London’s Pain

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

As it’s Ramadhan I was with my family preparing for the breaking of the fast at sunset, a few minutes after nine. Saturday night is family night for us and last night we were all together, parents, siblings and children, the Champions League final on the television, almost all of us rooting for Juventus so Buffon could lift the trophy. Around the London Bridge area there were also many people who had met up with friends in bars to watch the football.

Like all true Muslims up and down the country (and around the world) during the month of Ramadhan, we wait for the fast to open, before praying and eating dinner. As it was a family day we did this and then sat down to relax for a short time and catch up with one another before bed.

It was during this time I became aware of the events which had begun to unfold on the news; something was happening first on London Bridge, then Borough Market. A van had swerved into pedestrians and there were reports of knives and guns. London is the city of my birth, the city in which I grew up and despite moving away I’ve found that it’s true – you can take the girl out of London but you can’t take London out of the girl. To see the events unfolding felt personal, it hurts physically when my city is hurting.

Of course speculation started immediately that it was a terrorist attack and that it must be Muslims. Some  Muslims said on social media it can’t be Muslims, all real Muslims are breaking their fast and praying at that time. I thought of my family and all my fellow Muslim friends; it’s true, they would all be doing this.

The next fast began a few hours later; at this point the Metropolitan Police had confirmed six fatalities in addition to three attackers. Six innocent people out on a Saturday night caught up in the murderous rampage of hit and run, knife wielding madmen.

As a Muslim the thought of anyone claiming to carry out atrocities in the name of Islam is repugnant. Islam doesn’t condone the killing of innocent people, even in a state of war; the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) never condoned this either. So what is this version of Islam they claim to follow? That of Isis whose followers became famous for possessing “Islam for Dummies” rather than a copy of the Holy Qur’an? And if they justify their actions by saying they are killing unbelievers why are they setting off bombs in Muslim countries regularly killing Muslim men, women and children? This shows their murders are indiscriminate and it is innocent people in many countries who are suffering.

We are a week into the month of Ramadhan, a time when Muslims make extra efforts to please God by reading the Holy Qur’an, performing extra prayers and generally trying to be better human beings. An opportunity to feel the pain of those without food and give to charity to help the needy; Ramadhan is a time of self-reformation to make us better human beings.

What kind of Muslim would use Ramadhan to plan and carry out the murders of innocent people? How dare they hurt people in my beloved London and say it is in the name of my faith?

No, it is not Islam they are following and God does not ask for these actions which are those of criminals using the excuse of Isis inspiration as validation to carry out their murderous urges. Britain is suffering the effects as are so are many places around the world who are targets with such regularity.

Today London is in pain and so am I.

Ramadhan and Me

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Mishal Aziz, Raynes Park

Ramadhan comes and goes every year and by the time we are fully able to welcome this precious month, it is time to say goodbye to it with the hope that we would be able to see it next year. As an Ahmadi Muslim girl, Ramadhan holds a very special place in my life. It gives me an opportunity to create a stronger bond with Allah, the Almighty. It gives me an opportunity to pray more optional Prayers, early in the morning and late at night, and recite the Holy Qur’an much more than I do in ordinary days.

I am a student and I fast during my college hours, like many other Ahmadi Muslim girls. My friends find it really hard to connect with me on this aspect, that how not eating or drinking gives a person more happiness and satisfaction. They often ask me “Are you forced to fast?”

My reply is always ‘No’ because in Islam you are not forced to do anything, Allah has commanded you to do certain things but He has given you free will as well so it is an individual choice to follow the commandments, to gain blessings, or go on the opposite path.

As I am studying Education and the number of children who come fasting to school make the educators assume that Muslim children have an obligation to fast from an early age however that is not true, children themselves want to fast and nowhere according to my knowledge does it say that children should be forced to fast. I remember when I was young I used to wait impatiently for Ramadhan but my mum would not let me fast because I was too young however when I turned 14, my mum gave me permission to fast over the weekend; the happiness I felt on that day was out of the world because I felt like I had accomplished something big in my life.

Another friend asked me “you claim that Allah loves you, what kind of love is that when He is asking you to starve?” I believe that Allah does not want us to merely abstain from food or drink because what benefit will He get from making us hungry and thirsty; He wants our spiritual status to improve so He wants us to refrain from falsehood, fights, wrong doings, back-biting, illegal activities, etc. I can focus on refraining from these activities while I am fasting because the hunger and thirst is a constant reminder for me that I am fasting and I have to carry out right actions.

Islam is a very considerate religion. It always has an easier way for the people who are vulnerable or caught in a situation. In the Holy Qur’an Allah says:

 “…. whoso among you is sick or on a journey, shall fast the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty, is an expiation – the feeding of a poor man….” (2:185)

This verse shows that Allah is OmniBenevolent and He cares for all His beings, He knows that some people are not able to fast because of their health, He does not force them to fast but shows an easier way which is feeding a poor person.

Every year I try to start a new good habit that I can continue even after Ramadhan. This year my goal is to start reading the translation of the Holy Qur’an so I can learn more about my religion and scale spiritual heights. (InshAllah)

May Allah shower lots of blessings in the Holy month of Ramadhan.

