On Saturday January 25th 2020, Linda Sheppard, Stake Relief Society President and Sister Marijah Butcher of the Watford Stake were invited to attend the 11th Annual National Peace Symposium organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association (UK), held at the Baitul Futuh Mosque (Britain’s largest Mosque) in Morden, Surrey.
This annual flagship event is attended by ladies from across the UK including parliamentarians, diplomats, faith and civic leaders, and representatives of numerous charities and faith communities. It promotes a deeper understanding of Islam and other faiths and seeks to inspire lasting peace.
Women speakers from various walks of life and faith addressed the theme ‘Securing Societal Peace – the Contribution of Women’.
Professor Karen Sanders (St Mary’s University) highlighted the importance of promoting peace, of enhancing our communication skills, being good listeners as well as speakers. She said: “God is the great communicator through prophets, scriptures and all of us.”
Alice Coulibaly of Peace Direct, an international charity supporting local people’s role stopping war and building peace in ‘fragile’ countries, has witnessed that in areas of conflict around the world women are courageous and bring people together, setting aside their own fear and pain. She said: “We can all be peace builders and mediate tensions.”
Lieutenant Commander Suzanne Lynch of the Royal Navy said that women create an atmosphere of relaxation and family in areas of conflict.
Shoshana Stewart, CEO of the Turquoise Mountain Project, a charity set up by the Prince of Wales to rebuild Kabul, observed that women are ambassadors of culture. Her remit in rebuilding Kabul was not only to provide basic shelter but to restore buildings and encourage the regeneration of traditional craftsmanship, to beautify the urban environment and drive economic growth. She said that as we do this, we create a sense of pride and bind societies together.
The keynote speaker was Dr Fariha Khan, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association. She reminded those attending of the purpose of the Association: to help women serve God, their community and nation.
She said: “We need inner peace, peace in our homes and peace in the world. Peace at home will reflect in our communities. Women are the architects of peace. The key for progress lies within mothers. God is the source of all peace. We need to come together and help each other.”
Sisters Sheppard and Butcher were warmly welcomed and found many areas of common purpose. They felt very privileged to have attended such an inspiring evening and now have a greater understanding and appreciation of this Muslim Women’s organisation, and the role of women in promoting peace. They are planning to keep in contact with the new friends they made during the event.
This invitation came from personal connections built with the local community by Watford Stake, and the LDS Charities Friendship Centre in Wembley meeting house.