Washington — A prominent American Muslim civic group is launching a campaign to educate the public in the United States and Canada about the life of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the Islam, in response to the controversy caused by insulting cartoons published in several European countries.

“We wanted to turn this controversy of misunderstanding and confrontation into an opportunity of education and learning about Prophet Muhammad,” the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Nihad Awad said in Washington February 14.

CAIR and its independent sister organization in Canada — CAIR-CAN — are distributing free-of-charge copies of a book chronicling the life of Muhammad and a documentary film, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, about the prophet’s life and how his teachings affect people’s lives today, Awad said.

The CAIR materials are intended to help Muslim communities hold public discussions, open mosque events, panel discussions, essay contests and interfaith gatherings to increase understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. The CAIR Web site carries information on ordering the book and documentary and planning outreach activities.

“We decided to declare the year 2006 the year of learning about Prophet Muhammad and his life,” Awad said. “Hopefully through this effort we will reduce the possibility of future conflict and confrontation over cartoons that might be seen as innocuous to some people but can be seen as deeply offensive to 1.5 billion Muslims over the world,” Awad said. He said the campaign is not intended to convert, evangelize or proselytize, but rather to spread understanding and information about Islam.


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