World peace on agenda

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 08:41 19/10/2012
Unite
SIMON SMITH
BUILDING BRIDGES: Ahmadi Muslim Maulana Shafiq ur Rehman and Anglican vicar Bruce Keeley encourage the public to attend a peace conference this weekend. ‘‘Nothing can be lost by talking to each other, a great deal can be lost by not talking to each other,’’ Mr Keeley says.

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Religious leaders of different faiths will discuss how to achieve world peace tomorrow afternoon.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community hosts an annual peace conference that this year will be at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Pakuranga.

Members of the public are invited to attend and listen to Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Ahmadi speakers.

The community's national president Mohammad Iqbal says the world is in danger of plunging into chaos because of an imminent clash of cultures and people need to be accepting of one another to avoid conflicts.

"The need to establish the basic principles of justice and equality at this critical juncture in human history cannot be overestimated," he says.

"Religion as always has a central role to play in achieving these principles, and it is our duty to ensure that the purpose of religion is to spread peace, tolerance and understanding."

Bruce Keeley, vicar of All Saints Anglican Church in Howick, says relating across divisions is important to have a more respectful and peaceful community.

"I truly believe that a lot of the world's problems arise from prejudice, and prejudice arises from ignorance," he says.

"So if we are more informed, we will be less prejudiced, and that will make a better society."

Mr Keeley encourages Christians to attend.

"People might go away disagreeing with what they've heard but at least they have heard and not been told by somebody else."

Maulana Shafiq ur Rehman will speak on behalf of the Ahmadiyya community and says there are at least 160 million members of the sect worldwide.

Ahmadi Muslims are not recognised by mainstream Islam and are not allowed on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The sect differs from Sunni and Shia Islam in that when it was founded in 1889, its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claimed to be the awaited Messiah and guide.

Mr Rehman says this fulfilled various religions' prophecies of the second coming of the Messiah, being Mohammad, Jesus or Buddha.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in July laid the first stone in Manurewa of what will be New Zealand's biggest mosque.

The peace conference runs from 4pm to 7pm on October 20 at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Pakuranga and is followed by dinner. People wishing to attend can just turn up or RSVP for catering purposes to Eqbal Khan on 021 133 6146.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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