Against a backdrop of conflict in the Middle East and the brutal killings by ISIS, including the recent murder of journalist James Foley, more than 30,000 Muslims will gather this weekend to pray for peace, commit to countering extremism in all its forms and vow to defend religious freedoms for all.
In a show of unity for moderate Muslims everywhere, worshippers from 50 countries will be joined by senior British politicians and inter-faith leaders at Oaklands Farm, in Hampshire, on Friday 29th, Saturday 30th, and Sunday 31st of August, to mark the 125th anniversary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the UK's oldest Muslim convention.
Now in its 48th year, the Hampshire event (called Jalsa Salana) is the oldest and largest Muslim convention of its kind in the UK.
The focal point of the event will be addresses by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who will denounce extremists for ignoring Islam's true teachings of adherence to peacefulness, tolerance and respect for the religious freedoms of others.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who has also spoken at the Capitol Hill, the European Parliament and in the House of Commons, said:
"This is a special year for us as we celebrate our 125th anniversary, but with so many parts of the world, including Syria, Iraq and Gaza, in the grip of conflict, our celebrations will be tinged with sadness."
"I urge those secular and spiritual leaders who are able to exert influence in troubled regions of our world to find a way to put aside your differences, rise above petty disagreement and come together to find a lasting solution that will allow people of different faiths and communities to live together in peace and harmony."
"As Ahmadi Muslims we will continue to counter extremism, hatred and prejudice with messages of peace and understanding, prayer and service to mankind. And in this year of our 125 anniversary, we will continue this tradition in the service of our faith and the betterment of mankind."
Despite widespread persecution across the globe, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s commitment is to win hearts and minds through positive community engagement.
This year’s Jalsa Salana will witness the raising of the British flag before worshippers and a global TV audience of millions. Other events include the formation of a human chain by worshippers as they take a vow of peace, obedience and loyalty to their faith.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was founded in 1889 in Qadian, India and now spans 204 countries, with a membership of tens of millions. The community’s continued commitment to peace and understanding in the face of terrible persecution has drawn praise from leading international and British political figures.
In 2013, to mark a hundred years of the community in the UK, David Cameron, The Prime Minister, praised the group, saying:
"Your community has suffered terrible persecution but I know that your worldwide leader, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is a man of peace."
"I hope that your good works, your message of peace and your philosophy of Love For All, Hatred For None continue to flourish in Britain and throughout the world."
Note to editors:
1. Jalsa Salana will be held on a 200-acre site at Oakland Farm, Green Street, East Worldham, Hampshire, GU34 3AU
2. The convention’s opening ceremony is at 4.30pm on Friday 29th August. The event will conclude with an address at 4pm on Sunday 31st August by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad
3. The event will be broadcast live around the world on the community's own 24-hour satellite TV station, MTA - broadcast on Sky channel 787 in the UK.
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