BRITAIN’S biggest annual Islamic gathering takes place this weekend at East Worldham, near Alton, when 35,000 Muslims will renew a century-old pledge to renounce violence.
With the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester still fresh in their minds, a wordwide community of Muslims is taking a stand.
Tens of thousands of Ahmadiyya Muslims will be gathering in a field at Hadeeqatul Mahdi (formerly Oaklands Farm) on the B3004 Alton to Kingsley road, to take a pledge of peace and loyalty. They will form a human chain which will be televised live around the world so that a virtual global chain of Ahmadiyya Muslims unite to reaffirm their commitment against violence.
At this, the 51st annual convention (jalsa salana) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the worldwide head, or caliph, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, will urge Muslims to follow the true teachings of Islam.
He said: “The only thing the terrorists are achieving is to completely violate the teachings of the Holy Quran and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Let it be clear that they are not practising Islam, rather it seems as though they have invented their own hate-filled and poisonous religion.”
Rafiq Hayat, UK president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, said Ahmadi Muslims were united with all those who stood for peace, humanity and justice.
He added: “We are entrusted to spread the true message of Islam as a religion of peace and of salvation and to counter divisiveness and extremism. There is no compulsion in religion and a fundamental aspect of Islamic belief is that people are free to choose their path in life. Therefore, extremism is completely contrary to the very core of our belief.
“The reality is that much of the conflict we see today is politically motivated but is promoted under the guise of religion by extremists with their own vested interests. It is vital that Muslims do not allow the pristine purity of our faith to be sullied by the atrocities perpetrated in the name of this religion of peace.
“The annual convention will provide a unique platform for us to promote this message from Hampshire to the rest of the world.”
n The three-day jalsa salana, which runs from July 28-30 and motorists should expect delays.
Peak times are expected to be during arrival times – from 10am-2pm on Friday and 9am-11am on Saturday and Sunday – and departure times from 6pm, but these will be staggered.
There will be greater emphasis this year on the number of vehicles entering the site and improvements to reduce congestion.
With traffic management and good neighbourly relationships a priority, as in previous years special arrangements have been made with the majority of car parking at Country Market in Kingsley, which will operate a park-and-ride service, with frequent bus shuttles operating to and from the convention site. Bus shuttles will also operate from Alton train station.
On-site parking will be mainly for disabled visitors and workers, and security will include tight management of vehicles entering and leaving the site, to keep traffic build up on the roads to a minimum.