Mohammed Arshad Ahmedi, Secretary Ishaat, UK
After seven consecutive years of attendance, Ahmadiyya Jamaat UK once again had the opportunity to take part in the world-renowned London Book Fair, which took place on 10-12 April at Olympia.
In previous years the Jamaat had struggled to secure a prominent place within the exhibitions stands. Such is the popularity of the event that publishers tend to hang on to their stands in the same position for many years. At the end of last year’s event we let the Book Fair know where we preferred to have our stand the following year.
We received a phone call last summer that a stand had become available on the main ground floor close to Harper Collins and Penguin. After negotiations, a stand was secured at a prime location.
With the approval of Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, the Review of Religion’s Al Qalam project was incorporated with the AMA UK stall this year, something that attracted many visitors. The Al Qalam Project managed to secure a spot of its own which magnified our participation.
The theme for our stand this year was “The Quran in the 21st Century”, and the Review of Religions promoted the Al Qalam project, for which Razwan Baig Sahib had made available some historic old copies of the Quran.
Another item that we tried for the first time was booking a Speakers’ Slot where one of the theatres is used to make a 30 minute presentation, which is also promoted by the organisers before the event. It was decided at the last minute to avail one of the only slots available on the first day at 10am, which was in fact the very first presentation of the Book Fair.
As Secretary Ishaat UK, I made the initial presentation introducing Islam International Publications working under the auspices of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat and the theme of “The Quran in the 21st Century”. Bilal Mahmood Sahib recited the first verses of the Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammadsa which brought complete silence to the theatre, something never experienced before. Amer Safir Sahib then introduced the Review of Religions and the Al Qalam project. There were only a handful of people present at the Speakers’ Slot, but there were people walking around the theatre who would stop occasionally.
A company from Turkey wished to avail five sets of all translated copies of the Holy Quran to distribute in all Turkish universities; they also wanted a copy of each of the English and Arabic books in the catalogue. Similarly, a UAE company wanted five sets of our Holy Quran in Braille which they wished to donate to Association for the Blind.