By: Blake Strayhorn, Executive Director
What an experience I had as I proudly represented Durham Habitat and our work building Interfaith partnerships at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's 2019 Jalsa Salena in Harrisburg, PA. Thank you, Durham Habitat partners, for creating and being a culture that embraces the values that led to this experience!
When I heard I was selected as one of two 2019 Humanitarian Award honorees by the Ahmadiyya Community, I was quite surprised, and to be honest, apprehensive. I didn't know all that the Community stood for, and I really don't like public speaking! But a personal mantra is to always go to Plateau Point, so I went. And I'm very glad I did. The hospitality was through the roof, I learned a lot about the Ahmadiyya Muslims, and I shared the stage with some incredibly impressive speakers (see list below).
The Ahmadiyya Community was founded to promote 'true Islam' values of "Love for All, Hatred for None." A key tenet is a strong commitment to provide humanitarian aid to those in need. Banners and pins throughout the conference proclaimed 'Love for All'. Respect for others was highly evident; one of the other speakers represented the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Jalsa Salana's are the formal annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Community. Jalsa Salana's are held annually around the world, and attendance tops 40,000 - 50,000 in Germany and India.
Most of all, I left the weekend feeling totally affirmed in my belief that we humans are much more alike than we are different, that we all benefit when we grow cross-cultural relationships, and that we should respect and value our differences, not fear them. Affirmed that building with Durham Habitat is a great way to put these ideas into action. Love for all, indeed!