The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association USA will hold its annual convention in Milwaukee this weekend. This will be the third time the group has held its annual meeting in the city.
A spokesperson for the group, Kashif Chaudhry, said the members are gathering to discuss ways to better serve their faith and their country. The event will include a series of lectures on those topics along with educational and sports competitions.
Included in the educational competitions are events including recitation and memorization of the Qur’an, impromptu speeches and poetry.
The convention will take place Friday through Sunday at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex. Chaudhry said more than 1,000 people are expected to attend.
In part, the convention is about exchanging ideas, according to Chaudhry. He said the group is at the forefront of educating Americans about Islam. The goal is to continue to do that and maintain the group’s other work. Chaudhry said in the last year the group collected close to 10,000 units of blood and fed close to 40,000 people across the country.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – the larger group that the youth association is part of – differs primarily from other branches of Islam in that the Ahmadiyya believe a man from India who lived in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was the second coming of the messiah. Chaudhry said that is the main theological split between Ahmadiyya and sects. He added that when it comes to the core teachings of the Qur’an, there is not much difference.
Chaudhry also said his group denounces terrorism and teaches pacivity. He said terrorists and radicals have twisted the Islamic faith.
“We feel our faith has been hijacked by these people,” Chaudhry said. “And we want it back.”
He said the group has undertaken national initiatives to educate people about peaceful aspects of Islam. In general, he said, people have been receptive to the group’s message and they are able to build interfaith relationships.