AROUND 60 people from Swindon are joining the UK’s biggest annual Muslim convention aimed at tackling misconceptions and showing the true face of Islam.
The three-day event, Jalsa Salana, starts today at a farm in Alton, Hampshire.
Salman Muzaffar, a Muslim from Swindon said: “There are a lot of misconceptions about Islam, and we want to show the true face of Islam, and how peaceful it actually is. People think that we are terrorists which we are not.
“This convention is not about converting people to Islam, it is more about spirituality. Everyone is welcomed, including non-Muslims. We want to welcome everyone, and our motto is to love everyone despite their background.”
Approximately 35,000 people from more than 100 countries will pledge to follow the teachings of faith leader Caliph Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
The programme includes a display on the Holy Quran, where the first ever crowd-sourced copy will be on show and art exhibitions will feature work by sculptor Adam Williamson.
The group will raise the Union flag and the flag of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community as a mark of loyalty to Britain and their faith.
Tomorrow, the Caliph will address 15,000 people on women’s rights, followed by a prize giving for more than 50 women for excellence in academic achievements.
A spokesman for the Ahmadiyya community said: “Given the rise in Islamophobia – one in three people think Islam is incompatible with British values according to a survey by Hope Not Hate – I think such an event comes a timely moment. If people want to find out if Islam is a religion of peace or terror, we believe this is the place to be.
“We are expecting over 1,000 non-Muslims to attend. So, it creates a great opportunity for bridges to be built between communities. That is how we counter misunderstandings of each other by having a genuine and open, but respectful dialogue.”
Throughout the year, Salman goes on the streets of Swindon and the surrounding areas to raise awareness and breakdown the various misconceptions people tend to have in the UK.
Caliph Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said: “I pray for an end to the frustrations and deprivation that have plagued the lives of countless people and have fuelled devastating wars and grievances across the world.
“I pray that we show tolerance of each other’s beliefs and customs and value the diversity within our societies.
“I pray that we come to see the best in humanity and use each other’s strengths and skills to build a better world for our children and to cultivate lasting peace in society.”