On Saturday 27 October, the African Peace Symposium hosted by PAAMA UK, was held in the Tahir Hall, Baitul Futuh complex.
This was the second PAAMA Peace Symposium. The theme of the Peace Symposium was “Peace and Brotherhood – Keys to a Progressive Future”.
After the recitation of the Holy Quran, Ahmed Owusu-Konado, Chairman of the Event Organising Committee, welcomed all guests and gave a brief introduction of the dignitaries.
The welcome address was delivered by Tommy Kallon, President of PAAMA UK. In his address, Tommy Kallon emphasised on the importance of PAAMA and mentioned the aim and goal of holding such events. He stated that, since its establishment, PAAMA had organised various events around the world aimed at promoting the true message of Islam. The main aim of the symposium was to create an avenue to engage and dialogue on issues that enhanced values of peace, justice and universal brotherhood.
After the welcome address, a short 8-minute video presentation was played giving an introduction of the Amadiyya Muslim Jamaat and the engagements of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
The highlight of the Peace Symposium was indeed the special message from our beloved Imam, Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa which was read out by Rafiq Hayat Sahib, Amir Jamaat UK:
“Distinguished Guests, Assalamo Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatohu (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon you).
“I am very pleased to learn that the Pan-African Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK is holding its annual Peace Symposium for the second time. I pray that Allah the Almighty blesses this event in all respects, and I hope that all the participants recognise that establishing peace in the world is the single greatest challenge facing mankind today.
“In recent times we have seen tension between different groups and communities within nations rising and increasing division within society. This has led to conflicts and wars in some countries, whilst the far-right has resurfaced, and its dangerous resurgence shows no signs of abating. Similarly, at international level, hostilities are intensifying and threatening to boil over at any time. Several countries have acquired nuclear weapons that have the potential to wipe away nations at the push of a button.
“If, God forbid, such arsenal are ever put to use, the catastrophic effects will last for generations, and will result in children being born with mental and physical disabilities for many decades to come. Moreover, the collateral damage that is seen in war-torn countries is causing death and misery beyond comprehension. And it is a grave strain on humanity.
“The infrastructure in those nations, such as Yemen, where air-strikes and heavy bombardment has occurred, has been destroyed. Hence, where people are dying directly from bombing attacks and warfare, millions of others including babies and young children, women and elders are dying from famine, malnourishment and disease.
“In light of this perilous state of the world, it is the urgent need of the time that people and nations set aside their vested interests and focus with all their energies upon establishing peace through justice, compassion and mutual respect.
“A spirit of selflessness and genuine desire to alleviate the suffering of others must overcome the selfish greed that has taken root in so much of the world.
“Now it is the time to put aside our differences, and for all the people, whether religious or not, whether rich or poor, to come together and recognise the fact that we are all part of the same human race and united as such.
“The African continent and its people, whether they live in Africa or have moved abroad, have a great role to play in establishing peace in this world. Thus, never underestimate yourselves or the potential of the African people. God Almighty has given African people many qualities and capabilities, and so it is your duty to work hard and fulfil your vast potential. For this you must always act with justice and serve your nations with integrity and work towards their continued development and advancement.
“Recently, I sent a message to a similar event in Ghana where I said that I hoped the African people [would be] leaders in forming alliances of peace.
“I herby reiterate this message and I hope and pray that African people, wherever in the world they are, set a positive example for the rest of the world by establishing the highest standards of morality and justice. May the African people be the leaders in developing true peace in the world.
“At the end, I pray for the success of this Peace Symposium and extend my best wishes to all the participants.
“Wassalam. Yours sincerely, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.”
Then, directly after Huzoor’s message, a short video was shown on the services to Africa by PAAMA in collaboration with Humanity First and IAAAE.
After the video, brief remarks were given by guest speakers. The first speaker was Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon. Lord Ahmad congratulated the president of PAAMA for such an event and said that it was incumbent on all of us to strive towards attaining peace in the world.
The second speech was delivered by the Queen Mother of Ghana, HRH Naa Tsotsoo Soyoo I. In her speech she thanked PAAMA and the Ahmadiyya Community for inviting her. She mentioned that she had also taken on the mantle of bringing awareness of modern slavery. Slavery ended many years ago, yet there are people who are still subjected to such treatment.
HE Julius Peter Moto, High Commissioner of Uganda, briefly spoke about world peace and world problems. He said that more resources needed to be allocated in areas of spreading world peace and to solve world problems such as global warming, natural disasters, social economic deprivation, poverty, oppression of women and so on.
Dr Erinma Bell, Executive Director Chrysalis Family Centre, in her brief speech mentioned that in order to attain peace on our streets and neighborhoods and countries, it was important and vital to engage in community engagements, stepping outside of our comfort zones and engaging with others to formulate mutual understanding and brotherhood.
The fifth speaker was Dr Kaifala Marah, Former Minster Finance & Governor Bank of Sierra Leone. He mentioned that the Ahmadiyya mission in Sierra Leone received a prestigious presidential gold medal award in 2013 in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the nation in the fields of health, education, agriculture, peace and humanitarian activities. He mentioned that the first Ahmadiyya missionary arrived in Sierra Leone in 1921 and since then, the members had grown significantly with 1,000 mosques across the country and setting up many secondary and primary schools. Alluding to the previous video shown, he stated that through Humanity First, the mission had provided many facilities such as water and free medical camps.
The keynote address was delivered by Karim AA Khan QC, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN. In his speech Karim Khan Sahib mentioned the love the Khalifas have expressed for all people, especially Africa. He said that at a time when Muslims were being persecuted, the first place Muslims went for refuge was in Abyssinia. Thus, Africa played an important role in early Islam. That link between Islam and Africa in one of glory and profound respect.
The closing remarks were delivered by Amir Jamaat UK, Rafiq Hayat Sahib, in which he thanked PAAMA for organising the event and being able to bring about all kinds of people of different races and backgrounds together on one platform and share thoughts and ideas to promote peace throughout the world.
The Peace Symposium was concluded by silent prayer led by Amir Sahib.