UK: Muslims Amass for Landmark Islamic Convention in English Countryside
Over 30,000 Muslims are expected to attend a landmark Islamic convention to be held 12-14 August in the British countryside. They will pay tribute to Britain for the freedom it gives its citizens and see delegates pledge loyalty to their nation as a fundamental part of their faith.
The Worldwide Head â€“ or Caliph â€“ of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, will lead the three-day convention of more than 30,000 people with a rallying call to members to serve the country they live in and to work for peace at every level of society.
And, all delegates will take a pledge -as they have done every year- reaffirming their loyalty to their country of residence. This yearâ€™s convention â€“ called Jalsa Salana â€“ is special as it marks the 50th anniversary of the spiritual convention.
A tented village, rows upon rows of stalls, fluttering flags, tens of thousands of people and an organised programme of events provide all the hallmarks of a country festival but its focus on faith and fraternity and the sheer scale of the convention sets this apart from all other gatherings.
The Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is an extraordinary event and it marks over100 years of the community in Britain and tells the story of a community in exile- persecuted in lands where extremists hold sway.
The convention comes at a time when there is growing unrest in the Muslim world and the fear of extremism is escalating. His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
â€œWe continue to witness grave injustices being committed against innocent people, be they Muslims, Christians, Jews or people any faith or of no faith. This is most reprehensible and there is no justification for such atrocities. All people who wish to promote peace must stand united against such bloodshed.
â€œFurthermore the world powers must use their influence to engender justice for all. Without justice there can never be peace and unless serious thought and selfless action is taken by governments then the world is slipping rapidly towards an increasing state of conflict. We must turn to God and make every effort to work for unity and to help all those who are suffering. That is the true path to peaceâ€
Rafiq Hayat, President Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK said:
â€œThe 30,000 plus people from over 90 countries gathering at the convention come in the spirit of fraternity â€“ and to give thanks for the security and freedom they have found in Britain.
â€œMany have fled persecution in other countries and together, they will re-affirm their pledge to follow the true teachings of Islam â€“ that are teachings of peace – and to counter all forms of extremism and intolerance.
â€œWe have much to be grateful for in Britain which has allowed our community to prosper and contribute to British life for more than 100 years. We count ourselves proud to call ourselves British Ahmadi Muslims.â€
The Ahmadiyya Muslims have special reason to be grateful â€“ their enlightened and tolerant thinking has made them bitter enemies of firebrand clerics hell bent on using religion to incite hatred and violence.
But despite severe persecution abroad, Ahmadiyya Muslims are flourishing in Britain and many other parts of the world, so the annual convention will be a chance for them to give thanks for the freedom to worship they have here in the UK.
One of the many exhibitions onsite will highlight the persecution the community faces in countries where extremist Muslim clergy preach hatred, particularly Pakistan where hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims have been murdered.
Rafiq Hayat said:
â€œDespite persecution, the abiding message of our community is Love for All, Hatred for None. And despite the efforts of extremists, our message of peace has prevailed and we continue to counter hatred, terror and prejudice with strength of faith and purpose. When we say Islam means peace-we practice it by example in our everyday lives and through our contribution to the well-being of the nation.
â€œAs the world rallies against the onslaught of extremists, the example of our community demonstrates that peace will always find a way to triumph over adversity.â€
The 50th Jalsa Salana (annual convention) takes place 12-14 August at East Worldham, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3AU