Imam Umar Farooq Mahmood, left, of the Masjid-E-Ibrahim Mosque on Airway Avenue delivers a message about peace and patriotism to his congregation Friday.
Story and Photo by AARON RICCA
KINGMAN – The attacks on a mosque by white supremacists in Christchurch, New Zealand Friday have left 49 people dead, more wounded, suspects in custody and shockwaves sent throughout the world.
Less than 24 hours after the bloodbath, accusations are being launched from all sides of the political arena and Kingman’s Muslim population isn’t immune to potential after-effects.
They are fully aware of conservative elements echoing hate-filled sentiments poisoning comment feeds of social media outlets worldwide.
Once again, peaceful practicing Muslims have to address the actions of fanatics.
“When you kill one person, you kill all of humanity,” said Shah Salim, one of many Kingman Muslims worshiping at the Masjid-E-Ibrahim Mosque on Airway Avenue. “Not only should we condemn the (white) terrorists who attacked the mosque, but the Muslim terrorists who kill other Muslims.”
Salim was one of about 30 men, women and children taking part in the Jummah Khutbah, or Friday Sermon – one of their most important prayer services and the Muslim equivalent to a Protestant or Catholic Sunday service.
Imam Umar Farooq Mahmood estimates there are about 25 Muslim families spanning at least three generations that have been serving the community for nearly 40 years.
These Muslims are our doctors, surgeons, businessmen, secretaries, teachers, students, scholars and teammates.
Mahmood wants Kingman to know that a loss to one is a loss to all – be the loss in America or across the pond.
“This nation is one body,” he said. “When one part aches, the whole body feels it. We should be feeling pain as a whole body.”
Many of Kingman’s Muslims are U.S. born and raised. Others are immigrants from countries such as Pakistan, India, Yemen and Egypt.
Mahmood had calm, but potent words for the radical conservatives (locally and worldwide) angrily typing hate-fueled messages on social media boards the moment news of the attacks showed up on their phones.
There is no ‘going back to where they came from.’
“If they ask us to leave the country, then they will also have to leave,” he said. “We are all immigrants.”
Kingman Muslims have dealt with the cultural backlash following religion-based violence before. The only difference between Jummah Khutbah and Sunday school is that ‘Jesus’ is replaced with ‘Allah’.
“What do you want from us,” Mahmood asked. “We are law abiding citizens who work, pay taxes and go about our daily lives.”
Father Phil Shaw of Trinity Episcopal Church and co-founder of the Kingman Unified Pastoral Alliance, a multi-faith organization that holds yearly conferences on topics that involve religion and local cultural issues, weighed in on behalf of a Rabbi, Priest and Mormon Stake President.
“There is heavy mix of sadness and outrage,” he said. “It’s getting much too common to see this amount of gross religious, secular and racial hatred.”
Barely a month ago, KUPA (which includes Mahmood as the Islamic representative) invited the public to a meeting/potluck to discuss the reasons and results of the incidents like the attack in New Zealand Friday.
“Islamophobia, homophobia, racism. Call it what you will,” Shaw said. “It’s all equally horrendous.”
KUPA has been working for at least two years to educate Kingman about the need for understanding different religions and the overall message they promote. The Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – are basically the same story, but with different actors playing the major roles. It only takes a few fanatics to twist the messages.
“The fundamentalists of all faiths tend to grab onto the most extreme scriptures,” Shaw said. “I can’t understand how they descend into hate so quickly.”
Although some of the mosque’s Friday noon attendees were tepid and skeptical of a journalist in their midst but were overall welcoming.
Mahmood said there have been no direct threats to the local Muslim population. He encourages the public to explore their curiosity and not to let propaganda eclipse a learning experience.
“The overall message of all religion is to be kind to people,” he said. “To be decent human beings.”
Shaw agreed with his KUPA counterpart.
“Most of seek to love our neighbor and to help each other,” he said.
To learn more about the local mosque and Muslim community, contact Imam Umar Farooq Mahmood at 928-757-8822.