ALBANY — A local organization supporting a nationwide “Muslims for Peace” campaign will be hosting the In Pursuit of World Peace and Harmony Interfaith Symposium today at the Hindu Community Center in Albany.
The symposium brings together leaders from six different faiths to forward the cause of peace between religions and to demonstrate to the community that not all Muslims are extremists associated with terrorism.
“This campaign is a message to extremists who wish to hijack Islam,” said Sahim Khan, a media representative for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Albany Chapter. “We say to them to either behave peacefully or accept that whatever you represent, you do not represent Islam.”
The campaign, which is being advertised on Capital District Transportation Authority buses, is part of a nationwide effort to denounce extremism and terrorism and promote the true guiding principles, including peace, loyalty to one’s country and justice for all.
The symposium, sponsored by AMC and the Hindu Temple Society of the Capital District, features speakers from the faiths of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. Each speaker will describe the faith and their perspective on global events, followed by a Q&A session.
“We stand before all our fellow citizens and reassure them that Muslims are in fact for peace,” said Khan.
The local chapter of AMC, based out of Rotterdam Junction, formed last year and since then has hosted a number of interfaith events. On Jan. 9, the group held a similar event in Saratoga Springs. Joined by the Saratoga Peace Alliance, the Kairos Community, Temple Sinai and the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church, the group hosted an informational session to explain and answer questions about the basic values of Islam.
Today’s symposium features the following speakers: Monshin Namoon, spiritual head of Jiunzan Tendai-ji is Abbott; Barbara DiTomasso, director of the Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany; Rabbi Yaakov Kellman, executive director of the Jewish Educational Resources of New York; Jyoti Swaminathan, teacher of Hindu philosophy at the Hindu Temple; Jagmohan Singh Chahal, president of the Sikh Community of the Capital District; and Naseem Mahdi, national vice president of the AMC.
The “Muslims for Peace” campaign, with their slogan “love for all, hatred for none,” condemns terrorism and believes in loyalty to one’s country, the separation of religion and government and human rights for all. With 70 chapters nationwide, AMC was founded in 1920 stateside as the first American-Muslim organization. Khan said Mahdi is currently traveling around the country to promote the “Muslims for Peace” campaign.
The symposium is free and open to the public. It begins at 3 p.m. with programs through 6 p.m., followed by a free vegetarian dinner at the Hindu Community Center at 450 Albany Shaker Road in Albany.