Why Islam Ahmadiyyat?

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Why Islam Ahmadiyyat?

By Samina Silver, Redbridge North

Yes, I was a Zionist Jew

And I hated Muslims just like you

A Muslim man fell in the street

So I helped him to his feet

I picked up the Quran, his holy Book

Ask me why, I would never look

Some Israelis were offended and said I was bad

No, the hate you have is very sad

 

I decided that day this was not for me

Leave me alone now, let me be

I met an Ahmadi lady in the street

She asked me to come for something to eat

On that day Islam became the debate

Everyone is equal – was this my fate?

Islam Ahmadiyyat is so true

The Promised Messiah has come for me and you

 

I became an Ahmadi because it is true

And for my heart and soul nothing else will do

And who would have ever thought that this hateful Jew

Would one day go and become one of you

 

I wanted a sister and now I have one true

Samina Siddiqi, I love you

You’re honest, faithful and always true

And I strive to be a Muslim just like you

And all the Jamaat you are special too

I am proud to be among all of you

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Kalima-e-Shahadah, The Declaration of Islamic Faith

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by Ayesha Mahmood Malik, Surrey

 Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?[1]

These words are a nostalgic poetic rendering of the deeper subtleties of the soul that manifest themselves as the spiritual challenges that man must overcome before he may reach that exalted station wherefrom a spring of spiritual blessings flow. The epitome of this spiritual station was the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) – who descended into this world when humankind’s spiritual cup had run dry, and the barren fields of man’s soul craved the water of true salvation. A spiritual draught of alarming magnitude had enveloped Arabian lands, such that an uncanny darkness prevailed over everything. Man was akin to a barbaric existence, with all propensities for morality and spirituality having been buried.

Perhaps the gravest of sins plaguing mankind in the pre-Muhammadan period was the ritual of idol worship and polytheism that had rendered the notion of the Unity of God as something fanciful or illusory. To profess in those pre-Islamic times that God was one and had no partner was analogous to blasphemy or even apostasy of the modern day. It was considered to be sacrilegious if not a complete renouncement of one’s faith. Thus, it was within this polytheist fabric of Arabian society that Muhammad (saw) the Servant and Messenger of Allah was sent to light the world with the spirit of Tauhid (Oneness of God) and God’s final teachings in the form of the Holy Quran.

Juxtaposed against this backdrop of spiritual annihilation and moral impotency, the significance of the words of the Kalima-e-Shahadah, which read, I bear witness that (there is) no god except Allah; One is He, no partner hath He, and I bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is His Servant and Messenger are profound and powerful. They epitomise the spiritual awakening and rebirth of mankind at the hand of God’s chosen one, the Seal of the Prophets (saw). Writing in his treatise, “Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya”, the Promised Messiah (as) succinctly portrays the advent of the Holy Prophet (saw) in the following words,

“…the age in which the Holy Prophet (sa) appeared stood in dire need of a great heavenly reformer and spiritual guide, and that the teachings he brought were certainly true and met all the needs of the time and encompassed all the requirements of the age. So effective and forceful was his teaching that thousands were drawn towards the truth, and the words [There is none worthy of worship but Allah] were engraved upon their hearts. The ultimate purpose of Prophethood – which is to impart teachings that lead to salvation – was accomplished to perfection [by the Holy Prophet (sa)][2].”

Therefore, to espouse upon the worshippers of idols and false deities of those times that their beliefs were inherently misguided and held no rational basis was a grievous calumny. It followed that the challenger of what he declared as the mother of all evils – idolatry – was to present himself as the greatest benefit to mankind, reinstating the providence of One God over His creation. Thus, it was also natural that this torchbearer of God Almighty would exhibit the most perfect qualities of truth and wisdom, such that man’s journey on earth would be forever transformed into a struggle to emulate this archetype of virtue. The Holy Quran itself testifies to having rejuvenated the earth with Divine Guidance and Wisdom at the hands of the Holy Prophet (saw), God states,

“And Allah has sent down water from the sky, and has quickened therewith the earth after its death. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who would hear[3].”

