Whilst mourning Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8, representatives of various faiths and religions reflected on her inclusive legacy.
In an awe-inspiring address given at Lambeth Palace in 2012, the Queen redefined the Church of England when she said: “The concept of our established church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated. “Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. The Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.” At least 8.7% of the UK practise a religion other than Christianity, according to the 2011 census. Recognising her role as Sovereign leader, the Queen continually proved her commitment to a country which celebrates a diversity of faith with frequent visits to commonwealth countries and their religious leaders.
Commenting on the Queen’s impact to the Muslim community, Mahmood Rafiq, the head of external relations for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the Baitul Futuh mosque, said: “because of her openness and generosity our community was able to seek refuge in the UK from the persecution we face in Pakistan on grounds of faith. “She was Defender of the Faith and always made clear that her desire for religious freedom was not just for one religion but for people of all faiths and none.” Commemorating the Queen, the Baitul Futuh Mosque hosted 1,000 attendees at a special remembrance day on Wednesday 14 September.
Here, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmaddiya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said: “The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a truly great loss for the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. “Ahmadi Muslims will remain forever grateful for the way Her Majesty served her people with immense dignity, grace and unwavering dedication throughout her long reign.” In the Queen and Prince Phillip’s visit to Lambeth Palace, during her diamond jubilee celebrations, they embraced different religions by congregating leaders from Christian, Baha’I, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities. Dr Ramesh Mehta, a representative from Jain Samaj Europe, an organisation which attended the event, said: “She wanted different cultures to amalgamate and learn from each other. I hope that what she has laid down continues to flourish in coming years.”
He also commented on the fond memories that the Jain community had of her visit to Kenya with Prince Phillip and her warm welcoming of their faith. In his recent statement regarding the death of the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Her Late Majesty found great joy and fulfilment in the service of her people and her God.”