Leicester Peace Conference 2020: Islam and the West – A Clash of Civilisations?

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Hammad Amjad, Secretary Tabligh & Syed Munawar Adil Ahmed, Secretary External Affairs

On 8 February 2020, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Leicester held their annual peace conference at Baitul Ikram Mosque. Over 60 guests attended including the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Annette Byrne, Deputy Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, Rob Nixon and the Chief Fire and Rescue Offi cer of Leicestershire and Rutland Rick Taylor. Other dignitaries in attendance were representatives of faith and civic groups, local universities, neighbourhood policing teams and members of the general public who had registered their interest prior to the event.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Islam and the West – A Clash of Civilisations?” The theme originated from the address delivered by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper, in Germany during his European tour of 2019.

For this year’s conference, a special request was submitted to beloved Huzooraa by the organising committee (the local amila) for the appointment of a keynote speaker. Huzooraa graciously accepted the request and appointed Dr Zahid Khan Sahib, in-charge of Qaza Board UK, as the keynote speaker.

The Jamaat’s literature and a Holy Quran exhibition was on display for the guests to learn more about Islam. A hijab stand was also made available by the Lajna tabligh team for female guests who wanted to see how it felt wearing a hijab. Tours of the mosque were also organised prior to the start of the formal proceedings.

The host for the night was Saleem Ahmed Sahib, member of the Qaza board and a former president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Leicester.

Proceedings started with a welcome address by local Jamaat President, Ibrahim Bonsu Sahib, who also gave a brief history of the local Ahmadiyya community and their charitable works in the community.

This was followed by a short video presentation on the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the role of Khilafat and the peaceful mission of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.

The deputy Chief Constable, Rob Nixon briefly addressed the conference highlighting the historical links between Great Britain and the Islamic world and the great commonalities. Reverend Tom Wilson, the director of St Phillips centre, an institution which fosters peaceful coexistence of religious groups, also threw light on the need for religious harmony in society.

This was also echoed by the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Annette Byrne in her speech.

The keynote speaker, Dr Zahid Khan Sahib shed light on the moral and cultural similarities between Islam and the West, challenging the stereotypes of differences and an inability to integrate that is oft en portrayed by the media with references to topics such as Jihad and purdah in Islam.

The keynote speech was well received by the audience with many giving positive feedback. The event ended with a silent prayer led by the missionary of Baitul Ikram mosque, Zartasht Latif Sahib.

A typical south Asian dinner which catered for vegan, vegetarian and other diets was served. As guests left, they received gift bags which contained a range of information about Islam and its revival Ahmadiyyat.

Many guests gave interviews at the event. One guest noted how “communities should hold such events so that there is no suspicion and that they work together to develop their communities and understand each other’s religion”. Alhamdolillah, the event was a massive success.

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