Defeating extremism with love

Rafah Mahmood, Aqeel Choudhry and Raza Mohammad at the Baitul Huda Mosque, Marsden Park. Picture: Isabella Lettini
Rafah Mahmood, Aqeel Choudhry and Raza Mohammad at the Baitul Huda Mosque, Marsden Park. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Local Muslims who love Australia are calling for peace and understanding during a time of increased fear and division.

Raza Mohammad, 19, was born and raised in Blacktown and is currently studying business at Western Sydney University.

Through his youth group at the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Marsden Park, he has helped support charities and causes like Red Cross and Clean Up Australia Day.

“It affects me when I hear what people say about Muslims,” Mr Mohammad said.

“We’ve been taught since we were kids, ‘love for all, hatred for none’. Our job is to spread love; it is other Muslims who are spreading hate.”

Mr Mohammad said their core belief means there has never been a violent act committed by an Ahmadiyya believer.

He believes any radicalisation in Australia is the result of vulnerable young men being exploited by false teachers.

“It is our duty as Muslims to teach the truth to all,” he said.

Fellow Blacktown student Rafah Mahmood, 21, agrees.

His family escaped persecution in Pakistan for the safety of Australia when he was a child.

He loves this country but also loves his Muslim community and does not think the two are in conflict.

“There are a lot of things to love; the unity, brotherhood, friendship, it’s a big community that is very loving,” Mr Mahmood said.

“There will always be people who are negative but we’re taught to love humans, love humanity and work for the benefit of humanity.”

He believes it is the duty of peaceful Muslims to educate non-believers and other Muslims who may be at risk of radicalisation.

“We need people to raise their voice, speak out to political leaders and change hate to love.

“Love can change hate but hate can not change hate.”

Mr Mahmood seeks to educate people through his writing, a skill fostered by local Ahmadiyya youth leader Aqeel Choudhry.

Mr Choudhry, 31, is an electrical engineer but in his free time he runs the website untoldnews.com.au. The project is one of the ways he encourages Muslim youth to share their views.

“It takes away the anger and frustration of not being able to do anything,” Mr Choudhry said.

“They need to express their views using the proper channels and not take the law into their own hands.”

Mr Choudhry said the Ahmadiyya community is committed to looking after young people and making sure they don’t fall away, or be led astray by radical hate preachers.

“The worst sin is taking a life God has created,” Mr Choudhry said.

“Humanity is above all religions.”