Ibrahim Bonsu, President Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Leicester
On 19 November 2022, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Leicester organised a Religious Founders’ Day event via Zoom under the theme “Is religion a source for unity or conflict?”. Like the previous year, the event was organised as part of the United Kingdom’s Interfaith Week celebration. However, the theme for this year’s event was more crucial, given the recent community disturbance in Leicester between certain sections of the Muslim and Hindu communities. The event was attended by guest speakers from three religious communities.
The event began with the recitation from the Holy Quran, followed by the welcome address by my humble self. This was followed by a video introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the system of Khilafat.
The first guest speaker, representing the Sikh community, was Mr Resham Sandhu, who also serves as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire. In his speech, he called on members of the various religious communities to lead by example and called for the need for more religious dialogue to foster cohesive relationships. He also praised the exemplary role of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in spreading love and promoting peace as a true embodiment of their slogan: Love for all, hatred for none.
The second speaker was Mr Alastair Jackson from the Quaker Meeting. He started by introducing the background of the Quakers’ meeting and how worship is organised by the Quakers. He then moved on to tackle the theme by highlighting that religion had unfortunately been used as a tool by some throughout history to wage war and persecute others. However, he said, this was a misrepresentation of the true objective of religion.
A video was played of the historical address given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa at the inauguration of Baitul Ikram Mosque in Leicester in 2016. Huzooraa drew the attention of all communities in Leicester to reflect on how the early settlers of the city, despite their diverse backgrounds, abandoned all their differences and learnt to live as one peaceful community for a very long time. Therefore, it was the duty of the current generation to preserve that legacy.
The third guest speaker was Reverend Dr Israel Selvanayagam from the Leicester Trinity Methodist Church. He defended the true cause of religion as a source of unity, and elaborated that it was the deviation from the path of God that had the potential to cause negative consequences for society.
Finally, Mansoor Clarke Sahib, a missionary, made references to the recent unfortunate news of violent disturbances between some sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester. He mentioned injustice and a lack of tolerance as some of the main root causes of such social disorder, which aimed to destroy the long-lasting atmosphere of peace that had always prevailed between the various communities in Leicester. However, he said, this could only be attributed to people having misunderstood the true teachings of their religion.
The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Hammad Amjad Sahib, Outreach Coordinator of Jamaat Leicester, followed by a silent prayer.