The city of Allen will be at the epicenter of the interfaith movement this week as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Auxiliary of Dallas will be hosting its annual convention on Sunday. The dialogue, which has been running on an annual basis for 17 years, is expected to draw upward of 200 women from across the entire spectrum of faith.
The Interfaith tradition has been a part of the fabric of Allen since the Bait-ul-Ikram Mosque was built in 2002.
According to Ismat Mahmood, the secretary of Interfaith, the objective is clear: open a dialogue and break down the barriers of stigma and bigotry.
“The goal of our entire initiative is to create a bond of fellowship in our community. We want to bring people together to learn about the Muslim faith and to respect all faiths,” Mahmood said.
Since being built in 2002, at the height of anti-Muslim rhetoric, the relationship between Muslims and the rest of the community has steadily improved. Although there are still glaring instances of bigotry in the everyday lives of Muslims, Mahmood contests that since she has started the interfaith dialogue the situation has made progress.
“I would say the relationship continues to improve, and that is what our organization tries to do,” Mahmood said. “Every year we have seen our numbers pick up, and we have a lot more people want to come and learn rather than not to visit our mosque. Our doors are always open.”
The Allen community is predominantly Christian. The demographics of the city hover around 83 percent Christian, making the interfaith movement that much more important. The Interfaith event, being hosted at the Allen ISD Events Center, will have attendees from the Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Bhige and Muslim traditions.
“We are excited to have three speakers on Sunday. There will be a Hindu speaker, a Christian speaker from the United Methodist Church and a Muslim speaker. Due to the abbreviated time of preparation, with our mosque being under construction, we could only get three speakers for this year’s event,” Mahmood said.
Although the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Auxiliary of Dallas is hosting the event, the Interfaith initiative is specifically part of the larger world community of the organization.
“Our community spans 207 countries, and we are now all across America. We all try to build bridges and create a peaceful community. We started in 1889 in India and have stressed justice and service to humanity,” Mahmood said.
The event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Allen ISD Distribution Center, 1451 N. Watters Road in Allen.