30,000 Ahmadi Muslims Gather to Reject Violence and Extremism
More than 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims from around the world came together in Hampshire, England over the weekend to reject the violence committed by ISIS and other terrorist groups. The three-day convention, called Jalsa Salana, is a 50-year long tradition for members of the Ahmadiyya Islamic movement.
On Sunday, the last day of the convention, participants raised Britain’s Union flag and repeated their condemnation of violence and extremism. The community’s worldwide Caliph, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, led the members through a prayer as they pledged their loyalty to their home country.
Speaking before the convention started last week, he said:
The only thing the terrorists are achieving is to completely violate the teachings of the Holy Quran and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Let it be clear that they are not practicing Islam, rather it seems as though they have invented their own hate-filled and poisonous religion.
Ahmadiyya U.K. tweeted this powerful picture from inside the convention hall.
— Ahmadiyya UK (@AhmadiyyaUK) August 15, 2016
The Ahmadiyya movement was founded in India in 1889 and has the motto “Love for all, hatred for none.” The President of the U.K. branch, Rafiq Hayat, told the Independent:
The 30,000 plus people from over 90 countries gathering at the convention come in the spirit of fraternity–and to give thanks for the security and freedom they have found in Britain.
He emphasized that many had fled persecution in their home countries and have much to be grateful to Britain for.
But orthodox Muslims see the movement as heretical for having a different view on Muhammad. In March, an orthodox Muslim man killed a man belonging to the Ahmadiyya branch because he thought he had disrespected Islam.
At the closing ceremony on Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May expressed her sympathy for the man’s death and praised the Ahmadiyya movement for its compassion and commitment to peace. She said, “Your motto–‘love for all, hatred for none’–shines from all you do. It is a message we would all do well to live by, especially as we build a stronger, more united future.”