Hundreds of women gathered to discuss the topic of ‘nurture today, protect tomorrow’ at the BaitulFutuh Mosque in Morden on Saturday 21st November.The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association welcomed 300 women, including 125 guests, to its 7th Annual Peace Symposium. The recent fire at the Baitul Futuh Mosque did not dampen spirits as guests were given tours of the exhibition, library and Mosque.The program itself began with the recitation from the Holy Quran, followed by an introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and a message from the Community’s Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, condemning the recent attacks in Paris.
The first guest speaker, Charlotte Hill, CEO of ‘Step up to Serve’, spoke of her organisation’s purpose to inspire youth into social action through volunteer work in the community. On this note, she commended the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.“I would like to say a huge thank you to your community… Thank you for the great leadership you are showing in helping young people step up.”Yvette Stanley, the Director of Children, Schools and Families for Merton then spoke about the importance of nurturing children especially in their teenage years. She gave a number of tips on how to celebrate young people’s achievements and build their self esteem.
The Honourable Mayor of Croydon Patricia Hay-Justice also addressed the attendees, remarking that it was her first visit to a mosque. Referring to the theme of the evening, she reminded the audience that “teach a woman and you will teach a community.”Farzana Yousuf, the National Secretary for Community Relations for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, thanked all the guests and spoke to them briefly about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and its message of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’. She reminded the gathering that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes in a separation of politics from religion. She described how the Community nurtures and guides its own young people, starting with prayer and then guidance towards becoming valuable and law abiding British citizens.
A message from the Dean of Salisbury was also read out with prayers for all the attendees and their families.Remarks by Councillor Maxi Martin and MP Siobhain McDonagh ended the formal proceedings, with both recalling long associations with the Community and its Women’s Association.A lively Question and Answer session was followed by a vote of thanks before dinner, from the Ahmadiyya Women’s Association Vice President, Safiyyah Salam who requested the attendees to remember the bereaved in Paris attacks along with all those who have suffered in other atrocities over the last few days.The evening was enjoyed by all attendees, who expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to visit the mosque.
Vicky Soobrayen of Putney stated, “I have wanted to come here for a while. (The mosque) was beautiful. Education is the key. Everyone’s message had the same focal point. The open Question and Answer session was fantastic.”Councillor Maxi Martin, a long-time friend of the community with close associations with many of its members, said. “It was a most enjoyable evening spending time with our friends. It breaks down barriers chatting and have dinner together. You start to chat saying the things you really want to say. It is always a joy to come. The food is always wonderful….a lovely social occasion with a deep meaning”.Ms Hill commented after the event that she was “blown away! Everyone was very welcoming. It’s been fantastic. If only the rest of the world could see this. This is what Islam is about.”