 The Promised Messiah (as), writing in his seminal work, “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam,” explains that God Almighty calls to witness the laws of nature to testify for the hidden law of Divine Revelation. In a beautiful narrative, the Promised Messiah (as) expounds that just as the vegetation on earth cannot survive without rain, human reason, which is akin to earthly water, cannot survive without the heavenly water of Divine Revelation[4]. God says in the Quran and the Promised Messiah (as) explains,

“We call to witness the heaven that sends down rain and the earth that sprouts diverse types of vegetation with the help of such rain, that the Quran is God’s word and His revelation, and that it decides between truth and falsehood and is not vain talk, that is to say, it has not been revealed out of time and has come like seasonable rain.[5]

Thus, since six hundred years had passed since the time of Jesus (as) and the advent of the Holy Prophet (saw), earthly water had become corrupted and dried up[6]. The Holy Prophet (saw) brought with him the heavenly water of Divine Revelation that was to provide sustenance to the earthly water of human reason such that with his coming the teachings of the Lord Almighty would be rendered complete for all times to come.

Therefore, just as God calls to witness the obvious law of nature for the hidden law that governs Divine Revelation[7], the pledge of oath taken at the recitation of the Kalima-e-Shahadah is a manifestation of the oath-taker being called to witness the Unity of God and the Holy Prophet (saw) as His Servant and Messenger. The word “shahādah” is a noun derived from the verb “shahada”, which means, “He observed, witnessed, or testified[8].” Within a legal context, the term “shahādah” connotes testifying to the occurrence of certain events such as debt, adultery or divorce[9]. Testifying in a court of law thereby entails validating the proof of claims being submitted as evidence during trial. The word of the witness who renders such testimony must conform to the highest standards of honesty and integrity. It follows, then that when a Muslim bears witness to Muhammad (saw) as Allah’s Servant and Messenger, the requirements of truth and sincerity need to fulfill the most stringent criteria since man is being called to witness God’s word.

The Kalima-e-Shahadah is then a profoundly symbolic testimony to the truth of the Unity of God and of his greatest and final law-bearing Prophet, Muhammad (saw). The recitation of the Kalima-e-Shahadah is thereby a powerful oath to the truth of the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (saw) and a powerful pledge of allegiance to live one’s life in full conformity with them. In this latter sense, this testimony is unique, for not only Muslims are called to witness the truth of its claims but commands that they must surrender their lives with utmost sincerity to the Word of God and His Messenger. Thus, as we recite these words as Ahmadi Muslims, we must remain cognizant of the spiritual significance of this oath and pledge. As the Promised Messiah (as) illuminatingly writes:

Muhammad is the most magnificent imprint of the divine light;

None like him can ever be born on the face of the earth.

God sent him and spread the truth;

A new life was breathed into the earth by the advent of that leader.

He is a flourishing and productive tree of the garden of purity and perfection,

And all his progeny are like red roses[10].

Thus, we as roses of the Holy Prophet (saw’s) legacy must strive to discharge the burden of this example of pristine spirituality and war with our souls to crush its thorns. Our recitations of the Kalima-e-Shahadah must be an embodiment of this struggle such that we, too, may drink from that holy fountain that many go in search for, but only few find.

 

[1] Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet Collection,” Axiom Publishing (2001), p.46

[2] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya,” Islam International Publications Ltd., (2012), pp. 131-6

[3] Al Quran, Chapter 16, Verse 66

[4] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam,” Islam International Publications Ltd., (1996), p. 120

[5] Al Quran, Chapter 86, Verses 12-15 as explained in “The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam,” Islam International Publications Ltd., p.186

[6] See supra note 4

[7] See supra note 4, at p. 121

[8] See, generally, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahada#cite_note-3

[9] The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Cyril hi tom Alta Mira Press, (2001), p.416, cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahada#cite_note-NewEncycle-1

[10] See supra note 2, at p. 103

Caliphate or Khilafat?

