Muslim Americans of northern Illinois and Wisconsin walked the streets of Zion Saturday afternoon for a 3-mile walk for peace which began outside the Zion Park District Leisure Center.
Hosted by the MKA (Majlis Khudam-ul-Ahmadiyya) USA, the youth auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, the Walk for Humanity is an annual charity fundraiser that benefits international, national and local organizations and aims to spread awareness of Muslims’ positive presence in the community.
This year’s fundraising walk has so far raised $76,432 that will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County, the international Humanity First USA disaster relief organization and the WhyHunger organization. That figure was raised with the help of a simultaneous walk in New York’s Manhattan area and another that took place on Sunday in the Washington D.C. Area.
“Our main message is that this is the way to approach and enlighten amidst many different negative campaigns across the country, specifically against Islam,” said Ahmed Khan, regional spokesman for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association USA. “This is to reach out to the community and help out.”
According to the MKA (Majlis Khudam-ul-Ahmadiyya) USA, the vilification of their faith and community by some has brought about the need to show their neighbors the true spirit of their Muslim community and that they want all Americans to live here peacefully and without fear.
“We want the average American to know what the moderate Muslim looks like,” said local spokesman for the MKA (Majlis Khudam-ul-Ahmadiyya) USA, Junayd Latif.
In light of the violence in response to the film depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Latif said this walk was especially important this year because it’s an opportunity to show that peaceful Muslims are against that violence.
“We want people to see that the same faith inspires people to do good; that’s the proper interpretation of the Quran,” Latif said.
One walker who brought his family from a neighboring mosque in Milwaukee, Wis., said he made the trip to help out the three organizations.
“It’s [a] good investment,” said Mohamed Vouali, who is originally from north Africa.
“Helping each other regardless of our faith is good for all of us. Whatever affects one— hunger, poverty, sickness— It affects us all directly and indirectly,”
This is the fifth year for the walk but the first time the organization has had simultaneous walks across the nation. Another attempt from the organization to reach out to the communities around them and become more societal.
“ We’ve discovered that because [Muslims] have not been as social as American people, people may see us as the enemy because they don’t know about us,” Latif said. “We want to then be more in the communities and let our neighbors know who we are. We go to work, come home and take care of our family type of people.”
- BY YADIRA SANCHEZ OLSON – firstname.lastname@example.org —