By Mirza Mahmood Ahmad
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Dayton recently took a bold step in organizing a conference in the University of Dayton this year on April 8th. The theme of the conference was Muhammad the Messenger of Peace.
This University was built by the Catholics more than 150 years ago in 1850. The University has an international flavor, because one can see the students there from all corners of the world. There are many students from the Middle East and Indo Pak subcontinent as well.
The preparation of the conference started sometimes during the month of February.
A few days before the conference, the Dayton Daily News published the news with detail.
Our Keynote speaker was Brother Hasan Hakeem, the National Tabligh Secretary.
Honorable Walter Herbert Rice, the Judge of the United States District Court was the special guest invited for this conference. Another prominent guest was the Dayton Police Director and Chief, Richard S. Belhi, who came with seven other police officers.
They and some other guests addressed the conference at the end and praised the Jamaat for its services to the mankind.
There were two senior pastors of two different churches also. The total number of the participants of the conference were a little over one hundred and guests from all walks of life were more than fifty.
At the end there was Question/Answer session. Many interesting questions were asked which were answered beautifully by the panel. One of the question was ‘What is the difference between the other Muslims and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’.
After the conference some prominent guests were given the gifts of some important books of the community including the book of the Khalifa tul Masieh the V, the “World Crises and the Path way to The world Peace”.
Finally the guests were requested to proceed to the refreshments and the exhibition on the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and the Holy Quran and the free books arranged outside the conference hall.
The guests while enjoying the refreshment were getting the free books and looking at the charts displayed and asking the questions on different topics. Muslim students from different countries asked many questions. Our Jamaat members helped them with the answers very patiently.
The following Friday, a student from Saudi Arabia attend our service and liked our community very much and asked many important questions.
One more guest and our long time community friend who is often attending our Friday services and other programs and also attended our last year’s Jalsa Salana, brought two more guests with him. I want to share his email which he sent us a few days after the conference. He writes:
I want to share with you how profoundly inspirational and informative was “Muhammad – Messenger of Peace” at the University of Dayton. My friends from Kenya, Simon and Jestimore, felt like they had touched the beauty of Islam through the Ahmadiyya community. They are still talking about the convention today to the leadership of the seminary community and their peers. I am not sure if I told you, but my Kenyan brothers have designed independent studies in Islam this semester at Earlham School of Religion – the first to do so at the school. And, as you know, I have designed my own in Islam at Bethany Theological Seminary (the first to do at this school), which is the sister school to Earlham School of Religion. (both in Indiana)
Simon and Jestimore are hoping to go back to Kenya (or wherever they are in the world) and work to create peace and community between Christians and Muslims, who are often in tension and hostility with each other in Eastern Africa. Their goal is to immerse themselves in Islam while here in the states, and to find creative ways to bring people of both traditions in Kenya and the surrounding area around the same table in friendship and understanding. The conference in Dayton has inspired them more than ever to work for peace between African Muslims and Christians.