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 Munazzah Chou, UK

The concept of caliphate is the idea of leadership of Muslim society according to the will of God. Many Muslims have embraced the argument that such an institution is the best way of ordering society but the form it should take has been interpreted in many ways. Western writers have referred to caliphate as a ‘many-splendored’ concept, about which ‘there is no one way, no single template or legal framework’ by which to define it. They cite caliphs through history of many different sorts; warrior caliphs, pious caliphs, intellectual caliphs, pleasure-loving caliphs, incompetent caliphs, cruel and tyrannical caliphs. Some suggest that the ‘interpretations of what constitutes a legitimate caliph are so loose that it’s surprising how few caliphates have been declared…’ They suggest that this can be explained by the fact that any declaration would have been ‘Pythonesque in its deluded grandeur.’ That ISIS held control of as much territory as Hadhrat Abu Bakr, the first Rightly-Guided Caliph—the claim to Caliphate made by Baghdadi looks far more credible and the ‘mass executions and public crucifixions have also done much to erase any lingering aura of comedy.’

Caliphate is an English term which may well be nebular or ambiguous but the concept of khilafat, the original Arabic word, in the true Islamic sense has specific application. The Holy Quran refers to khilafat as a favour from God. The Holy Quran lays emphasis on the moral and spiritual requirement for the believers to receive the favour of khilafat. Much of our understanding of khilafat is based on the following Quranic verse:

‘Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth [khalifas], as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear: They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then whoso is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious.’ (Surah Al-Nur, Verse 56)

In this verse, the Holy Quran presents the institution of khilafat as a reward for collective piety, i.e. to ‘those who believe and do good works’. Thus God’s promise to establish khilafat as a blessing for mankind is firmly rooted in the moral and spiritual condition of sincere believers. When these conditions are fulfilled they will be made the leaders of nations; their state of fear will give place to a condition of safety and security, Islam will reign supreme in the world, and above all the unity of God will become firmly established.

In the book of Ahadith, Musnad Ahmad by Imam Ahmad bin Hambal, there is a Hadith narrated by Hadhrat Huzaifa (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:

‘Prophethood shall remain among you as long as God wills. Then khilafat on the pattern of prophethood will commence and remain as long as He wills. A corrupt monarchy shall then follow and it shall remain as long as God wills. There shall then be a tyrannical despotism which shall remain as long as God wills. Then once again khilafat will emerge on the precept of prophethood.’
[Masnad-­Ahmad, Mishkat, Chapter Al-Anzar Wal Tahzir].

In this Hadith, the promise of khilafat is connected with Prophethood on two separate occasions. In between the two eras of khilafat, the reference to “the corrupt/erosive monarchy” and “despotic kingship” is what we could term “caliphate” but not khilafat. The Arabic words showing the relationship between khilafat and Prophethood are “khilafat -ala- minhaj-e-nabuwwat”, that is, khilafat on the lines of Prophethood. This explains the principle of khilafat as a continuation of the mission of the Prophet i.e the objectives of khilafat and Prophethood remain the same; moral and spiritual development of mankind.

There is therefore, a clear distinction between khilafat and caliphate. Caliphate deals with civil and political domain of the rulers in Islamic history, but khilafat deals with moral, religious and spiritual leadership of mankind. Therefore, a political ruler who might be called “caliph” may not be a khalifa in the Quranic sense of the word.

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Messiah and Mahdi (on whom be peace), described khilafat as a second manifestation of God’s power – the advent of Prophets being the first manifestation. This second manifestation is the time of the demise of Prophets of God when the enemy thinks that the followers of a Prophet are in disarray and the community will be destroyed, ‘then God manifests His strong hand of might and sustains the collapsing community.’

After the death of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on whom be peace) in 1908, after a hiatus of 13 hundred years, the divinely-guided Khilafat in Islam re-emerged in accordance with the prophecies of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam AhmadAS. This, the Ahmadiyya Khilafat differs significantly from the ideas of some Muslim groups with misplaced aspirations of political dominance. The Ahmadiyya Khilafat is apolitical; purely spiritual and religious in nature. While other Muslims wait for a Mahdi who would wage a “bloody” Jihad against the infidels, the Ahmadiyya Khilafat upholds the motto of “Love for all, hatred for none” and expounds the true greater Jihad as that which entails overcoming sinful and immoral temptations of the self.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has reassured us of the unending blessings of this divine institution,

‘You should therefore, neither grieve over what I have told you (that the hour of my demise is nigh) nor should you be heart-broken for it is mandatory that you see God’s second manifestation. The coming of that manifestation is a lot better for you because it is eternal whose succession will not terminate till the end of days. When I go, Allah will send to you the second manifestation and it will stay with you forever.’
(Al-Wassiyat, pp. 6-7)

May Allah enable us to continue with our endeavours to become deserving of this divine blessing. Ameen

 

References

Graeme Wood, What ISIS’s Leader Really Wants, https://newrepublic.com/article/119259/isis-history-islamic-states-new-caliphate-syria-and-iraq

The Holy Quran with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 4, pp. 1869-1870.

