Thousands of Muslims pay tribute to Queen and say they’re ‘forever grateful’

Thousands of young British Muslims have gathered to pledge their allegiance and loyalty to Great Britain and pay tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II. Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community started preparing the National Ijtema, a three-day Islamic congregation, back in November. But plans were tweaked when Her Majesty died on Thursday afternoon following 70 historic years on the throne. Pictures show a special exhibition created in honour of the late monarch and attendees queueing to sign a book of condolence at the youth event on Sickles Lane in Hampshire.

Indoor and outdoor sports competitions had been planned alongside academic competitions but this has been cancelled as a mark of respect. Meanwhile, the flags of the four nations and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association flag have been flying at half-mast. The theme of the long weekend is ‘Honouring our Pledge’, with people invited to let their pride shine through in being both British and Muslim.

However, many of those who gathered also used the moment to honour Her Majesty, who a group leader said British Muslims are ‘forever grateful to’.  Those present also honoured King Charles III, who was proclaimed monarch in the first ever ceremony of its kind to be televised yesterday.  Abdul Quddus Arif, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association said: ‘The true Islam is a religion of compassion and kindness to all, regardless of faith, ethnicity, gender or beliefs. ‘We firmly believe in the power of integration and find there to be no conflict between being a Muslim and British at the same time.

‘As British Muslims, we are saddened by the demise of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and we stand together with the Nation during this difficult time. ‘Islam teaches us to be loyal to the country we live in and this is the theme of this year’s Ijtema. ‘We pledge our loyalty to Great Britain and King Charles III and we hope and pray that this country continues to prosper under the reign of our new King.’ The World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, paid tribute when the news broke that the Queen had died peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday.

Naming it ‘a truly great loss for the United Kingdom and Commonwealth’, he added: ‘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. ‘On behalf of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I wish to express our most sincere condolences to His Majesty, King Charles III, the members of the Royal family and to the nation. ‘May God Almighty grant them all the patience and strength to deal with this tremendous loss.’