The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA is spreading the word that, despite all the bad press — by way of terrorist attacks, honor killings, and the like — Muslims have a duty to be peaceful and loyal to the United States.
The group has launched a nationwide ad campaign called “Muslims for Loyalty” to counteract the negative influences from abroad — which not only serve to paint domestic Muslims in a bad light but also affect young Muslims susceptible to radicalization.
Waseem Sayed, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA spokesman, told The Daily Caller that the group feels as though it is their responsibility to educate Americans, both Muslim and non-Muslim, about the true face of their religion.
“Our hope is to emphasize to our fellow Americans,” Sayed said, “that it is the religious duty of a Muslim to be loyal to the country where he resides…Number two that there are negative influences being exerted — upon especially the Muslim youth in the United States — by people like al Awlaki on the Internet and third the press pays attention to violent acts that people commit in the name of Islam….If we just sit by, more and more these extremists will take hold the banner of Islam and say this is what Islam is.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim community comprises a smaller subset of Islam. While the Ahmadis adhere to the major tenets of the faith, they also believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet. Despite identifying themselves as Muslims, other sects of Islam do not and the Ahmadis have faced a great deal of persecution in Muslim lands, especially in Pakistan where they have been declared non-Muslims.
Nonetheless, the community wants Americans to know Islam is not the violent religion of hate that extremists have shown it to be.
Naseem Mahdi, national vice president and missionary in charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, told TheDC that the feedback to their campaign has been very positive.
“A lot of people are sending us emails saying this is good what you are doing, because unfortunately a majority of Americans do not trust Muslims,” Mahdi said. “[This is due to] people misrepresenting Islam by distorting the real Islam for political purposes in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Iran and in so many countries. I am 100 percent sure that this is a small minority of clerics who are doing it for the sake of politics, for the sake of controlling the masses, for greed. This is not Islam and we want to change this perception.”
Their message is appearing on buses, billboards and metro stations across the United States. Volunteers are also handing out hundreds of thousands of fliers encouraging people to learn more about Islam by calling 800-WHY ISLAM, visiting www.MuslimsForPeace.org, or emailing [email protected]rg.