30,000 Muslims arriving at East Worldham this weekend will be urged to redouble efforts to counter terrorism and extremism
The three-day Jalsa Salana at Oaklands Farm will mark the 50th annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Britain.
Delegates from 90 countries will pay tribute to Britain for the freedom it gives its citizens and they will pledge loyalty to their nation as a fundamental part of their faith.
The worldwide head – or Caliph – of the Ahmadiyya Muslims, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, will lead the convention with a rallying call to members to serve the country they live in and to work for peace at every level of society. Delegates will take a pledge – as they have done every year – reaffirming loyalty to their country of residence.
A tented village, rows upon rows of stalls, fluttering flags, tens of thousands of people and an organised programme of events provide all the hallmarks of a country festival but its focus on faith and fraternity and the scale of the convention sets this apart from other gatherings.
The Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community marks more than 100 years of the community in Britain and tells the story of a community in exile – persecuted in lands where extremists hold sway.
The convention comes at a time when there is growing unrest in the Muslim world and the fear of extremism is escalating.
His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said: “Islam enshrines the principles of universal religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Faith is, and always will be, a matter of the heart and so there should never be any form of compulsion in religion.
“Every Ahmadi Muslim, no matter where he lives, is loyal to his country. Indeed we pledge that we will never partake in any action through which our loyalty to our country could be questioned.
“As part of this loyalty we pray that may God release our nations from the clutches of the oppressive people.”
President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, Rafiq Hayat, said: “Many have fled persecution in other countries and together, they will re-affirm their pledge to follow the true teachings of Islam – that are teachings of peace – and to counter all forms of extremism and intolerance.”