Ahmadiyya Muslims Set Interfaith Seminar

May 24, 2008

Author: Jay Tokasz

Source: The Buffalo News


Like most Muslims, they pray regularly, practice the five pillars of Islam and believe the Quran is the word of Allah revealed through a prophet named Muhammad.

But Ahmadiyya Muslims also believe in a person they call the Mahdi, or “guided one,” the promised messiah who lived in the Punjab region of India from 1835 to 1908. And they elect a khalifa, or leader, as a successor to the founder.

Those differences have caused Ahmadis to be persecuted in some predominantly Muslim countries.

Locally, they maintain a profile larger than their numbers would suggest — mostly through an interfaith seminar series that regularly draws a diverse mix of religious thinkers to discuss topics such as life after death and how science and religion can co-exist.

About 80 Ahmadiyya Muslims reside in Western New York, according to Dr. Nasir Khan, a leader in the local Ahmadiyya community.

They will host another seminar Sunday, only this one will be a celebration of their faith — a spiritual marking of the 100th anniversary of the death of founder Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and of the “continuous leadership” by a succession of khalifas since then.

The local interfaith symposiums have attracted 50 to 125 people per session, inside rented space at the Millenium Hotel in Cheektowaga.

For Ahmadis, the sessions are a low-key method of introducing themselves to the larger community. Ahmadis aren’t aggressive proselytizers; they prefer a more academic style of sharing their beliefs — some of which are radically different from mainstream Islam and Christianity.

See also: Interfaith, Islam, Civic