Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (GA Chapter) hosted a conference “Muhammad – Messenger of Peace” on March 16th at its mosque in Norcross. This effort was part of a nationwide campaign to give fellow Americans the opportunity to learn about the Prophet of Islam. All 73 Chapters of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community U.S.A are hosting such events across the nation in the month of March. A website www.muhammadfactcheck.org was also launched to provide an arena of education about Muhammad (PBUH) and his practices.
As the founder of their religion, Muslims across the globe deem him to be sent as “mercy for mankind” as mentioned in their holy scripture, the Quran but, how the general public perceives him may be different. With repeated attacks on his character in the past many years, which Muslims believe to be inconsistent with his real character, the hosts felt there is need to bring awareness to his life and practices to the American public as a civil response.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (GA Chapter) President, Mr Hazeem Phudiapura welcomed the guests in his opening remarks and then gave the floor to Dr. Khalid Noori who moderated and chaired the event for the evening. Following the recitation of the holy Quran, a video about Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was shown that introduced the audience to the founder of the community, history of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community U.S.A and showcased successful campaigns like “Muslims for Peace”, “Muslims for Loyalty” and “Muslims for Life” launched by the community in the post 9/11 era. It also brought attention to its sister organization “Humanity First” and it’s humanitarian relief efforts both globally and here in the U.S.
Three Ahmadi Muslim girls then took center stage to read a few couplets from an Arabic poem by the founder of the community along with its English translation.
Next, a community member from Augusta, Mr. Mahmud Ahmad gave a passionate speech highlighting various aspects of Muhammad’s (PBUH) life and gave many examples of his peace loving nature. The program concluded with a question answer session from a panel that constituted of Mr. Ghayyur Manan, Mr. Nafees Rehman and Mr. Qamar Ahmad Zafar. Some of the questions that came up were about Shariah, asking for clarification on the differences between Ahmadi Muslims and other Muslim sects and total number of Muslim sects etc.
Another crowd pleaser was the poster exhibition about the Prophet of Islam depicting various events and sayings from his life for the interest of the guests. There was also a book stall set up with community publications on various topics for the interest of the visitors.
The gathering of about seventy included forty four guests from various faiths including Christianity, Baha’i faith, Sikhism, agnostics and non-Ahmadi Muslims. For most, this was a first time opportunity to learn from fellow Muslim Americans about a person who some call “the most influential man in history” while others believe to be a “militant fighter”. One guest from North Decatur United Methodist Church, Mr. Michael Norris expressed to the Community’s Outreach Secretary Mr. Rehman that the general American public is unaware of the character traits exposed in the event and therefore pointed out a greater need for these events to be held much more frequently.
This one of a kind event brought people from different faiths together and they were able to find commonalities between them. One such example was Ms. Ann from the Cobb Faith Partnership, who was not only able to see many similarities between different tenets of Islam and Christianity but, was also truly impressed by the Prophet of Islam’s concern about women rights, something unperceivable looking at the state of many Muslim women in various Islamic countries today.
Most guests were pleased by their experience and expressed their gratitude for being invited. Mr. Gogi Basi representing the Atlanta Gurdawara conveyed that, “It is always a pleasure to be among those who care for the entire human race and not just the followers of their own faith.” He furthered added,“I enjoyed it immensely. Would always love to be part of such events."
Muslims believe that unlike prophets prior to Muhammad (PBUH) who were sent for specific groups or nations, the Prophet of Islam was sent for the world. His purpose, to create unity among mankind and just this little effort by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community seems to prove the point.