Ahmadiyya’s imam calls for a common ground of peace, tolerance

The Jewish Chronicle: The Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pittsburgh is small — there are only about 150 members — but it is focused on a mission. As it condemns radicalization and extremism committed in the name of Islam, said Adnan Ahmed, the movement’s official imam in Pittsburgh, it aims to foster understanding among different faiths.

Last weekend, Ahmed assembled a panel of several local faith leaders at the Ahmadiyya mosque in Wilkinsburg to speak about the founding prophets of their respective religions and how those leaders promoted peace and tolerance. Presenters at the Feb. 28 program included Sanjay Mehta of the Hindu Jain Temple in Monroeville; Sucha Singh of the Pittsburgh Sikh Gurdwara in Monroeville; Pastor Rita Plat of the United Methodist Church of Wilkinsburg; and Rabbi James Gibson of Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill.

Gibson’s planned presentation was about Moses, he said in an interview prior to the event.

“I think we are looking for foundational commonalities,” Gibson said of the program. “Our job, as I see it, is to demystify each other, to break down the stereotypes provided in the media and to show that we have much in common from a faith perspective, even if we have differences politically. Our job is to remove the clouds and shrouds of misunderstanding. If I can help toward that goal, I am honored to do that.”

This was not the first time Ahmed has brought together community leaders from various faiths. Last year, during the month of Ramadan, he hosted a panel to speak on the various traditions of fasting among different religions.

The Ahmadiyya community, founded in 1889 as an offshoot of Sunni Islam, differs from more mainstream Islamic groups in that its adherents believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in India in 1835, was the messiah, and that he was sent by God to end religious wars, reinstitute morality, and condemn bloodshed. Many mainstream Muslims do not consider the Ahmadiyya movement to be a legitimate sect within Islam, and its adherents are frequently persecuted in the Muslim countries in which they live.

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