A well-attended Midlands Pan-African Interfaith Peace Conference was held at the Darul Barakat Mosque in Birmingham on 15th November 2014. The event was organised by Midlands PAAMA under the supervision of the Regional President,Toby Ephram Sahib, and his Regional Executive. It was graced by the Amir UK, Rafiq Hayat Sahib; President PAAMA UK, Tommy Kallon Sahib, Regional Amir Midlands, Dr Muhammad Ashraf, and the Regional Missionary Midlands, Maulana Abdul Ghaffar Sahib. Other dignitaries included the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, MEP West Midlands and representatives from the Royal Navy.
By the grace of Allah, the Conference was well attended with over 200 participants, including 140 guests. In addition to the speeches, an exhibition of the Jama’at’s activities, including books, posters and pictures of the Khulafa and Humanity First were displayed.
Tommy Kallon Sahib gave the welcome address and drew attention to the current state of affairs with unrest and disharmony the world over. He stressed the importance of conferences such as these to determine what role religion can play in establishing peace through the promotion of charity and goodwill, absolute morality, good neighbourliness, and, above all, true brotherhood.
Guest speakers included Superintendent Richard Baker of the West Midlands Police who commented on the significance of this event, saying that it affords people the opportunity to address issues pertaining to peace and work towards solutions. The charity “Stop Hate UK” operates a 24-hr help line which encourages members of the public to report hate crimes in confidence. They were represented by Claire Tabert who urged participants to double their efforts to reduce hate crimes in order to build a more cohesive society in UK. Bishop Basil Richards of the Church of God of Prophecy quoted Martin Luther King, among others, stating, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” Mr. Dave Whipp of the Buddhist Temple, stressed that showing respect to one another is one of the most important elements of peace. Arvinder Jain, representing Jainism, expressed his belief that peace could be achieved by paying attention to our words and actions and to make sure we relegate violence to the background. Dr. Yadar Umesh of the Arya Samaj maintained that there are five main components to establishing peace: truth, non-violence, love, respect and prayers. The Rev. Anderson Denis quoted Mother Teresa saying, “Peace begins with a smile and it enlightens the environment; it makes our approach to one another easier, loving and sharing.”
The Keynote Address was delivered by Rafiq Hayat Sahib, Amir UK. He commented that all the speakers at the conference seem to share the same views when it comes to religion, world peace and community cohesion. However, our dreams for global peace presently seems beyond our reach because our worldly and religious leaders have become consistently inconsistent.
Referring to the misuse of religion for political ends, Amir Sahib stated categorically that the Holy Qur’an does not give permission, under any circumstances, for extremism or terrorism. Incorrect teachings or wrong interpretation of the Word of God and self-aggrandisement for power and money, have “buried” the peaceful and tolerant teachings of Islam and other religions completely. He drew a clear example from the IS(Islamic State)’s wrong and unacceptable ambitions of turning all countries or nations into an Islamic State. He reminded participants of the Qur’anic injunction which says that, “there should not be any compulsion in religion.”
Amir Sahib further explained the Divinely established institution of Khilafat in Ahmadiyya is unique and far removed from the kind of leadership advocated by the IS. He challenged participants to do their homework by finding out why IS is growing with alarming propensity. He suggested that Russia, the West, or Middle Eastern countries may be behind the supplying of weapons to these notorious groups. Simply put, this secret trade of weapons culminating in mass destruction are decisions taken by our politicians and urged participants to question political leaders for endangering global peace.
Additionally, Amir Sahib suggested solutions to establishing community cohesion and global peace, advising that people should mend their ways and establish a genuine relationship with their Creator. They should aim to reduce the gap between man and his Creator and to revive the religion of Islam as demonstrated by Islam Ahmadiyya. Along the same line, they must be champions and proponents of justice, be it social, economic or political. Piety, righteousness and fear of God should become the hallmark of our lives. Finally, Amir Sahib reminded participants that loyalty to one’s country is part of faith.
The conference concluded with silent prayers lead by Amir Sahib, after which gifts were presented to distinguished guests and speakers by Amir Sahib and Tommy Kallon Sahib. A complementary dinner was then served to all.
Please click here to view pictures from this historic event.
Please click here to view a video summary of this historic event.