As unrest and violence cover much of the world today, it is a welcome gesture shown by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of bringing together faith leaders to address the issue of how to garner peace in the world. On February 11, 2014, the Conference of World Religions was held at the Guildhall, London, UK. The conference which was attended by 500 delegates, included faith leaders from various countries, politicians, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, academics and representatives of various NGOs.
His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the World Head and the fifth Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was the keynote speaker at the historic conference. The goal of the event was that the faith leaders ponder upon how religion could play a role in bringing about world peace. In his keynote address, His Holiness sought to address the question in light of the true teachings of Islam. He reminded everyone that all the major world religions shared the common teachings of the worship of God and the love and compassion towards mankind in their original form. The Khalifa explained that if man upheld these original teachings of then there would be a harmonious society, free from war and conflict. He reminded the audience of the level of steadfastness exhibited by the Founder of Islam, Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the face of horrific and sustained persecution.
“When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gained victory over the sworn enemies of Islam, who in the past had left no stone unturned in their efforts to destroy the religion, he responded with peace and forgiveness,” His Holiness said.
Critics have been ever ready to proclaim that Islam is a religion of violence and not one of peace. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad clarified this misconception. He said that all wars fought during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) or during the era of his four Rightly Guided Successors were defensive wars and were waged only to “end cruelty” and “establish peace”. However, it is true that wars were fought during the rule of Muslim monarchs with the purpose of expansion of kingdoms and to gain power.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said that Ahmadi Muslims believed the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi and that he had come to end all religious wars, to bring mankind towards its Creator and to draw the attention of the world towards fulfilling the rights of one another.
His Holiness urged the people of all religions to work together towards creating a just society based on mutual respect and tolerance.
“I hope and pray that we, who are the representatives of different faiths and religions, and who have gathered here today to practically demonstrate these loving teachings, all strive towards worshipping the One God, by treating His Creation with justice and by fulfilling their due rights. Certainly these are the original teachings of all religions. We should utilize all of our resources and capabilities to foster a better society, to help God’s Creation and to spread love, affection and peace at every level. The urgent and critical need of the world today is to establish peace and faith in God,” Hazrat Ahmad said.
The conference also received messages of support from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Prime Minister David Cameron and several other dignitaries.
The list of leaders who attended the conference is as follows:
1. Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Joint President of the World Congress of Faiths
2. Umesh Sharma, Chairman of the Hindu Council UK
3. Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, the Attorney General
4. Geshe Tashi Tsering, read a message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
5. Prof Kwaku Danso‐Boafo, High Commissioner of Ghana
6. Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, Spiritual Head of the Druze Community of Israel
7. Dr Katrina Lantos‐Swett, Vice‐Chair United States Commission on International
8. Baroness Berridge, Chair of the UK Parliamentary Group on International Religious
9. Archbishop Kevin McDonald, representing the Roman Catholic Church
10. Rt Hon Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign Office
11. Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, representing the Chief Rabbi of Israel