A busy day today, this first day of Inter Faith Week. Having just got home from the exhibition in Highcross, I speedily change into my suit then straight back out: to Braunstone Civic Centre, to attend a Peace Symposium and dinner, hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association.
Once seated at our tables, we are first treated to a DVD presentation, introducing the Ahmadiyya community - illustrating both its history and its current activities and filled with testimonies to the beneficial influence of the community from notable academics, parliamentarians and humanitarians. Following that, we hear a variety of speakers give short talks: Ven. Richard Atkinson, Archdeacon of Leicester; Chief Inspector Rich Keenan, Leicestershire Constabulary; Maqsood Ahmed, Faiths Adviser to the Department of Communities and Local Government; Prof Malcolm Shaw QC, Faculty of Law at the University of Leicester; Liz Kendall MP for Leicester West and Shadow Health Minister. Several words of praise were aimed at the council of Faith; our Chair, Councillor Manjula Sood, was seated at the top table among other guests of honour. Finally, we heard from the keynote speaker, Syed Mansoor Shah, one of four national vice Presidents of the Ahamdiyya Muslim Association.
The guiding principle of the Ahmadiyya - "Love for all, hatred for none" - was writ large on the wall, above and behind the top table.
This was a pleasant evening of fellowship, hospitality and inspiration - and my first formal encounter with the Ahmadiyya community of Leicester. when I started on inter faith work in Glasgow, over 30 years ago, the Ahmadiyya there were the only Muslim group whiling to take part in the Sharing of Faiths. My first real encounter with Muslims, at the age of 19, was with Ahmadiyya Muslims - so I don't need to be persuaded of their virtues.