Imaduddin Al-Misri, Kababir, Haifa
Social media posts are being shared of the Jew-Arab gatherings hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Haifa. People from across the world have expressed that the sight of Jews and Arabs coming together in a period of extreme tensions and fear has been a ray of hope and delight amid tensions and fear.
In reality, our community in Haifa has recently hosted three separate gatherings of Jews and Arabs that have created a beautiful sense of harmony.
To get a taste of how the guests felt, here is what two Jewish guests said:
“In my view, this gathering serves as a significant testament that demonstrates to the Islamic community, the Jewish community, and the global community at large that we can engage in meaningful dialogue that brings us together. We are not adversaries; we are allies. Together, we achieve success.”
The second guest expressed:
“This event brought a smile to my face when I was in a difficult emotional state and lacked the will to even smile. After hearing the address of the Amir of the community [in the Holy Land], I feel a profound sense of relief. It was my first time meeting him, and I must say he is an exceptional individual. I wholeheartedly wish he could lead our country as Prime Minister.”
(The ‘Standing-Together’ organisation were able to host their Arab-Jew harmony initiative in the Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque, Haifa)
The venue of inter-faith Arab-Jew meetings has been the Ahmadiyya Mahmud Mosque in Haifa along with the new Masroor Centre complex.
The first meeting brought religious leaders together and was a collaboration between the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Haifa Laboratory for Religious Studies, taking place on 30 October 2023. Representatives from various faiths, including Jewish Rabbis, Christian Pastors, Muslim Imams, Druze Imams, and even a Buddhist Monk, came together. They unanimously agreed on the importance of coexistence as a shared value to work towards.
The following day, we held another interfaith event in which we reached out to all Jewish and Muslim neighbours through text messages and social media promotions: 5,000 advertisements were printed and distributed within a few days, reaching people in the surrounding areas.
600 local Jews and Arabs came together in this event – a number that exceeded expectations, given the prevailing conditions in the country. These numbers were unprecedented as even in our recent Jalsa Salana (annual gathering) we only saw 450 attendees. With the large numbers of Arabs and Jews, our main hall rapidly reached its capacity, necessitating the use of all the additional spaces we had in our mosque complex.
Amir of the Holy Lands, Muhammad Sharif Odeh emphasised Islam’s condemnation of attacks on innocent people and highlighted the true teachings of Islam, which promote “Love for All, Hatred for None.” He urged Jewish guests not to justify unjust retaliation in the name of revenge.
“It is haram [unlawful] to kill civilians and innocent people – this is not the right way, there are other solutions, without weapons.
“Muslims and Jews have lived together for more than 1300 years, and Jews were given their rights under the Muslim rule. They gained an identity, status and position that they never got anywhere else. It was under the Muslim rule that they had these rights and they were respected. So, we lived together in coexistence for more than 1300 years.
“Muslims and Jews should know that not speaking up in the face of oppression destroys the human feelings in our hearts and stops us from feeling empathy towards the pains and suffering of each other.”
Overall, the attendees expressed their relief and newfound hope, sharing how the programme eased their fears in these challenging times. This bold and courageous initiative was a testament to the community’s commitment to promoting peace and unity in the face of adversity.
Additionally, the Mahmud mosque played a pivotal role in supporting the “Standing Together” organisation (@omdimbeyachad) which had initially faced rejection while seeking a venue in Haifa to hold a Jew-Arab event. Our Mahmud Mosque provided the space they needed and welcomed Arabs and Jews alike, united in their desire for peace and coexistence. This event also saw all our spaces being filled to the brim.
Both organisers and guests commended the mosque’s role in hosting the event, underscoring that it reflected Islamic teachings that led to these gatherings.
This act of unity and inclusivity serves as a beacon of hope in a region marred by discord and conflict, embodying the message of “Love for All, Hatred for None.” The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the Holy Lands has a long history of efforts towards peace and reconciliation amongst Jews and Arabs and we will continue in this essential endeavour, insha-Allah.