Syed Mukarram Nazeer, Canada Correspondent
Samir Aslam Sahib, Secretary Ishaat, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Lloydminster and Waseem Ahmad Sahib report that Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Lloydminster is no stranger to organising interfaith symposiums and open house events.
Celebrating 50 years of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya in Canada, Jamaat Lloydminster conveyed the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat in 50 neighbouring towns; distributing flyers and organising open houses. Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Lloydminster also conveyed this message to 20 neighbouring Indigenous reserves as well and has developed a good relationship with them.
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Lloydminster has also organised Interfaith Symposiums within Lloydminster in the past. But on 29 February 2020, this small Jamaat which is situated on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan, organised its first World Religions Conference outside of Lloydminster.
This was in North Battleford, a small town, some 140 kilometres south east of Lloydminster with a population of over 14,000. This town is notorious for its crime rate and violence. Canadian News Magazine Maclean’s declared North Battleford, “Canada’s Most Dangerous Place in 2020”.
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Lloydminster contacted representatives of different faiths and invited them to talk about the solutions to the crime and violence problem according to their teachings and scriptures. Therefore, the name of this event was suggested to be “Pathway to Peace”.
Planning of the event started in January, some two months prior to the event. Lloydminster Jamaat volunteers worked hard to get the work done in time. The planning and organisation of this event also brought everyone together, united them, and filled everyone with energy to do tabligh. Around 1200 flyers were distributed in North Battleford, posters put on billboards, and ads were run in local newspaper and social media.
Another advantage of this event was the establishment of new contacts with other communities. Jamaat representatives travelled three hours to a Gurdwara in Saskatoon – the largest city of the province of Saskatchewan – to invite them to speak at the conference.
Jamaat representatives were welcomed with open arms and offered great hospitality. They were provided with an opportunity to address local attendees after the ‘Ardaas’ (prayer service).
The very next day was Friday, and the Gurdwara elders visited Baitur Rehmat Mosque, Saskatoon at the time of Friday prayers and brought a gift of 150 lb of sweets (Jalebiyan). It was a wonderful portrayal of building friendships between two communities. The indigenous community also responded in a very positive manner to the invitation to speak. Many of them were familiar with Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, but had limited contact and relationships.
After they were invited and became aware of the conference programme, they became more open and welcoming. They discussed the event in detail and made positive suggestions. The Hindu community was also invited. They visited our mosque and were introduced to Islam and Islamic teachings. They were much impressed by the efforts of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya.
In the conference itself, six speakers represented their respective faiths. These were:
1. Pastor Keith Klippenstein, from the Territorial Drive Alliance Church, North Battleford represented Christianity.
2. Seeta Ram from Florida, USA represented Hinduism.
3. Amandeep Singh, from the Gurdwara Society Corman Park (this is the largest Gurdwara in Saskatchewan) represented Sikhism.
4. Elder Wes Fine Day, one of the most prominent aboriginal youth leaders, from Sweetgrass, represented the Indigenous Community.
5. Quinten Weenie, a storyteller and history keeper, also from Sweetgrass, represented the Indigenous Community.
6. Mansoor Azeem Sahib, a missionary from Baitul Amaan Mosque Lloydminster, represented Islam.
The event was covered by all media outlets of Battlefords including TV, newspaper, radio stations, and their local news websites. The event proceedings were recorded by local cable TV channel, to be played for local audiences.
The event was attended by more than 80 guests.
May Allah the Almighty enable us to continue to spread the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat with the best of our abilities. Amin