My greatest joy in living in the city of Haifa is the peaceful coexistence of its citizens. The city is also beautiful. It is on the Mediterranean with a tayelet or boardwalk and an active commercial port.
Haifa is a city dotted with gardens. The most prominent is at the world center of the Baha’i religion, with the tombs of the Bab (Mirza Muhammad Ali) and Abbas Efendi. The presence of the Baha’i, for so long persecuted in various Middle East countries, is evidence of the tolerant social fabric of this city. The greatest challenge facing this small and brave nation is to promote the values of peace in an area filled with strife and hatred. Haifa is the home of the Tomb of Elijah the Prophet, which is considered one of the holiest and most venerated shrines to Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze alike.
I am fortunate to live in the Mercaz or center part of Haifa which adjoins the wonderful neighborhood of Kabbabir.
It is the home of Israel’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Most of Israel's two thousand Achmadis live in this pleasant tree lined residential area of Haifa. There are many parks, some neighborhood cafes, schools, grocery stores and the grand Mosque and school for their believers. Many Jewish, some Christian, and a few Druze citizens are living in the quaint neighborhood. There is a breathtaking view of the sea in the bottom of the sloping area.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the larger of two communities that arose from the Ahmadiyya movement founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835–1908). The original movement split into two factions in 1914. (The other branch is the smaller Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-ahmadiat.)
The community is led by the Khalifatual Masih (“successor of the Messiah”), currently Khalifatual Masih V, who is the spiritual leader of the community and the successor Mizra Ghulam Ahmad.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement, declared that he was the “Promised One” of all religions, fulfilling the eschatological prophecies found in world religions. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Community is “Love for All, Hatred for None”. They first settled in Palestine in 1925 which became Israel in 1948.
They built the neighborhood’s first mosque on Mount Carmel in 1931, and a larger grand mosque in the 19802. The grand mosque has two white minarets standing 34 meters tall, which dominate the low-rise of the residential neighborhoods on the ridges nearby. Mount Carmel is the burial spot of Haifa’s most famous citizen Elijah the prophet. Famous visitors to Kababir include Shimon Peres.
At the beginning, the neighborhood was managed as a commune in which one of the founding family brothers worked in his occupation and donated its fee to a mutual account. Some of the family members joined the Turkish army, some worked in the Oil refinery in the city of Haifa and others were involved in building the Port of Haifa.
Today the Ahmadis are leaders in education, commerce, and medical care in our community. They are active in promoting dialogue and peace in Haifa. I have been blessed to join them in interfaith sports activities, choirs, community tours, and most importantly friendship.