Ataul Hayee Sohail, Mohtamim Ishaat, MKA Bulgaria
On 12 March 2022, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Bulgaria was able to organise an interfaith and inter-cultural event in Plovdiv city.
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria with a population of 366,511 people; an ancient city built around seven hills in southern Bulgaria. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe. In 2019, Plovdiv was chosen as the European Capital of Culture. The city is dominated by Orthodoxy and has a population of all other branches, self-identifying as Christian. There is also a Muslim and a Jewish community in the city as well as temples of other religions.
This programme was designed to introduce the medical students of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, as well as the local guests from different religious backgrounds, to the Bulgarian history, tradition and orthodox faith. The students also invited their fellow peers from the medical university.
The aim was to create a feeling of togetherness, to create an environment of mutual understanding and respect amongst everyone.
The whole introductory and educational tour was presented by our special guest and friend, Dr Petar Gramatikov. He has experience as a director of the Diocese Department for Culture and Education Coordination of all educational and cultural activities at the church diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and media management.
The day included a tour of the museum Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis, a few important spots in the city center and a tour of St Konstantin and Elena Church.
The Ahmadi missionary, Abdullah – Anton Mihaylov Sahib also attended the event throughout the day. He presented Dr Petar Gramatikov with several gifts, including a ring that had the “Alaisallahu bikafin ‘Abdahu” [Is Allah not sufficient for His servant?] inscription, as well as explaining its origin and meaning.
At the end of the day, our guests expressed their gratitude for the hospitality.
Wai, a third-year medical student at the Plovdiv Medical University said:
“It was very fascinating seeing how different religions and cultures kind of work together all at different times, and I definitely learnt a lot.”
Mr Chepokov, a local resident in Plovdiv said:
“I am native here from Plovdiv and I had the chance to be with this wonderful group of students today from the dental and medical university […] [and today] we learnt a lot and enjoyed our time together.”
He went on to say:
“This was a wonderful event, I really enjoyed it and I recommend [anyone] else to participate in the future because you make friends, we learn from each other [and] we build upon each other.”
Everyone who attended the event found it to be very interesting and enjoyable.