Muddassar Rashid, AMRA UK
On the second day of the new year, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Research Association (AMRA) held its first virtual, albeit its 11th annual, conference.
The conference saw delegates attend from over 11 countries joining via Zoom and YouTube livestream. At its height, over 350 attendees partook in this virtual conference. Consequently this was a truly international conference enabling Ahmadi researchers from around the globe to come together, discuss and network in a highly multidisciplinary conference.
The conference began with a recitation of the Holy Quran followed by a welcome address by Luqman Bajwa, serving as Mohtamim Umur-e-Tulaba within MKA UK. He reminded the attendees of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V’saa message in the last AMRA Conference specifically highlighting that our pursuit of knowledge should not be a worldly pursuit, but a form of worship in itself.
Huzooraa stressed it is our responsibility to approach our research and studies in a way that finds new proofs for the existence of Allah.
Following this, Dr Muddassar Rashid, serving as AMRA chairman, presented a report of last year’s activities of AMRA. This included the numerous research cafés, and online workshops organised by AMRA for researchers, as well as STEM outreach activities organised for youngsters by Ahmadi researchers in the form of lectures on Islam and science and workshops on mechanical engineering of F1 cars.
Following this, a detailed exposition of the strategic aims of AMRA were presented with the annual plan. The first session of the conference followed immediately, with 10-minute student talks by Bushra Malahath, Rizwan Mohammad and Zoea Ahmad. These were received with additional Q&As after their talks from both the Zoom and YouTube viewers.
The second session was a unique exercise with the introduction of parallel sessions consisting of two streams. Stream 1 focused on talks relating to biological sciences, whilst stream 2 focused on the both the physical and social sciences.
In total, seven talks took place in parallel, presented by early career and seasoned researchers. The talks also invited much debate and discussion amongst the attendees pushing the Q&A at the end of the session well into the break.
The third session of the conference, in stream 1, hosted a panel discussion specifically for students and parents; exploring the question of what it takes to make the next world leaders and how can one achieve educational excellence.
This was very well attended with over 250 viewers at any given time, with many families watching together.
Stream 2 hosted an equally important workshop and asked the question of how Ahmadi researchers can become world-renowned researchers. The workshop had over 40 researchers in both academia and industry, discussing the different aspects that makes a ground-breaking researcher, analysing the lives of such individuals, as well as discussing what difficulties Ahmadi researchers feel they are facing whilst working in research environments.
The conference then swiftly moved into the keynote address by Dr Athar Malik from Harvard University looking into “The neuroscience of the Quran”. The talk was very well received, and Dr Athar Malik talked about the parallels that one can see between both the physical and spiritual laws pertaining to neuroscience, specifically talking about the visual system and the system of reward and punishment.
The conference concluded with a conference report by the AMRA Chairman, and a concluding address by Abdul Quddus Arif, Sadr Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya UK. Sadr Sahib talked about “The Existence of Allah the Exalted”.
He detailed various proofs of the existence of God, citing many insightful and inspirational examples of the acceptance of prayer, showing that if you call for God, He surely answers.
Sadr Sahib also reiterated the call from Huzooraa for Ahmadi researchers to bring about the new Islamic golden age, a fitting reminder of the responsibility given to the conference delegates present at the first Virtual Conference organised by AMRA.
The conference ended with silent prayer.