A Muslim organization will once again present a World Religions Conference in Hay River.
It will be the fourth year that the Calgary branch of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada will stage the event either in Hay River or on the Hay River Reserve.
Bashir Islam, a volunteer with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, was in Hay River on Aug. 19 to organize the interfaith conference, which is set for Sept. 16.
“The objective of these events is to let the people know that these different philosophies, theologies, religions can get together and have a meaningful exchange of ideas without fighting,” said Islam. “We all love peace and we all promote peace, but for some reason what people get to see through media, through newspapers, through whatever they consume is that we are the source of problems. We want to dispel this myth and we want to show everybody that we are part of the solution.”
As of Aug. 19, two speakers had been confirmed for the conference.
One will be Imam Asif Arif from a mosque in Calgary.
Another speaker will be Father Innocent Ukaegbu of Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic Church.
Islam is also hoping to get a speaker from another Christian church in Hay River, along with a representative from K’atlodeeche First Nation.
The topic for this year’s conference is ‘Universal Compassion: The Core Human Value’.
“I think one thing the world needs at the moment is universal compassion,” said Islam, noting that some people – for their own petty gains – have forgotten the gift of compassion given by the maker to every living being.
The conference format features addresses by panellists, followed by questions from the audience.
The World Religions Conference will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 in the Rec Centre’s Multipurpose Room.
“I think it’s a little bit more convenient for people in town to participate,” said Islam of the location.
Last year, the conference was held on the Hay River Reserve, which will be involved this year with a barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Sept. 16 at the Chief Lamalice Complex.
Along with Hay River, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada will host a World Religions Conference in Yellowknife on Sept. 15. It will be the 12th such conference in the NWT capital.
Islam said it is hoped that Fort Smith will be added to the tour next year.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada is part of an international organization founded in India in 1889 and now with chapters in 97 countries.
The World Religions Conferences began 122 years ago in India.
They have been held around Alberta for over 30 years.