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UK: The Conference of World Religions comes to London's historical Guildhall

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A mega religious conference is coming to London in less than two weeks that seeks “to restore the rightful contribution religion has to offer the 21st Century”.

The event is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 11, 2014, at the historical Great Hall of Guildhall in London.

An initiative of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, The Conference of World Religions, is being organized under the title “God in the 21st Century” by the community as part of their centenary celebrations in the UK.

“We are seeking to reinvigorate that spirit of learning and respect and to restore the rightful contribution religion has to offer the 21st Century,” the community said in their invitation.

According to the community’s website, several international faith and civic leaders will address a specially invited audience of about 500 delegates from the world of faith, politics, government and the diplomatic corps, as well as a range of specialist NGOs involved in the work of peace and reconciliation.

The Khalifa of Islam and the head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat (His Holiness) Mirza Masroor Ahmad will deliver a keynote address.

His Holiness Ahmad, a renowned advocate for universal human rights and global peace, has delivered keynote speeches at the British Parliament, Capitol Hill and the European Parliament on the theme of peace and justice.

An impressive lineup of speakers at the conference includes, Archbishop Kevin McDonald, representing Catholic Church; Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, representing Chief Rabbi of Israel; Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, Spiritual Head of The Druze Community in Israel; Umesh Chander Sharma, chairman of the Hindu Council, UK; Dr Katrina Lantos-Swett, Vice-Chair United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (UCSIRF); His Excellency President John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana; Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities, UK; Baroness Berridge, Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom or Belief; and Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, the Attorney General, UK.

The organizers say they expect to add more speakers in the coming days representing several other faith groups.

Mahmood Rafiq, one of the senior organizers for this historical event, confirmed in an email that a large number of international delegates are coming to the conference.

“All of the major religious of the world will be represented [at the conference]”, Mahmood Rafiq further confirmed. “We have received a large number of messages of support from Faith groups as well as senior politicians.”

Mr Rafiq said the Conference also commemorates the historical “Conference of the World's Religions” that was held in Wembley Hall, London, 90 years ago. At that conference, in 1924, the then head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad (1889-1965) had participated by traveling from Qadian, India.

The organizers believe that faith can provide 'a compelling, cohesive and comprehensive mandate for peace which the world so desperately needs.'

“The conference will provide a unique platform for international faith leaders to bring to the fore the distinctive contribution that faith can make,” the organizers wrote.

The venue of the conference, Guildhall, has an interesting history, particularly relating to Gog and Magog, the organizers have pointed out.

The two names, Gog and Magog, appear in various religious scriptures and have attracted particular attention due to their prophetic descriptions of conflicts said to occur near the "end times".

Legend has it, Wikipedia says, that the two giants were eventually defeated and chained to the gates on the site of Guildhall.

-- Follow Imran Jattala on Twitter: @IJattala

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