PALMERSTON NORTH – Following the Christchurch massacre which took place last month, a Muslim doctor from Palmerston North city has planned to explain the Islamic faith to his Kiwi friends and colleagues for them to understand what it means to be a Muslim, Stuff reported.
“It’s important to know more about each other, as those who didn’t know much about a certain religion or race often had the strongest views against them,” said Dr. Syed Ahmer, a psychiatrist at Palmerston North Hospital.
“The more we know about each other and what’s important to each other… the barriers go down, we’re much less biased against each other.”
Ahmer has created a list that covers six important aspects of being Muslim such as fasting, halal meat, and Islamic festivals.
“There was a range of opinions between Muslims, but there was near unanimous agreement on the points I mentioned,” the Muslim professional informed.
“I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of associating with similar people and not learn about one another. In writing the list, I hoped more non-Muslims would understand what it means to be Muslim. How would people know unless you tell them? You’re giving them the chance to learn something new,” Ahmer explained.
He recounted a time when one of his colleagues hosted him for dinner and made an effort to not only find halal meat but to also cook it separately.
“I didn’t ask him to do it, it was just him showing his care and it was very touching… for me, it mattered a lot that he went to that much effort,” the doctor appreciated.
Ahmer and his wife are Pakistani Muslims who has been living in New Zealand for eight years. Before that, they used to live in London.
“My wife and daughters felt more of a sense of belonging in New Zealand than they did in Britain. They had always been treated as equals here. Just feeling like everyone else is a huge feeling and I’m glad that here when genuinely have that feeling… For months I forget the color of my skin. It doesn’t seem to matter,” Ahmer said.
Ahmer’s list also included data about the Islamic dress code for both genders and value of modesty in Islamic Shari’ah.
This part included information about hijab which has received global attention recently, because the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, as well as a female police officer guarding a mosque and thousands of Kiwi women wore them to support Muslim women on the Friday after Christchurch massacre.
In New Zealand, Islam is a minority religious affiliation, as small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled starting from the early 1900s until the 1960s.
The south-pacific island country of New Zealand is home to 36,000 Muslims, according to the 2006 census.
According to Tahir Nawaz, the president of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, the number of New Zealand’s Muslims has reached almost 60,000 people.