Tuesday 16 August 2016

Love for All

"Love thy neighbour as thyself" is a Christian (and Jewish) commandment that seems to have slipped off the tablet in recent years, (either that or there is a lot of self hate in the world).  "Love for all, hatred for none" is the mantra for the Ahmadi Muslim sect that seems to be alive and well.  How so?  I hear you ask, aren't Muslims all terrorists threatening the western way of life?

I'm a curious person by nature and anything I don't understand (or know much about) I do my best to investigate to enable me to make up my own mind about what it all means.  We are living in troubled times with war, refugees, Brexit, inequality and a total mistrust of politicians.  It was this curiosity that resulted in me spending a day in Hampshire at an event called Jalsa with 38,000 muslims from 90 countries.

A flag for each country with staunch flag bearers and a water feature promising to take the Ahmadiyya message to all corners of the world, was the central feature of the temporary village that was erected on this Hampshire farm for the three day religious festival.  The scale of this village is mind boggling. (More on this later.)

Among the many exhibitions that I visited was one of the artefacts and arts of the ancient world. A replica of the shroud of Turin with both owner of the shroud Pam Moon, and the world's leading expert on the shroud, Barry Schwortze, both present and more than happy to discuss everything that is known about the shroud (and you thought this was only in Christian texts). Other items included an ancient manuscript, ceramics, fabrics, and metalware.  Many pieces were from a private collection and are hundreds of years old.  It was fascinating to learn from looking at a 12th century book of the Quran that the text in black (in the centre) is the teachings of Islam, but the writing in red around the edges of the pages are the "thoughts" of scholars in later years.  Some of these "thoughts" have subsequently been referred to as authoritative Islamic texts.

The temporary village had its own TV and radio station, as well as dedicated areas for all the international media.  The Ahmadiyya women ran their own media network, which meant every job and function was carried out by women.  How does that suppressed muslim women mantra go again?  Well, however it goes it was all blown out of the water here.  They were a well oiled and skilled team. Not only did they work without a man in sight (other than those they were interviewing) but they also had their kids wander in and out as if this is a normal part of life.

As in any village there were the markets.  Food, stalls, clothing, jewellery, toys, everything you might want or need.  I was transported to many parts of the globe.  The common thread was the message of love not hate.  The man from this stall sold hats, t-shirts, and jewellery, most with messages of love and peace.

What happened to the hippies of the 60's and 70's who believed in these messages?  Remember John and Yoko? Why does this same generation now mistrust anyone who is different?  What happened to change all of this for the worse? I would like to hear what others think about this (yes you dear readers).

Once upon a time, a million years ago, I ran a business in the food industry, so I'm always interested in the behind the scenes work, (I promised you a few sentences ago we would look at the scale of things in this temporary village). Now just start thinking about feeding 38,000 people three times a day. At my request I was transported to the kitchens where I witnessed the manufacture of 100,000 breads made in one day! Not a cross word spoken, everyone working together ... probably a place that Gordon Ramsay would benefit from visiting!

However let's not forget the primary purpose of the three days.  It is a religious event where the head of the organisation Mirza Masroor Ahmad is sending out a message to the devotees.

Devotees are here to make a pledge to their principals and leader. They were told that "their duty is to give back to the country they live in and to integrate with their neighbours." The principles of the community is to built relationships, to give back, and to be involved in the community whatever the religious differences.

Whatever your beliefs, I cannot disagree with the fundamental message of the Ahmadi of "Love for all, and hatred for none." 


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Despite everything the newspapers are keen to have us believe, the world is becoming a more and more integrated place. Easier travel especially by air, increased economic interdependency, the threat of global warming, the internet....all ensue that the world is more interconected than ever. Huge cities like London are ethnically diverse to an extent that couldn't have been imagined 40 years ago (when I was there at uni). This transformation is taking place at astonishing speed and most people get on with their lives in some sort of rough harmony. For some this change is taking place at a speed which they cannot accept and for a very few this provokes them into violence. However this is not the general reaction. The event you attended, which I presume took place without any right wing counter-demonstrations or terrorist atrocities, just proves that, without wishing to sound too complacent, the world is not such a bad place.
Thanks for making me aware of the event. Only The Guardian of our national newspapers appears to have given it any coverage. I wonder why?

Adullamite said...

There are many varieties of Muslim in this world and the Ahmadi suffer badly from both Shia & Sunni.
Was it not an Ahmadi that was killed in Glasgow by a Sheffield Muslim?

Love your neighbour is a very old text and most people wish it to be.
True spiritual life goes deeper however.

This was an interesting post but now I am desperate for some of that bread!

William Kendall said...

That is something to be respected and built upon.

Unlike the vitriol coming from that insufferable egomaniac con artist to the south of these parts.

Unknown said...

My English parents became Ahmadi in 1971- I often say that rather than be hippies they became Muslims. In reply to your question perhaps had more people chosen this path then the mistrust of each other would not be as heightened as it is now.

Gunn said...

What a fantastic documentary you have made, both with the text and the images. You should have sold it to the newspapers. I have not seen anything about it on TV nor the papers here in Norway.
Well done to YOU for sharing this.

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