Scott Hamilton, member of the legislative assembly, Delta North, moderated the event and noted how the five faiths represented have much in common with their diverse scriptures.
A tilawat (recitation) from the Qur’an was given by Usman Malik, followed by his translation in English.
Mahant Purshottam Das brought greetings from the Hindu temple and spoke of questions that arise in the minds of believers, such as “What am I doing here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” Hindus are reminded that those who “find themselves” do so by helping others. He reminded listeners that we all come from the same particle of light, and we all have that same light inside ourselves.
Representing the oldest Sikh society in North America, Gyani Harminder Pal Singh explained that “Sikh” means “student” and Sikhism revolves around Guru Nanak, who taught there is only one immortal God and Creator, who is the “light” in all His creations. Mr. Singh reminded the audience that service to society is service to God, and it is actions that count, not just words.
Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, from a local Jewish community, recounted the story of the Tower of Babel from the book of Genesis. She said part of the wisdom in that story is that together we can reach heavenly goals, but because some tension exists between ethnic communities, unity will take some work. She feels that religious communities can lead with tolerance, welcoming and compromise.
Mormon Bishop John Roeder quoted the Church’s eleventh article of faith and added, “We need the freedom to share our faith and want to be free to live our faith.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that, unlike our physical birth, “being born again” is a process, not an event, and engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality. “Belief without action is meaningless,” said Bishop Roeder, adding, “We are accountable to God for our choices in this life. We need to build bridges [with other faiths] instead of walls, and as religious communities, we need to listen to each other and find common ground.”
Ahmadiyyan spiritual leader Imam Taha Syed reminded everyone that God really is there and listens and that Ahmadiyyans recognize the value of all faiths — that we must have faith in something because we have evidence that it works. The imam shared a thought that when there is no concept of God, a vacuum is created and then filled with ego. He said we must work together to protect our religions and reflect peace in all levels of society.
Mr. Naeem Lakhan, president of the Greater Vancouver Chapter of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, thanked everyone involved in the conference, following which all in attendance were asked to join in a silent closing prayer.
The conference concluded with dinner provided by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at community.