Ahmadiyya Muslims: British convention of a religious minority persecuted abroad spreads a message of love and peace

More than 30,000 Ahmadis listened to their caliph preach the ‘true teachings of Islam’

Social Affairs Editor

The rise of Isis has raised the threat of terror in the UK and led to a summer of negative headlines about Islam – even pushing leading British imams to call for a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from joining the terror group.

But in a field in Hampshire on Sunday, more than 30,000 Muslims gathered to celebrate a very different face of their religion.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose motto is “love for all, hatred for none”, gathered in a specially created tented village for the largest Muslim convention in Britain. Their message was simple: peace, not jihad, is the true meaning of Islam.

Sunday was the final day of the Jalsa Salana (annual convention in Urdu). The three day event attracted Muslims from more than 80 countries around the world, who met to reaffirm their commitment to Ahmadi ideals of non-violence, neighbourliness and charity.

Jamal Akbar, 34, was among those volunteering at the event. He works in investment banking IT and coordinates Ahmadiyya charity programmes in his spare time. “I am very frustrated at other Muslims who portray this negative view of Islam because it’s not Islam they’re portraying,” he said.

READ MORE: Cameron could ban UK fighters in Syria returning home
Fallon defends action against ‘real’ terrorist threats

“There’s so much love and peace in the atmosphere here ... I hope non-Muslims and Muslims alike will see the message that we’re portraying, that this is what Islam is all about.”

The current leader, or caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, led tens of thousands of worshippers in Sunday’s pledge ceremony. Known as Bai’at, it involves followers pledging to keep to 10 main promises of the faith, including to pray regularly, not be overtaken by extremes of passion and be humble and cheerful. The proceedings were transmitted to a potential audience of 80 million Muslims worldwide.

Preaching earlier in the weekend, he said: “Terrorists who seek to justify their hateful acts in Islam’s name can only be condemned. They are motivated by a selfish desire to fulfil their own personal interests and ambitions ... ignorant of the true teachings of Islam – of peace and tolerance.”

Ahmadiyya Muslims are not accepted in some countries, which is part of the reason the annual international convention is held in the UK and attracts so many worshippers from overseas. In Pakistan, for example,  Ahmadis are a persecuted minority and the state refuses to acknowledge them as Muslims because they do not recognise Muhammad as the final prophet.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent