καλωσορίζω στην Κύπρος! (Welcome to Cyprus!)
It began with a dream…
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had a dream when resting in the home of Umm Milhan Bint Haram, and his supplication was for her to be one of the first ones to ride over the sea, continuing the Prophetic Mission.
Many years later, during the caliphate of Uthmaan RA, this dream came to fruition with Umm Milhan joining the expedition to the land of ‘Qubrys’ (where the name ‘Cyprus’ has its link). During that expedition, her horse shied violently, and she fell which eventually led to passing away. Today, a Mosque dedicated to her stands close to where she died in the city of Lanarca.
Over the centuries that followed, rule over the strategic Island of Cyprus changed hands many times with many different religious identities being created including Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam.
Foundations Laid in 2016
In 2016, iERA CEO Hamza Tzortzis was visiting Cyprus, and while there, he was invited by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of the Yakin Dogu University (Near East University, Lefkosa) to deliver a special workshop entitled: ‘Love for Humanity, What You Love for Yourself’. Following on from the success of this, iERA Outreach Specialists Murtaza Chaudhary and Nadeem Ashraf returned to Cyprus in July 2018 to help continue the Prophetic Mission in a friendly and compassionate manner to the local Cypriots and millions of tourists who visit the vibrant island of Cyprus every year.
Building on the relationships built in 2016 with the MSA at the Yakin Dogu University allowed the visit in July 2018 to be as productive as possible. The highlight of which, in addition to iERA’s Dawah Training Workshop at the University, was the interactive Jesus Exhibition that took place at the14th Century – Grand Selimiye Mosque. This is a famous landmark for tourists who dropped into the exhibition in high volumes throughout the day.
Alexa: “The Fate of Non-Muslims is Off-Putting”
During the exhibition, iERA Outreach Specialist had the opportunity to speak to Alexa, a young woman looking at the exhibition banners with great enthusiasm. She and her friend Chris approached the stall after eagerly consuming all the content on the Islamic perspective of Jesus Son of Mary. Alexa happened to hail from London and was pleasantly surprised to find that two fellow Londoners. Nadeem, using typical British humour, connected with them both and after explaining who iERA are, Alexa exclaimed: “Oh, Hamza Tzortzis?! I’ve heard his talks before, and he’s very good!”
Alexa professed that she firmly believed in God and up until two years ago, she was quite interested in Islam. However, worldly distractions cut her research short. Alexa was a first-year Psychology student — picking up on this — Nadeem emphasised the point that it was no coincidence they had met in this distant land. This could only be fate from God. Nadeem encouraged and also reassured Alexa that she could ask any question she wanted under the sun. Nadeem often uses this strategy when engaging in a Dawah conversation. Nadeem employed buzzwords and phrases such as: “Ask any question no matter how strange, or how weird you think it to be; you won’t be judged, and we won’t get angry. We are trained to embrace any question and will not be offended in any way.” This is to affirm Non-Muslims that they ought not to be afraid of asking questions; instead, they should feel free and be open to the possibilities of the dialogue. Alexa did indeed have a problem with regards to the fate of Non-Muslims after they passed away. She wanted to know if they were destined to burn in hellfire forever if they did not accept Islam.
Nadeem answered the question from various angles. In summary, the discussion revolves around God’s Mercy and entering into Paradise. Islamic theology is concerned with whether the message of Islam has been indeed appropriately delivered to a person, and if it has, what reason has that person rejected the message? Is it from justice that the truth comes to a person and becomes apparent, but a person then refuses it for selfish, and often, desirous reasons? After discussing this from a theological point of view, even if the Non-Muslim was morally upright all their life, but he or she failed to recognise and worship the Creator and also failed in understanding the clear proofs that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the final Messenger to Mankind, then according to the Qur’an, they will be judged and punished accordingly.
Nadeem subsequently steered the discussion to how Islam has detailed out what happens to human beings after death. Alexa was listening earnestly throughout. Nadeem gently advised her that her research ought to continue, and he encouraged her to focus her studies on the Islamic concept of God – to contemplate over questions such as ‘Is God all merciful?’, ‘How deeply does He love His creation?’, ‘What are some of His Names and Attributes?’, ‘Is the Quran a miraculous book?’, ‘Could Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lie?’, ‘What do academics say about him?’, ‘Can they prove he was a liar or deluded in any way?’ And so on.
Alexa was seemingly pleased, so much so that she requested a selfie! She was a British-Cypriot and comes to Cyprus regularly, and so her and Christ agreed to exchange contact details with Nadeem for further questions and to perhaps meet in London for coffee sometime to continue with a ‘part two’ of this exciting conversation. We pray that Allah (SWT) guides them and opens their hearts to Islam.
On a side note, Hamza Tzortzis replied in a post recently from a New Muslim asking him whether her “Parents Were Going To Hell?”
Massimo: “These Muslims don’t seem to be terrorists, they’re kind and loving.”
During the Jesus Exhibition, Outreach Specialist Murtaza Chaudhary met a charismatic fellow from Italy by the name of Massimo. He was studying different religions of the world and was very polite and engaging to speak to. Massimo spoke of a touching story, he once was purchasing a book and did not have enough money to pay for the bill. So the owner of the store agreed to meet later on — his home to settle the outstanding amount.
Once the bill was settled, it was supper time, and the Shopkeeper said: “As a Muslim when it’s time for food, and you must eat with us before you leave.” Massimo was gobsmacked, he had not experienced such hospitality and kindness before from a practical stranger. The kindness overcame Massimo, and this dawah experience was branded into his memory: “These Muslims don’t seem to be terrorists. They seem to be kind and loving.”
This episode in his life was a stepping stone for Massimo to become a student of comparative religion and so the books available on the stall were of particular interest to help him continue his learning.
When Massimo finished his story about the hospitable shopkeeper, Murtaza offered Massimo lunch at the Mosque, and again he was overjoyed. He left feeling loved, respected and this built further upon his positive experiences about Muslims and in Islam generally.
May Allah bless Massimo and may his research lead him to be guided to Allah, Ameen.
To have iERA visit your city with a range of activities, visit iera.org/request.