|Photo: AlIslam.Org. Scene from 2008 convention at Farm Show Complex|
Source/Credit: Lancaster Online
By Joan Kern | June 24, 2011
63rd annual convention begins Friday at Pa. Farm Show Complex & Expo Center
In 1889, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, of Qadian, India, founded the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, "the leading Islamic organization to categorically reject terrorism in any form."
"Instead of jihad of the sword, he called for jihad of the pen," said Saif Rahman, of Manheim, a member of the sect.
Rahman and his family worship at the Hadee Mosque in Harrisburg, with about 150 families, including one other family from Lancaster County.
The AMC USA, with the motto "Love for All, Hatred for None," will hold its 63rd annual convention at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, Harrisburg, at 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 1; 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2; and 11 a.m. Sunday, July 3.
The educational convention, organized entirely by volunteers, is free and open to the public. Complimentary meals will be served each day.
In honor of Independence Day, the theme will be "Freedom and Independence from American and Islamic Perspectives." Topics will focus on religious, social and contemporary issues.
For more information, call Akram Khalid, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania, at 404-4678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Rahman, 46, serves on the convention's organizing team. About 6,000 people are expected to attend.
He was born into an Ahmadi family near Lahore, Pakistan, where he was persecuted for his faith.
"Other than Americans, we are their prime target," he said. "We are their enemy, too."
Last year, he said, close to 100 people were killed in attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in the Punjab.
Members of the sect also are persecuted in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
"The radicals don't consider us Muslim because we don't believe in jihad."
Rahman came to this country in 1984 and received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from City University of New York.
In 2003, he moved to Lancaster County. He now works as a technology consultant for the New York Department of Education, commuting home on weekends. He has no intentions of leaving this area.
"We love it here. We have nothing but good things to say."
Rahman and his wife, Mubarka, who came here from Pakistan in 1987, have five children: daughters Maiza, 18, Saaniya, 14, and Zahra, 9; and sons Naveed, 15, and Labeeb, 6.
"Maiza was the only Muslim girl in her school. In 10th grade, over the summer, she decided to cover her head. At first everyone asked, 'Why? What? How long?' But after a few weeks things went back to normal."
Maiza, now a freshman at Elizabethtown College and preparing for law school, said she chose the head covering to put the "emphasis on modesty and chastity.
"It's one way to pursue a good education," she said. "I noticed I didn't have to worry so much about how I looked. It made life easier."
According to a press release, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the first American-Muslim organization, established in 1920.
The fast-growing international movement within Islam has close to 50 million members in about 190 countries worldwide.
Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed.
The community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace.
Rahman said members of the sect call the Taliban and al-Qaida "the Mafia."
"We write against them. Only recently we're getting noticed. It's a good thing. It's not only us but many other organizations are coming out because (the radicals) are giving a bad name to Islam.
"Thank God people are waking up. But there's a lot to do."
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