Tarik Quadir is on a spiritual journey. As part of his quest, he made a video on what he calls, the peaceful practices of Islam.
After last September’s terrorist attacks in the United States, more people became aware of the Islam religion. Some of them connected Islam with violence and war. A year before the attacks occurred, Tarik, a Muslim living in the United States, made the video, which shows how Islam promotes peace, unity, and harmony, instead of violence.
This includes the Salat, the prayers to Allah, or God, Muslims perform five times each day. “At each time period for Salat, some of it is done individually, and the rest together with those who are present,” he said.
Although the video does not address political questions, Tarik hopes it shows the contrast between Islam as it is practiced by most people, and what he calls the hijacking of Islam by radicals. He says Islam does not promote the use of violence, and he never would have dreamed terrorists would use it as an excuse to kill innocent people.
“I mean, a religion cannot be blamed if someone says 'I’m a Muslim' and does something crazy which may goes against the religion. The vast majority cannot be hijacked by this loud mouth of a fringe group who have hurt on September 11 to the disgust and horror of all of us,” he said.
Tarik said one goal of his video is to separate fact from fiction about Islam. For example, the word “jihad,” which he says many Westerners translate as “holy war,” has the much wider meaning of the struggle for God and is used in many diverse ways.
“The word jihad doesn’t directly mean war. What it really means is effort, struggle, struggle against falsehood, against evil within and without. But very often it’s used as war, any war that anybody does for their personal, political interest,” he said.
Tarik made his documentary after a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. There, he says, his feelings of the presence of Allah were reawakened.
“That was one of the turning points because until then, as an adult, I did not seriously inquire into Islam so I felt I had to reconnect to this huge ocean of spirituality,” he said.
Tarik left his job as a financial analyst, did extensive research, and bought a small video camera. Using his own money, he journeyed for more than a year to six countries, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Britain, the United States, and his native land, Bangladesh.
His one and a half-hour video called Tawhid, The One in the Many documents Muslims taking part in religious, artistic, and cultural activities that reflect their faith.
“The visual feast of this timeless art is usually propagated from the mosques, whose surfaces echo the word of God day and night," he said. "I learned that in the different Islamic countries, even though the cultures are quite different, even in their differences, there is this unity of the faith. There is that basic understanding.”
Currently, Tarik’s video is being shown in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area where he lives. Although it is often shown to non-Muslims, he originally produced it to teach Muslims more about their faith.
“What I hear from Muslims is that it awakened them to certain aspects of the faith that they had kind of not focused on or didn’t think about it because they’re born a Muslim," he said. "But then there are other people—non-Muslims—who tell me, ‘Wow, now I get this religion. I had no idea it was like this because all we hear from the news media is all about war, that Islam is a violent religion.' They had no opportunity to see the beauty of it.”
Recently, he showed his video to a group of community college students and spoke with them about some of the teachings in the Quran, the holy book of Islam considered the word of God.
“I think if they follow the Quran and do what the Quran says, they’re good Muslims, but if they do what bin Laden did and hurt innocent people, it’s not solving anything really and it hurts more people in the end,” was the reaction of one student after seeing the video. “Only God knows, but I did my best," Tarik said. "So in that sense, I think I was successful... hearing from people who have watched it seems like it has done some good.”