Source: mycentraljersey.com | Saima Sheikh
On March 23, the Rutgers Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association held “Muhammad — Messenger of Peace” conference at the Rutgers University Student Center in New Brunswick.
EW BRUNSWICK – On March 23, the Rutgers Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association held “Muhammad — Messenger of Peace” conference at the Rutgers University Student Center.
This year, the theme focused on building bridges among faith communities by exploring the life of Prophet Muhammad, his ideologies and contrast them with the negative and misunderstood version portrayed in the media due to extremists actions carried out by ISIS and the like, in the name of Islam.
The event started at 6.30 p.m. with refreshments and a short video introducing the history of violent extremism in America, carried out by the likes of Timothy McVeigh, who were motivated by personal ideology and not driven by faith. Safwan Akbar moderated the program. Imam Azhar Haneef, national vice president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA addressed the audience with opening remarks. He commented on the fact that in this day and age, we often mix extremists and their political ideologies with Islam. However, the religion of Islam provides absolutely no foundation for supporting the actions of these extremists.
The second guest speaker for the evening was Tariq Sharif, local media spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Central Jersey chapter. Sharif focused on the life of Prophet Muhammad from recorded history and highlighted several incidents relating to matters of state affairs, his reaction towards slander, dissension and even personal abuse by his critics. His exposition brought out the benevolent and tolerant character of Prophet Muhammad.
Keynote speaker, Harris Zafar, national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and author of “Demystifying Islam” delivered his talk on the topic of apparent conflict between Islam and freedom of expression. Detailed in his analysis of current affairs including in the Muslim countries and Charlie Hebdo incident, Zafar pointed out the apparent ongoing conflict within Muslim communities driven by misrepresentation of true Islamic teaching of Prophet Muhammad for political gains.
The student center hall was packed with about 200 attendees includingstate Sen. Bob Smith, D-District 17, who delivered a brief address thanking the community to hold this event at the campus. He emphasized the need for faith communities to participate and engage in dialogue and the democratic process. The program concluded with a short question answer session presided by Imam Azhar Haneef and the panel. Mir Sharif Ahmad, president of Central New Jersey chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA closed the event thanking everyone.