Love for All, Hatred For None – Lessons on Acceptance & Community from an Ahmadi Muslim

I spoke with Adeel, the youngest Imaam in the country who studied 7 years to qualify for this role. He has dedicated his life to his religion, making a huge commitment at a very young age. I find that slightly intimidating, considering most teenagers I knew had no idea what career to pursue. They seemed more concerned with dating and wild parties. Perhaps it’s the removal of these distractions that provided Adeel clarity on what role he would play in this life. Perhaps it was fear of what his fate may be in the next.

The start of our zoom meeting was, typically, interrupted by a robotic echo, so we decided on a good old fashioned phone call instead. My chunky zoom friendly earrings, were suddenly less appropriate.

For the brief moments I saw Adeel face to face, he appeared humble and attentive, smiling in his checked blazer. He proceeds to tell me about the Amadiyyah Muslim faith and all the incredible work they do for the community, barely coming up for air. You can tell he spends a lot of time talking to the public, spreading his important message “Love for all, hatred for none” – educating others about the teachings of his faith. He has probably had this conversation a million times over yet speaks with the enthusiasm of a young entrepreneur.

I asked what he does to relax and stay grounded, how he keeps his strength and energy so high and how he looks after himself to ensure he can look after others. Adeel explained that it is his passion for serving the community and bridging the gap between the British public and his faith that keeps him going. It’s a desirable call to provide a better world for everyone. He finds his work so rewarding, he explains “you forget about yourself; you forget about the tiredness and hard work. The motivation, seeing results, keeps me going”.

He was assigned to go on a trip to Ghana for 5 weeks, to appreciate the culture, people, and atmosphere. He explained he met people who had little to nothing, but they were so thankful for everything they did have. Good, humble people. Adeel explained that “Upon my return home, I had an increased appreciation for everything I have in life. There is little to no room for complaint”. A sentiment we would all do well to remember before adding another pair of shoes we don’t need to our online shopping cart. “My work is never a task; never a chore.”

He tells a story of when he studied in a catholic secondary school and studied alongside peers of multiple faiths. He explained during lunchtimes they would have debates, not to induce conflict but to educate themselves. “Because of this, I’ve always had compassion for other religions.” My conversations with Adeel at no point felt that he was forcing his religion on to me. He was not trying to achieve anything other than to provide insight, and discuss peace, love and understanding. Traits we would all benefit from, now more than ever.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims work is not limited to UK borders. They spread their message of love and unity worldwide. Adeel spoke of a programme called Reach a Muslim Family, being held in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia where members of the public can reach out to the programme to connect with a Muslim family. They visit their homes, sit down to enjoy a meal, discuss politics, football etc. It is this openness, this level of communication and understanding that creates change. It’s about seeing that your neighbour may look and live a different life to you, however, you share many of the same views and experiences. I asked if he was planning to run a similar campaign in the UK, he paused (I feel he understood the UK may not quite be ready for that, even post covid) but explained that 500-600 Muslims would go into central London wearing blue t-shirts with “I am a Muslim, ask me anything” written on the front. By providing a space for open, honest communication, he is continuing to build bridges and tackle misconceptions, misunderstandings and misconstrued propaganda pushed out by mainstream media. “Without tolerance, we fail to stand as a united society.”

He told a story of a man who approached him on his campaign with a hostile attitude, asking “Why are you here?” However, the man was open to dialogue. Adeel explained the work they do for the community, explained the teachings of his faith, and had a 10-minute chat which resulted in the man giving him a hug and openly admitting that was the first time he had spoken with a Muslim, despite living in London for 10 years.

You can never get everyone to agree with each other, live the same way or practice the same faith but it is this tolerance and understanding which contributes to peace. It can help end suffering and violence fuelled by hatred and fear. Adeel’s call to action for everyone is to promote love for all, and hatred for none.

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Published by Words of Integrity

Celebrating positivity and embracing the peaks and falls of life

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