Ibrahim Bonsu, President Leicester Jamaat, UK
On 27 February 2021, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Leicester held their annual peace conference virtually. The theme for this year’s conference was “Achieving Inner Peace in the Face of a Global Pandemic” – a theme which resonates the hope of light in a period of insurmountable odds. 600 plus views were achieved on YouTube and the number continues to rise.
Guests in attendance included the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Cllr Annette Byrne, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Leicester, Michael Kapur Esq OBE and Vice Chancellor of De Montfort University Leicester, Professor Katie Normington. Other dignitaries included ward councillors and representatives of faith and civic groups. The keynote speaker was Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib, Director of Outreach, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, UK.
The host of the event was Saleem Ahmed Sahib, member of Qaza board UK and a former president of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Leicester. The event commenced with a recitation of the Holy Quran followed by English translation.
The welcome address was delivered by Ibrahim Bonsu Sahib, president Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Leicester. He highlighted some of the charitable activities of the Leicester Jamaat since the first lockdown in 2020. He also informed the guests not only to participate in the virtual programme but to take time out to visit the local mosque, Bait-ul-Ikram when the pandemic is over.
An introductory video of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya and the institution of Khilafat was relayed to the audience after the welcome address and this ushered us to the address of the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Annette Byrne.
In her address, the Right Worshipful Lord Mayor echoed how faith can help strengthen us during difficult times. She also made mention of the many lives that had been lost and the businesses which had collapsed over this difficult period in human history. However, she said that faith communities had not been idle but made significant contributions in society, especially towards the vulnerable with their physical and spiritual needs. As a result, many had found some level of comfort contributing to their inner peace.
The next guest to address the conference was Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Michael Kapur Esq OBE. Lord Lieutenant took the opportunity to extend his gratitude to all the keyworkers including faith volunteers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep the community going despite the difficult circumstances.
Next, a virtual video tour of the local Bait-ul-Ikram mosque was shown to the guests. This video highlighted the various parts of the mosque and their functions. It also showcased the social distancing and risk assessment measures which are in place to make the mosque secured for prayers during the current pandemic.
The audience then had the opportunity to listen to addresses of the representatives of the Sikh and Christian communities in the persons of Harinder Singh and Rev Debra Mina Chidakwa-Akue (Christian Methodist Minister) respectively.
Harinder touched on the responsibility of all faith communities to care for the needy in society and to have mutual love and respect for each other if we want to achieve inner peace.
Rev Debra who was born in Zimbabwe but migrated to the UK as a young girl also reminded the audience that the way to achieve inner satisfaction is not about our qualifications or material things but what we give back to society.
In his keynote address, Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib spoke on the theme of the conference drawing references from the Islamic concept of achieving peace.
He highlighted that despite the current predicament, Islam has the unique antidote to relieve the burden which has come about as a result of the pandemic. To do so he called the attention of the audience towards their responsibility to achieve peace with their Creator and their neighbours. As a matter of fact, he went on to say that materialism not only offers phantom solution but contributes to the suffering of humanity. However, he said that true happiness lies in the recognition of God according to the Promised Messiahas.
Also, the Holy Quran teaches that human suffering comes as a trial but at the same time provides an opportunity for man to evolve. Moreover, he concluded by making references to Hazrat Amirul Momineen’saa advice to world leaders on the need to observe absolute justice in order for lasting peace to prevail. Furthermore, governments should make efforts to put collective interest above selfish national interest, as anything which falls short of that can foster hate and trade wars which can eventually lead to a catastrophic end.
There were so many positive comments received.
Watching on Youtube and commenting on the programme, Joseph Nagle, PhD student at Durham University, said:
“I really enjoyed this evening, and I personally took a lot from the discussions, at a time when lots of us are struggling in a number of ways. It was actually very meaningful, and almost soothing to think about the idea of inner peace and what that means for different people, different groups and for myself. I enjoyed hearing the community leaders speak and I also took a lot from the videos, in terms of learning about your community, your values, and the work that you do.”
A vote of thanks was delivered by Zartasht Latif Sahib, Regional Missionary, and dua was led by Ibrahim Ikhlaf Sahib. Alhamdulillah, the event was a massive success.
The event can be viewed on the following link: https://youtu.be/nElSdwpF3IA