Jari Qudrat, 29, (far right) at the Run for Burlington held on Sept. 25, 2022 in support of Joseph Brant Hospital. Photo provided by Ahmadiyya Muslin Youth Association Canada
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) is hoping to build on its“unprecedented” success after raising more than $550,000 so far this year for charitable causes, including food banks and hospitals around Canada.
AMYA’s national charity runs co-ordinator Jari Qudrat, 29, calls the work remarkable. “This year, we have really outdone ourselves because of the thousands of Muslim youth across the country who are engaged with these activities on a regular basis,” he said.
AMYA is an auxiliary organization within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, part of an Islamic sect that carries the values “of service and sacrifice, to inculcate commitment to one’s faith, one’s country, and to the world,” the association’s website reads.
From food drives to raising money for hospitals and food banks through charity runs to helping Canadian Blood Services, people experiencing homelessness, seniors centres and women’s shelters, Qudrat said “the stuff we have seen this year is unprecedented.”
Qudrat credits AMYA’s organization for its success. The association contains different volunteer roles and responsibilities, from an executive body to national, regional and local positions that oversee different types of campaigns, all relating to humanitarian causes.
“This way, we have a national infrastructure of Muslim youth who can do activities and work at a national scale to get things done,” Qudrat said.
“I live in Vaughan, and after making three calls, in a few days I can have a national initiative happening in every city across the country because of how strong the communication system and passion in the association is.”
With over 5,000 volunteers across Canada, AMYA’s ongoing “Mercy for Mankind” campaign is inspired by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, as he was sent as a mercy for mankind to relieve societal issues, Qudrat explained.
“We are driven by the Prophet and his passion to serve society and mankind, to bring about a moral, spiritual and structural family revolution to allow people to live happy and familial lives.”
AMYA believes spirituality and the ability to serve one another comes from taking care of society’s basic needs, “which is what inspired us to go after where Canadians need the most help,” Qudrat said.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association has raised more than $550,000 so far this year for charitable causes, including food banks and hospitals around Canada.
Due to rising inflation and poverty, Qudrat said food banks have a national shortage, so a chunk of AMYA’s fundraising from charity runs this past year has gone to local food banks.
Other charity runs have taken place in 14 cities around Canada — five in the Greater Toronto Area alone — and raised money for health care and blood banks, as they are “a basic asset of a human life,” Qudrat said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, charity runs took place virtually, with people participating from their own location with the help of an app to keep people connected, Qudrat said. Still, nothing beats holding an event in-person.
“You can ask people to donate, but there’s something about lacing up your shoes and being part of a physical charity run that is more memorable,” he said. “The whole idea is to come out and participate in something bigger than yourself.”
Another charity event is set to take place on Oct. 16 in Mississauga, organized by AMYA and raising funds for the Trillium Health Partners Foundation.
Leaders from all levels of government have complimented the youth group’s values and efforts in the community.
“I personally feel that the alignment of Ahmadiyya [Muslim] values with Canadian values — values of openness, respect, compassion and willingness to work hard and desire to be there for each other — these are the kinds of things we need so much more of in the community and in the world,” reads a testimonial from Justin Trudeau on AMYA’s website.
Qudrat said with all the misinformation in the media about Muslims, it’s good to see the recognition from government officials. “Any and every single person in Canadian society who is appreciative of our work, it means a lot to us.
“At the end of the day, if we are impacting the hearts of people, we are doing our job,” he said.
In the future, AMYA plans to double down on everything that is working this year but do it better, doubling donations and runs while addressing society’s needs in new and creative ways.
The association is already the largest Muslim youth group in Canada, Qudrat said, but aims to become the youth organization that raises the most money for charitable causes.
“We want our youth to be leading at the forefront. We believe we have the capability, infrastructure and passion, so it’s just a matter of time till we bring everything together and become the leading youth group in Canada.”
Nairah Ahmed / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer