Peace conference held by Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Newcastle, UK

Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, Missionary-in-charge, UK

Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Newcastle, UK, held a peace conference on 4 June 2023, at the Britannia Hotel. The topic of the conference was “How to achieve eternal peace”. The attendance at the conference was around 120, including the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Veronica Dunn, the Worshipful Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Eileen McMaster, the Mayor of Ponteland, Councillor Karen Overbury, and my humble self. There was representation from the Newcastle and Hexham Diocese Interreligious Team, the Sikh Temple, and the Chronicle.

The conference started with a recitation from the Holy Quran and its English translation. Minhas Younas Sahib, the local president, greeted all the distinguished guests in his welcome note and gave a rundown of the event.

Regional missionary, Tahir Selby Sahib then presented an introduction to the Jamaat and mentioned the community work that has been carried out by the Community members of Newcastle and Hartlepool. A few of the activities he mentioned included charity walks, New Year’s cleaning sessions, food donations, and fundraising for the Poppy Appeal and other charities.

The first speaker was Councillor Veronica Dunn, Lord Mayor of Newcastle. She acknowledged the pervasive usage and extensive historical background of the word “peace”. Councillor Dunn highlighted that peace finds application in both religious and civil contexts. Furthermore, she emphasised that peace could encompass a multitude of interpretations and hold various meanings.

The second speaker was the Worshipful Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Eileen McMaster. She defined positive peace as the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain a peaceful society. This, she said, provided a framework for understanding and addressing the multiple and complex challenges facing the world. She also mentioned that she wants to pay tribute to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, as their work highlights the importance of coming together to create a stronger and more inclusive community that promotes understanding and harmony.

The third speaker was Councillor Karen Overbury, the Mayor of Ponteland. She emphasised the importance of conveying to our children that, while happiness may fluctuate, peace should endure.

The closing speech was delivered by my humble self, where I expressed my appreciation for the insightful contributions of the guests and commended the concise yet impactful speeches delivered by the mayors. I emphasised several crucial points necessary for the attainment of peace. I discussed the teachings of Islam concerning the rights of neighbours and said that it is the duty of Muslims to show kindness to all individuals without discrimination based on religion, as this is essential for establishing peace.

After this, I answered some questions from the audience regarding women’s rights in Islam, the difference in beliefs between Ahmadi Muslims and non-Ahmadi Muslims, the Islamic belief of Jihad, and the institution of Khilafat.

The conference formally ended with silent prayer.

A Quran exhibition had been set up, where several translations of the Holy Quran were on display. There was also a stall in which literature published by Jamaat was displayed. Many guests visited the exhibition and the stall. The event concluded with dinner.         

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