11 October, 2016
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is working to gain acceptance in the United States.
Ahmadi Muslims are oppressed in Pakistan and other countries for not being "true" Muslims.
The Ahmadiyya movement has long struggled for the freedom to exercise its version of Islam.
Hanan Shahid is a member of the group.
"This is true brotherhood," Shahid told VOA. "This is true love for humanity."
The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. His followers believed he was a Messiah -- a savior for his people. This belief differs from that of most Muslims who believe Muhammad was the last prophet of God.
In the United States, Ahmadi Muslim-Americans are often forced to defend the religion in which they themselves have not been fully accepted.
Hanan Shahid told VOA it is interesting that Ahmadi Muslim-Americans are "fighting the battle for true Islam [for] the Muslims that are...denouncing us."
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association recently gathered in New York City to raise money for groups that help ease hunger. They hoped their efforts would also help Americans learn more about the Ahmadi community.
Zeshan Hamid is a leader of the association.
"We believe that giving the right message of Islam is very important, and the right message of Islam is humanity and helping mankind," he said. "We do get affected by the Islamophobia that's going around. We look to cure that by communicating with people."
Attiyah Malik went to the association's gathering with her husband and two children. She said, "Peace is a really big part of our culture, our faith and the way we live our lives."
She says her parents fled religious persecution in Pakistan. She likes the religious freedom in the United States.
"That's why so many people come here, because you can believe what you want, and as long as you're peaceful, you have a home," she says.
I'm John Russell.
VOA's Tina Trinh reported this story from New York. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
prophet – n. a member of some religions (such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) who delivers messages that are believed to have come from God
Islamophobia – n. a fear or distrust of Muslims
persecution – n. to treat (someone) cruelly or unfairly -- especially because of race or religious or political beliefs