “war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians . . . until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax” (Umdat al-Salik, o9.8). “Not intended to shed blood”? Only the most gullible would fall for that.
Kauser, a Pakistani native, said that misconceptions are not isolated to just one group of people. “Some Muslims misunderstand the Western countries, too,” he said. “After 9-11, many there expected the public to attack us, but my experience was only one of understanding and warmth. They just couldn’t understand this.”
Kauser added that the tragic events of 9-11 have made public outreach from the Muslim community of even greater importance. “To achieve peace, we need more communication, and I think people are more interested in Islam and knowing about us.”
Despite the hundreds of rejections, Kauser remained optimistic about the mailing campaign’s long-term effect.
“If we have opened one mind out of the 5,000, it will have been worth