Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK
In a recent example of interfaith dialogue, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community met with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury on 10th October 2017 where he spoke about the need for tolerance in society and for mutual respect to be displayed by all people and communities.
Just as these two great faith leaders met so the rest of the population is given a renewed opportunity to meet with and get to know people of other faiths during a dedicated Interfaith Week held every year.
Islam lays great emphasis on building bridges with other communities as Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad stated in an address in Canada on 22nd October 2016:
“It is absolutely true that we, Ahmadi Muslims, are peace-loving and seek to build bridges of love and hope between different religions and different communities. However, this is not because we have deviated from Islam or ‘modernised’ it in any shape or form. Rather, it is because we follow Islam’s authentic teachings.”
It appears to be such a simple action which can lead to tolerance and peace throughout society and Interfaith Week is one positive step in that direction.
The different regions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association UK, also known as Lajna, have taken the opportunity this week to arrange visits to places of worship of other faiths and are each holding an Interfaith Seminar to connect with women in their area. This has resulted in visits by Ahmadi women to Hindu Mandirs, Sikh Gurdwaras and Jewish Synagogues across the country aimed at learning about other faiths and making friends. It comes as a pleasant surprise to discover women from the Hindu community not only in big cities but in the green and less populated areas of Surrey and Hampshire!
It is not only during Interfaith Week, however, that Lajna branches hold interfaith events; throughout the year members can be found arranging visits to places of worship and holding seminars with women of all faiths and, indeed, none. The theme of these events may be different, discussing various world problems and women’s issues but there is one factor which always emerges; the women from all the various faiths find they have so much common ground and the differences between people are not as great as they sometimes appear.
“As God has made you one brotherhood, so be not divided.”
These words were spoken in the year 632AD by the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) during his Farewell Sermon. As we find ourselves passing through times of difference and division leading to great turmoil in the world these words are ones we should always bear in mind in our dealings with others.