Break down barriers
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community staged a peace symposium in Leicester bringing together people of all faiths-and-none to promote peace.
We found plenty of common ground, much that we can build upon if only we come together and break down barriers.
As Ahmadis, we follow Islam purely as a religion of peace. It is hardwired into our very constitution and every single member of our community pledges to respect other people's views and beliefs; we pledge loyalty to the country we live in and to contribute positively to the communities in which we live. For us, Islam offers a perfect model for how to live our lives wherever we may be.
It is all so different to the public perception of Islam and the way extremists and some media distort perceptions of the vast majority of peace loving Muslims. Our motto of Love for All, Hatred for None is in stark contrast to messages of hate from extremists.
By getting together, you learn that most people, regardless of their faiths, subscribe to the same values of peace and aspire to a world where, as the Koran stipulates, there is no compulsion in religion.
And far from trying to change the world, you realise that by changing yourself, and taking practical steps to building peaceful communities, you are playing a part in changing the world.
That is why my community regularly engages in charity-giving as part of the faith, in exemplifying through our behaviour and actions that we stand for peace and equity. Even though in a world ravaged by conflict, the hopes of peace lovers almost seem forlorn, I am reminded of the insurmountable odds faced by the Prophets who succeeded even though all stood against them.
Ahmadis hold interfaith peace conferences across Britain to express our understanding of Islam as an inclusive, tolerant and universal faith. This was also cited in a recent Parliamentary debate where MPs extolled the contribution that Ahmadi Muslims had made to the fabric of life in Britain. As one of the oldest Muslim communities in Britain, it was heartening to hear a succession of MPs lauding the work of the Ahmadis.
Much work has been done in Leicester to break down barriers between faiths and this paper has played a major role in building community cohesion. As our peace symposium demonstrated, there are many people who want to build better communities divested of prejudice and strife.
Together, we can work to build on the foundations of peace and tolerance that must weather the storm of hate from zealots and extremists whether they claim to be of a religious or political motivation.
Ghulam Ahmed Khadim, regional missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Leicester