By Shah A Siddiqui
This was a second annual interfaith iftar & dinner during the holy month of Ramadan organized by the Ahmadyya Muslim community on July 26,2014 but it was first for me to attend such a well arranged interfaith iftar. A week ago I experienced to attend the same kind of interfaith iftar & dinner, which was organized by Dr. Basheer Ahmed who is the founder of IQRA. This form of interfaith congregation gives us a cool spirit of ‘hope’ that these minor steps will bring in the masses of different faith a harmony and peace in this beautiful universe.
I feel good when I see any community program starts and end on time, unfortunately not all community’s social programs start or end up on time, but I will give credit and appreciation to Mike Ghouse, who is very strict about all his events to start and finish according to schedule, and now I am glad to see that this Interfaith program organized by the Ahmadyya Muslim community was started on time and ended up on time. Punctuality of time of any event shows the seriousness, interest and dedication of the organizers and the people with the agenda.
I saw Dr. Jari Khan and his dedicated team members who were busy to arrange and start the program according to schedule. The environment was like a picnic spot in the large backyard ground of the mosque. One side the young boys were busy to make Chicken tikka BBQ and the other team of youngsters were busy to arrange tables and chairs for the guests. A big white tent was also beautifully erected for the ladies and minors.
Dr. Jari Khan was moderator of the program in the prayer hall. A large number of guests from all other factions were present in the hall to show their brotherhood and harmonious relationship with the Ahmadyya community on this beautiful evening ofSaturday. Beside a great number of Ahmadyya community members, there were Hindus, Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims.
Mr. Tahir Abdullah, recited from the Holy Quran at the start of the program. A very warm welcome short speech was delivered by Mr. Suhail Kausar, who is the President of the Ahmadyya Muslim Community, Dallas. The Chief Guest was Rev.Annelda J Crawford, Senior Pastor of Pleasant mound –Urban Park United Methodist Church. Professor Sreekumar Bhaskaran of Cox School of business at SMU was a keynote speaker at the event. The Regional Missionary of Ahmadyya Muslim Community Imam Mubasher Ahmad focused on the tolerance, humanity and emphasized on the good relationship among all the followers of different faiths. At that meeting were few local guests who also spoke and focused on humanity, brotherhood, tolerance and harmony among the different sects. Among the speakers Dr. Basheer Ahmad, who is a community activist, philanthropist and the founder of IQRA (Institute of Quranic knowledge and Interfaith Religious Acceptance) appreciated this congregation and focused briefly about his IQRA’s manifesto and efficiency after its creation. Shah Siddiqui, a prominent columnist/critique writer and a free lance journalist associated with the weekly Pakistan Abroad and Urdu Times was also invited to say a few words. The CEO/Owner of Radio Hot Pepper AM 1220 Mr. Parvez Malik was also present among the local dignitaries and spoke about his positive life experience with different ethnic and religious community members and appreciated the efforts of the Ahmadyya Muslim Community to bring the different faith at the platform of love and humanity.
At the conclusion of the program before the iftar and Maghrib prayer all the audience observed a silent prayer.
I understand the philosophy and aim of such interfaith get together and fortunately, in the United States, we are united and living in harmony and affection with every religion. We do not care if the person to whom I am talking to or hanging around with is a Hindu, Christian, Jew,Ahmady,Shia or Sunni. It could be the reason that we are a human being and luckily, we are living in a country where there is religious freedom, and the rules of law are working equally for every citizen, so everyone is comfortable to live their lives. We need to express this harmony and sectarian peace in back home where due to hatred and lack of knowledge the Muslims are killing their own fellow citizens who belongs to the minority. Our illiterate Mullahs, who preaches hatred against the minority community of the country like Shia, Ahmady, Hindu and Christian are being targeted and killed everywhere in Pakistan. The violent death of any member of a minority community is a violation against the teaching of Quran and against the teaching of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). Unfortunately, Pakistan is a socalled Islamic country and 90% population is Muslim. Despite 5 times of prayer in the every corner of each Mohallah the cruelty, inhumanity, robbery,adultery, child molesting and killings are sky rocketing and peoples lives are not safe. Alas, the people of Pakistan could understand that what is the teaching of Islam and what Allah has clearly mentioned in the Holy book Quran. Unfortunately the illiterate people of villages where there is no education the masses are compelled to follow their uneducated ’Jahil’ Mullahs.
It is a good gesture of each organization who organizes such event and provides an opportunity to meet, greet and understand each other. We cannot do the same in our country, we cannot even write a single word in favour of Ahmadys or any other minorities, if the culprit Mullah comes to know, then right away a decree (fatwa) will be issued against the person and hundred of murderers will come forward to get the lead to slaughter the person in the name of ‘blasphemy’, so that they could enjoy in the heaven with ‘Hoors’after the day of judgement. What an utterly terrifying thought.
I was told that in this Interfaith Iftar and dinner the different variety of foods were prepared by the youngsters of the Ahmadyy community. The caliber of food was excellent and yummy. I saw the young boys were busy in the preparation of chicken BBQ in the open air where the heat was close to 100 degrees that day. The youngsters prepared chicken BBQ turned out like a professional’s recipe. These boys deserve special thanks.
I would say,it was a very successful event comprising of about 200 men, women and children who attended the congregation and definitely credit goes to all the members of the Ahmadyya Muslim community and core members who arranged and organized such a successful event. Dr. Jari Khan, as General Secretary and an active member of the Ahmadyya community should work more with their enthusiastic volunteers to bring more people from non-Ahmady community. I hope he will take care of the next congregation and will make this kind of event more successful.
Shah A Siddiqui, is a free lance journalist, columnist/Critique Writer, former Chairman of Pak Watan TV in Chicago,IL. A social worker, founder and President of ‘Al-Alam Heart & Soul Connection Inc. www.alalamheart.org