The Bellevue Arts Museum welcomed the Seattle community on Sunday afternoon to enjoy cake, coffee, and conversation about Islam.
Hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Seattle, leaders of the organization encouraged Seattleites to engage in discussion about Islam from the source that knows best: a Muslim. Starting first with a presentation, attendees were educated on the organization's roots, and later the 11 principles of Islam. Following the presentation, the room was broken into three different groups, each discussion led by a member of the Ahmadiyya community. These Members would answer questions that ranged from different levels of understanding, such as the purpose of the hijab to the equality between men and women.
This event, otherwise advertised as ‘Coffee, Cake, & Islam,’ wasn't a one time deal, but instead a conversation among a series of many. These discussion groups are held throughout the Seattle area in a variety of destinations every month, providing multiple opportunities for the public to gather, to talk, and to understand.
“At the Bellevue Art Museum we are holding it once a month.” said Spokesperson and Director of Public Affairs Alam Ali. “But we have [ the event] every week, in the U District, Kent, up in Snohomish…it’s a grass roots movement to come meet a Muslim and just have coffee and cake and understand who we are.”
Ali explained that program started after President Barack Obama’s speech on the San Bernardino shooting, where he called on the Muslim communities to stand out against the ideology of hatred and what extremists were doing in the name of Islam.
“We took that call and what we did was we created this program that fundamentally asks questions of the ideology of the extremists.” said Ali. “There are 11 points that the extremists use to try and recruit and justify their message. We take every one of them and show why they are 100 percent wrong.”
The program is driven not by the politics that fuels the misunderstanding of Islam, but the rather the impact the negative message about Islam has havocked on Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
“The importance is that we're focused around people and our communities. We're not focused on the politics.” said Ali. “...There’s this division, there's this fear, but in the the Muslim and non Muslim communities. Neighbors who don’t understand who the other neighbors are. That’s about people and how we live, so we leave the politics aside, and we're trying to figure out how to affect change in our global communities.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a national organization with other 70 chapters throughout the country. Originally founded in 1889, this is one of the oldest Muslim communities in the U.S. that has denounced extremism for over 100 years. As extremist interpretations of Islam have distorted the religion, this has prompted the need from communities such as the Ahmadiyya to define True Islam, a movement that works to discredit and expose the false ideology of ISIS. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is one of the 73 sects of Islam, and believes that the promised Messiah has risen. The revival of the Messiah is believed to unite humanity in Latter Days.
For more information about True Islam and the eleven principles, visit truislam.com. Further details about the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community is also available at alislam.org, and dates for upcoming 'Coffee, Cake, &Islam' discussions are available on the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Community Seattle, WA Chapter Facebook page.