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Love for All, Hatred for None

Centre View Southern Edition By Joey Jachowski
Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chantilly resident Shahid Malik was quite busy this weekend amidst lights, cameras, televisions, international guests and the bustle of crowds while directing the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA, 62nd Annual Convention.

He is the chairman of the organizing committee for the event which tried to bring forward "a special message — a message of peace and a message of faithfulness to your country."

Thousands converged in Chantilly for this traditional gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which has taken place annually for over 60 years in the United States and for over a 100 years worldwide. Held from July 16-18 at the Dulles Expo Center, the convention celebrated faith, peace and understanding while entertaining a host of guests from around the area and around the world.

Since the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community National Headquarters is in Silver Spring, Md., it was a natural choice to hold the national convention nearby. Danisch Malik, a recent graduate from Chantilly High School, was born into the Ahmadiyya community and volunteered to help make this year’s convention flow smoothly through public relations.

"My focus was to bridge the gap between the local law enforcement and fire departments," Danisch Malik said, "We got the master police officer and a fireman first class who will be showing up from a local police station here in Chantilly."
He was one of the volunteers involved with the convention. Whether it was helping with parking, security, registration, or set-up, volunteers were integral components of the convention.

Danisch Malik believes that it’s important to increase American exposure to a different idea of Islam. "We’re all about peace. You’ve seen in the media how a lot of Muslims are shown in a certain way, which is not what we believe in. We want to explain to the American public the right way Islam should be portrayed — not violent," he said.

ONE POINT of the conference was to emphasize national loyalty among the Ahmadiyya. The Ahmadiyya Muslims believes in loyalty to the country to which a citizen belongs. Shahid Malik said, "If I live here, this is my country and I should be loyal to this country."
These beliefs were echoed by many in the crowd as the audience reacted in cheers of approval and cries of "U.S.A." in response to declarations of American patriotism and statements in support of separation of church and state.
These messages were embraced by government representatives at the special session on Saturday, where guests from Fairfax County and Congress had the chance to speak.

"We consider our diversity one of our greatest assets," Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova said, welcoming the convention to Fairfax County. "I very much appreciate and admire your message of love, your message of peace and your message of building a community."

On the congressional level, U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly later appeared at the convention in a show of support for the Ahmadiyya community’s "tradition of tolerance, the tradition of separation of mosque and state, the tradition of involvement in and support for the community in which you live." He thanked the community for what they do for both the community and the United States as a whole, while hoping that "more of our fellow human beings will share in your tradition."

According to other speakers at the convention, the international Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, with origins in India, has developed a strong, but "silent" community since arriving in the United States in the last century. However, in recent years the community has been taking steps to communicate to Muslims and Americans alike its own unique Muslim beliefs summarized in the motto "Love for all, hatred for none," which was on a banner displayed at the convention.

NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT and Missionary-in-charge Naseem Mahdi shared what set the Ahmadiyya apart from other Muslim sects. Besides being the only sect that believes that the Messiah already arrived in the form of Mirza Ahmad in India in 1835, Mahdi focused on the relationship between Islam and government.

Mahdi clarified for all attendees how the Ahmadiyya Muslims interpret Islam and the Quran, their central religious text. Quoting the Quran, "Allah loves not disorder," and "Oh ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey His messenger and those who are in authority among you," Mahdi demonstrated that Islam is not about "jihad of the sword" or fighting non-Muslim governments. As the Holy Prophet Mohammed was quoted: "Love of your homeland, your place of residence, is a part of your faith."