In 1978, Michael Hart published his book titled “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.” In this book, Hart ranked Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) as the number one most influential person in history. He wrote:
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and maybe questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.”
Yet, despite of this choice by Hart, the Prophet of Islam remains today one of the most misunderstood religious figures in history. He is not only misunderstood by non-Muslims but many of his own followers have failed to understand and act on his teachings. Thus, we see a faction of Muslims who are creating mayhem in the guise of defending his honor while on the other spectrum, fierce opponents such as, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and Geert Wilder are painting a portrait of Prophet Muhammad which is contrary to his true character.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA has taken a step to clear misconceptions about Prophet Muhammad through the “Muhammad Messenger of Peace” nationwide campaign by hosting a series of conferences focusing on his life and teachings. One such conference was held in Jamaica, New York at the BAARNY Center, on Sunday, March 16. It was geared towards the Bengali community of New York. The event was attended by 140 men and women of whom 57 were non-Ahmadi guests. Among the guests was also present His Excellency Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations.
The program opened with recitation from the Qur’an. There were speeches on the exemplary life of the Prophet Muhammad and short video clips highlighting the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s social service work such as, nationwide blood drives under the ‘Muslims for Life’ initiative and ‘Humanity First’, a disaster relief organization. Husna Mirza (12), Nashita Khandakar (12), and Ishana Khandakar (9) rendered a beautiful Arabic poem, ‘Qaseeda’, written in praise of the Prophet Muhammad.
Mirza Ghulam Rabbi, the coordinator and the moderator of the program explained the purpose of the conference.
“The reason for us gathering here today is so that we can convey the message of our love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him). Our love for him alone is enough to solve any contemporary issues.”
The program was not an exclusive event for the Muslims but non-Muslims also attended. Among them were a Hindu and a Buddhist. Explaining the reason why it is important for non-Muslims to know about the Prophet Muhammad, Rabbi went on to say,
“God has said in the Qur’an that He sent prophets to all nations. But Prophet Muhammad is the seal of all the prophets, the leader of all other prophets. And as Muslims we are required to believe in all prophets sent by God. Thus, when we celebrate his (Muhammad) life we are in turn celebrating all the prophets, such as, Jesus, Krishna, Confucius, and others.”
Homaira Khandakar of New Jersey was at the event with her husband and children. She was the coordinator for the women guests.
“It is only with the shear blessings of God that we could have such a successful event,” Khandakar said.
Waseem Sayed, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was highly impressed by the event.
“I really enjoyed the program. I found the guests frank and really interested to hear our presentations. We had Hindu, Christian Buddhist and non Ahmadi Muslim guests. The question and answer session was perhaps the most interesting part of the program. The space we had was barely sufficient for the number of participants,” Sayed remarked.
After the main portion of the program, guests had the opportunity to ask questions. Naseem Mahdi, the National Vice President and Missionary In-Charge, was available to answer questions from the audience.