by Kamran Khan
If there’s one great thing about our nation [United States], it’s our ability to live free, practice our principles as taught by religion, which is in line with what we learn in the Holy Quran [2:257], that is, “There should be no compulsion in religion”.
On Thursday November 28th, hundreds of thousands of Muslims celebrated Thanksgiving – I was one of them. In fact, I took it one step further, I celebrated Thanksgiving twice, the second time just a few days earlier with people of different faith, creed, and color. The food was great, and the company was even better. How many around the globe can attest to such liberty? Perhaps not many.
True worship is that which is accepted, and is when one also looks after the rights of others, another commandment of True Islam.
This beautiful teaching and quality can be manifested by any individual, and in turn, reflected as
a shining light when practicing tolerance and mutual respect towards all mankind. During our Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner held on Saturday, November 23rd, I along with members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Greater Chicago, demonstrated these great qualities and followed the true teachings of Islam by breaking bread with people of all faith. With over 150 in attendance at the Baitul Jamey Mosque, located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, men, women, and children of our community welcomed guests representing different faiths: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, Sikhism, and Islam. Additionally, guests representing both democratic and republican political interests, along with guests from law enforcement and homeland security were in presence. In essence, all the people of greater Chicago are our neighbors and it is our religious obligation to treat them with love, kindness and generosity.
Guests expressed gratitude to each other and to the members of our community for creating a platform of openness and by welcoming them to speak on the “Spirit of Thanksgiving” as practiced in their faith. Guests expressed that by having this dialogue, we can dispel hatred in this world, and exercise religious tolerance.
In his many addresses, including this year’s Peace Symposium held in London (UK), His Holiness – Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (May Allah be his Helper) – shared references from the Holy Quran and from the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam (Peace be on him) on how to be compassionate towards one another. In this address, His Holiness stated “…faith demands us to try and urge people, in all parts of the world, whether rich or poor, whether powerful or oppressed, whether religious or irreligious, towards peace and justice. Hence, we will continue to play our role in making mankind realize its duty towards respecting and honoring basic human values”.
During a reception in South Virginia in November 2018, His Holiness also stated “…the fact that you are joining us at this Islamic religious event, even though most of you are not Muslims, reflects your open-mindedness and it is because of your tolerant nature that you are able to successfully absorb and integrate new communities into the local society.” Hence, Islam’s teachings unite mankind and foster a spirit of mutual love and respect between all people, irrespective of racial, religious or social backgrounds. It is a religion that breaks down barriers and encourages peaceful and tolerant dialogue. We are grateful that God Almighty gave us the opportunity to bridge the gap, and we pray God enables us all to play our respective roles in bringing an end to the conflicts that have plagued the world and to eradicate all forms of injustice and intolerance.