25,000 Muslims have gathered to celebrate religious freedoms and condemn extremism.
Members of the Ahmadiyya community met at an annual conference on Ontario where their spiritual leader spoke out against violence carried out in the name of Islam.
Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the caliph of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, condemned extremists and accused them of misinterpreting Islam.
He said: “These clerics or so called extremist mullahs — they have really misconstrued the true teachings of the Holy Qur’an and most of the Muslims are just ignorant of the true teachings."
The caliph said he didn’t know “where people get this message from” and suggested “the first thing [in tackling extremism] is to reform the clerics”, according to the Toronto Star.
He added: “Islam prohibits all forms of extremism and terrorism and so suicide bombings, beheadings, the killing of innocent people are all opposed to Islam’s teachings. This is the message we are propagating and spreading far and wide."
“The importance and significance of this message is obvious in today’s world given that violence and disorder has spread to so many parts of the world. Hence, the message of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ is not only something for Muslims to follow but for all people."
The gathering included hundreds of refugees from Syria, where Ahmadiyyas are routinely persecuted. Some said it was the first time they had been able to practise their religion in safety.
The Ahmadiyya sect was founded in 1889 and now has tens of millions of members in over 200 countries. Followers are oppressed in many Islamic countries because they are deemed to not be sufficiently obedient to traditional Islamic law.
Ahmadiyya Muslims believe the Messiah came in the 19th Century, categorically reject any form of terrorism and support the separation of mosque and state.
They also recognise the importance of teaching by figures from other religions, including Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha and Guru Nanak.Reuse content