Khilafat and Caliphate, Mubasher Ahmad, M.A., LL.B. https://www.alislam.org/topics/khilafat/khilafat-and-caliphate.pdf

 

Islam: A Voice For The Unheard

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For Islam Awareness Week a post featuring the perspective of a young person

Aalia Qureshi, London

For many of us, being assertive, confident and easy-going comes naturally, almost like an instinct. But today, I am writing for those of us who feel we do not have a voice. Those of us who have to put in 20 times as much effort (so it seems) to get our voice heard and put our influences and ideas out there in the wide world. Those of us who feel our voice is worthless and insignificant.

It is unnervingly easy to feel overwhelmed by authority and social dictations in this world, which seem to ingrain rules and limits on our youthful imaginations. And often, especially in Asian-majority communities, our true feelings can be involuntary suppressed to create the outward image of happiness and delight when in reality, there are many cracks in the system. It seems there is no platform available for those of us who are perhaps hindered by anxiety or a knack for social awkwardness, especially when those words have their own taboo around them in our own communities!

I know it seems there is no hope, but truly there is. There is always hope, and today it comes in the form of Islam. In Islam, our voices are not merely words and noises, but through our voices God hears our intentions, meanings and actions. Through Islam, God allows our voices to be universally understood, with far-reaching, physical repercussions rather than merely swallowing the words of another. Through the combination of our voices and the voice of Allah, we can educate others; we can cheer others up; we can do humanitarian works or give to charities; we can recite the Holy Quran and practise the Sunnah – and these actions are what will truly lead to our positive thoughts and ideas influencing the world that we live in.

So, let us take solace in the fact that through Islam, our voice has the power to not only talk and speak words, but in fact, to take action and cause change towards a more open-thinking and optimistic world. But also, let us take heed that this is our responsibility as a Muslim – to put our skills and talent to good use in order to help those who are less fortunate than us and ultimately contribute to world peace and harmony between all of mankind.

 

 

 

Time for a revival of Islam?

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Maleeha Mansur, Hayes

With the Muslim world in such division and disarray, some would say that much like how Pope Francis has embarked on a project of ‘modernising’ the Catholic Church, perhaps Islam too is in need of a reformation. Many Muslims would indeed be furious at such a proposal, after all, Islam claims to be the last and most perfect religion. We read in the Holy Qur’an “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion” (Chapter 5: Verse 3). How can it be then that the followers of such a perfect faith are in the condition that we find the Muslims in today?

Let it be clear that, the state of the Muslim world today and indeed the Islamic revival I am alluding to were both prophesied by the Holy Founder of Islam 1400 years ago. He made it clear that there would come a time when the condition of his own followers would be that of a divided and unfortunately, a spiritually hollow community. However, he further foretold that at that time God Almighty would safeguard His religion by means of sending a reformer to the world to revive the Islam to its full glory.

However, was there a reformer? And how did he ‘revive’ Islam?

Ahmadi Muslims believe that in fulfilment of the prophecy, 128 years from today, in the remote town of Qadian in India, a humble Muslim by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was Divinely appointed as that very reformer. What was the reformation he brought? Was it the warfare and bloodshed we see today? Quite the contrary. His community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, now established in over 200 countries, is the most peaceful Muslim community and the sole to be united under one leader.

