Kashif Mahmood Virk
In most countries of Europe, questions related to Islam and Muslims are frequently being discussed in public debates. It often relates to themes such as religious extremism, the veil or mosques, as well as other visible expressions of Islam. It is clear that the anti-Islamic opinion generally is on the increase in most European countries.
This is certainly the case in Sweden, a country in Northern Europe with a small population of about 10 million people. The discussions regarding Islam often focus on the supposed lack of integration on the part of the Muslim community, which, according to a moderate estimate, totals about 5 percent of the population. Terms such as Sharia law, Jihad and Burqa/Niqab are frequently being used in political discourse to gain popular opinion. Although this has been the case for many years, few Muslim leaders in Sweden have made any considerable effort to respond to these allegations and present the true teachings of Islam.
By the grace of Allah, Jamaat Ahmadiyya Sweden has made considerable efforts to defend and propagate the true Islam in Sweden.
One such effort is the programme “Stoppa Krisen” (Stop the Crisis), a TV-show where current topics regarding religion and Islam are being discussed. Themes range from religious extremism, Islamophobia and the role of religious communities in society. Many external guests, such as politicians, police officers, journalists and intellectuals, have taken part in the programme. It has been aired on local TV-channels in the major cities of Sweden and shared widely online. It is currently also being aired on MTA International. (https://stoppakrisen.nu/tv-program/)
Another recent effort by Jamaat Sweden is the podcast “Islams röst” (Voice of Islam), in which current topics about religion are discussed. It is being shared on many platforms and is thus accessible to many people. (http://ahmadiyya.se/podcast/)
In the cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, the Jamaat arranges information-tents in the city-centre where the public has the opportunity to ask questions related to Islam. This has resulted in many people now being informed about the efforts of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Jamaat and has increased their understanding of religion and counter religious extremism.
In all major cities of Sweden, seminars and exhibitions are regularly being arranged by Jamaat Sweden on different topics and different occasions. For example, the annual Book Fair in Sweden is an event where the Jamaat regularly has its exhibition. Recently, a seminar with the topic “The Role of Religion in Future Sweden” was held in Nasir mosque in Gothenburg, where representatives from 10 political parties attended.
In Stockholm, the Jamat is currently arranging an exhibition at Järvaveckan, a social and political gathering, with the campaigns “Stop the Crisis” and “Ask a Muslim”.
By the grace of Allah, the efforts of the Jamaat are being widely recognised in Swedish media. During the last couple of years, more than 70 articles have been written in major Swedish newspapers and websites. We have also had the opportunity to represent Islam in several interviews and TV/radio-discussions. Recently, a news report about people wanting to leave Islam was published wherein two Sunni imams claimed that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death according to Islamic law. On this, we wrote a reply that there is no such teaching in Islam, rather it teaches absolute freedom of religion. This article was very well received, Alhamdolillah.
Thus, as Islam is constantly being highlighted in a negative sense and context, all over Europe, we Ahmadi Muslims are the ones who should be at the forefront in defending and propagating the true teachings of Islam. The current focus and increasing interest in Islam all over the “Western” world presents us with a unique opportunity to convey the true teachings of Islam. We should thus avail this opportunity.
We request readers of Al Hakam to remember Jamaat Sweden in their prayers. May Allah Almighty enable us to serve Islam in the best possible manner. Amin.