Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture October 12th 2021

This year the lecture was shared vi Zoom, and about 36 of us were privileged to hear Imam Mohammad Ahmad Khurshid from the Ahmadiyya community talk about “World Crisis and Pathway to Peace: An Islamic Perspective.” Altrincham Interfaith Group Vice-Chair Elinor Chohan introduced the speaker who is Iman at the Darul Aman Mosque in Hulme, Manchester. The Imam explained that there is a dire need for peace in the world for, for though technology can bring us together in an instant, we have never been further apart. Thanks to social media, all the poverty and displacement in the world has been brought to light, while a report written in 2000 says 1% of the population own 40% of all the assets in the world; the 3 richest people own more financial assets than poorest 48 nations combined. This is a world crisis. How can faith, and in particular Islam, play a role in establishing peace in the world?

Imam Khurshid explained how a Muslim must fulfil the rights of mankind if he wishes to fulfil the rights of God, by showing compassion and never acquiring wealth through deception and pointed out how greed and envy can be a cause for restlessness and the destruction of world peace. He also deplored the rise of racism and pointed out that all mankind is from Adam and Eve, and no one person has superiority over another. He cited many examples from the Koran in which compassion was shown, and how important it was to show kindness to kindred, for being disrespectful to parents is the greatest sin. We should help the poor and needy, those failed by society, without seeking any reward, and treat mankind as a mother treats her child without claiming favours in return. This is the pathway to peace, to serve those around us.

There was a lively discussion after his address, with many questions including the issue of free speech, which the Imam said should never cause pain or offence to people, instead one should engage with and respect others and other religions, and that we need inter-religious dialogue. When someone asked why God allows pain and suffering in the world, yet is all-powerful, the Imam replied we should not blame God for the actions of man. We could serve people better, feed the hungry, vaccinate the poor in Africa. This prompted a suggestion that we could write to our MP to urge the Government to send more vaccines to Africa and Elinor Chohan agreed to follow this up.

Father John Rafferty thanked Imam Khurshid for an interesting and stimulating talk and pointed out that, while we might not agree with other religions, we should walk with each other, listen to each other and be respectful. This is what Altrincham Interfaith Group strives to do. Elinor agreed and hoped that that we may engage with each other to make our community better, for we all have a common shared humanity.