The crux of its objectives, in line with the message the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) brought, is to fulfil the rights of God and the rights of Mankind. The community’s motto is simple “Love for all, Hatred for None”, manifested in its actions from building hospitals, schools and water wells in the developing world to running blood bank drives and poppy appeals in the developed world. When it comes universal brotherhood, the Promised Reformer, wrote as follows:

“My countrymen, a religion which does not inculcate universal compassion is no religion at all. Similarly, a human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all. Our God has never discriminated between one people and another. This is illustrated by the fact that all the potentials and capabilities which have been granted to the Aryans have also been granted to the races inhabiting Arabia, Persia, Syria, China, Japan, Europe and America. The earth created by God provides a common floor for all people alike, and His sun and moon and many stars are a source of radiance and provide many other benefits to all alike. Likewise, all peoples benefit from the elements created by Him, such as air, water, fire and earth, and similarly from other products created by Him like grain, fruit, and healing agents, etc. These attributes of God teach us the lesson that we, too, should behave magnanimously and kindly towards our fellow human beings and should not be petty of heart and illiberal.” (Message of Peace, Page 6)

What is the glory of Islam that the Promised Reformer has restored? He has taught us to prostrate our heads at the threshold of the Almighty and has tied our hands to the service of humanity. This is true Islam. This is the Islam that wins the hearts and minds of the world. This is the perfected religion which was revealed to Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

Testing Tolerance

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Sarah Waseem, London

By now most people know, The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies can now stipulate that employees may not wear the Islamic headscarf, but only as part of prohibitions including other religious and political symbols.  They argue that “an internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination”.

I have been debating this with a friend. She maintains that there is nothing wrong in companies stipulating a dress code – that it their right to do so. If a Muslim woman or Jewish or Sikh man does not wish to comply, then he or she should look elsewhere for work.

It is true that dress codes have been in force for years from school uniforms to official uniforms. We expect people to dress and conform to certain standards when working at every level in society.

So what is wrong with the Luxemburg decision?

The Luxembourg-based court found that a headscarf ban may also constitute “indirect discrimination” if people adhering to a particular religion or belief, such as Muslims, are put at a particular disadvantage.

But indirect discrimination is permissible if it is “objectively justified by a legitimate aim”, such as a company’s policy of neutrality, provided that the means of achieving it are appropriate and necessary.”

In many hospitals in the UK uniform measure are already in place to reduce infection. So for example, many staff are expected to wear short sleeves.  There is a logical reason for this. At airports, security concerns dictate that women covering their faces must remove their veils. Again, there is a rationale for this, that all must follow regardless of faith.

However, what does ‘a policy of neutrality’ mean?  Psychologists have been telling us for a long time that we make judgements about people within a few minutes of meeting them. From their accents, we make rash conclusions about their political views; from body shapes we may censure or applaud food choices, and (here’s the clanger!) if they are attractive we are more likely to employ them and promote them!

So, given these biases that we as humans make, from seeing someone, the rationale of not making judgments about their religious affiliations seems somewhat nonsensical.

The reality is that religion has become politicised, especially in Europe. The other reality of this ruling is, that on sheer demographics, the main target will be Muslim women, rather than interestingly, Muslim men who do not usually display their faith affiliation so obviously. Such a move will mean some Muslim women will be forced to consider where they work, and for many, this  may mean a withdrawal from sections of the labour market.

In my opinion, secularists are afraid of the power of faith – that believers do not look to solely the state for their needs but to a Higher Power. And the main source of their fear today, is Islam which is the fastest growing religion in many parts of the world.  Given the destruction wrought on the world by terrorist groups such as Daesh, their fears are understandable. However, these groups do not come out of nowhere, and as sociologists will remind us, discontent and resentment within the Muslims world has been brewing for centuries, largely aided by Western politics of interference in their affairs.

So what is the way forward? I have recently returned from the beautiful Spanish city of Cordoba, ruled by Arabs centuries ago. It was a city where faith was respected – Christians, Muslims and Jews lived cordially side by side. It was an era of a great exchange of ideas and cultures, and philosophies. It was an era of great material and scientific advancement as exemplified by the architectural beauty of the Cordoba mosque, or the ruins of the city of Medina Al Zahara.

Banning displays of faith will not lead to peace nor will they create greater integration. That comes from dialogue and discussion, not hiding one’s values, under the guise of ‘neutrality’.   The court ruling, in my opinion sets a dangerous precedent which will undermine cohesion and may lead to further divide in societies.