Ramadhan Mubarak to everyone!

A True Khalifa And His People

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Maleeha Mansur, Hayes, UK

Turning fear into peace

Every evening in the suburbs of Surrey, two to three dozen families emerge from a humble office – some with tears of joy flowing down their faces, others mesmerised and still absorbing the moments they have just had the fortune to witness. Whilst this incredibly special and faith-inspiring experience lasts only a few minutes, yet it leaves a deep and lasting impression on them. Whether it be a child, a man, woman, academic, professional or a retired elder – all unanimously vow to strive to surrender worldly pursuits, for a most noble cause – to attach themselves with God and to serve His Creation. What could bring about such a revolution within a few moments? What lies behind the doors of this humble office? A Man of God – the fifth Khalifa and supreme head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper).

Whilst these humble followers may have spent only a few minutes in the presence of the Khalifa, the personality they encounter is so overpowering with love and righteousness that it is able to transform them in extraordinary ways and turns their fears into peace.

Love like no other

This love certainly is a two-way phenomenon but it is ever so imbalanced. Despite, the pinnacle of love the Khalifa’s followers have for him, collectively it still only equates to a drop in the ocean as compared to the love of the Khalifa for his people. Certainly, this true Khalifat has no parallel. As so lovingly stated by the Khalifa,

‘there is no problem, be it of the Community or of someone’s private life of which the Khalifa of the time is not aware, for which he does not make practical efforts and does not turn to God to pray!’[i]

The Khalifa once humbly explained that

‘there is no country in the world that I do not go to in my imagination before falling asleep and for whom I do not pray while sleeping and while waking. I am not saying this to count favours, no, this is my duty and may Allah the Exalted make me perform my duty more than ever.’[ii]

Certainly, no other leader exhibits such concerns and love for each and every aspect of his following.

On his tours around the globe, the sentiments of love are repeated in each and every continent of the world. In Africa, women run along the car of the Khalifa with their young children in their arms, desperately drawing their child’s attention to the Khalifa so that they might see the Khalifa. In Canada, young boys choose to happily wait for hours in the freezing cold with their fathers that they may gain a glimpse of their beloved Khalifa, boldly stating “…we have to see Huzoor [the Khalifa] no matter cold, no matter rain, no matter anything”.

It is a peculiar love, with no resemblance or parallel. Certainly, this love cannot be instilled by people, it is God alone Who can create such love, as God Almighty says it is He who

“…has put affection between their hearts. If thou hadst expended all that is in the earth, thou couldst not have put affection between their hearts, but Allah has put affection between them.’[iii]

 Charismatic persona

One could say the love and awe-inspiring personality of the Khalifa conjures feelings which could be explained as addictive, once one experiences the company of the Khalifa, one yearns for more. Certainly this is true not only of his followers but of individuals unaware of the wonders they are to encounter when meeting the Khalifa. On his tour of Australia, a photographer of the Daily Telegraph happened to have the opportunity to photograph the Khalifa whilst covering an interview with His Holiness, but afterwards he asked to return and photograph the Khalifa further, for no reason other than that he found the blessed face of the Khalifa “extremely beautiful and radiant and so simply wished to take more photos of him.”[iv]

Time, and time again, we see academics and politicians giving advance notice that due to their prior commitments they will have to leave gatherings with the Khalifa early but are compelled to stay once in the company of the Khalifa due to the love and spirituality they experience. That is, despite the Khalifa himself reminding them of their other engagements. On his visit to the Canadian Parliament, two Parliamentary events due to take place that evening were cancelled because many MPs indicated they did not wish to miss the Khalifa’s address to Parliament.

Not a second unsacrificed

One may wonder, how does a person with followers in tens of millions, spread in over 200 countries, have such a deep and meaningful relationship with each and every one. This relationship and communication takes many forms. At a glimpse – the Khalifa delivers weekly Friday Sermons broadcast globally via the community’s 24 hour satellite channel, as well as multiple additional addresses each month at various occasions, such as religious celebrations, annual conventions of the community, mosque inaugurations and other ceremonies. The Khalifa holds classes with the youth of the community who openly enquire about matters of religion, academia and even those personal to the Khalifa which he graciously answers in depth. Daily, the Khalifa leads a congregation of followers in the five daily Prayers, responds to thousands of letter from his followers and holds family meetings open to all members of the community as well as office meetings to address various issues pertaining to the community and its mission. His tours around the globe enable distant followers to meet their beloved Khalifa, and so, despite being a worldwide leader, the Khalifa is in tune with his followers like no other. With such a packed schedule, one humbly observes that certainly this is a Divinely inspired individual, whose every iota is wholly dedicated to his mission.

Certainly, the Khalifa is an embodiment of unparalleled selfless leadership. Hence, it is no wonder that the Khalifa’s followers proudly announce their dedication to him; for they know with certainty that their dedication is to none other than the ‘rope of Allah’, a living epitome of fulfilment of one’s obligations to God and to Mankind.

 

[i] Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad on 6th June 2014

[ii] Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad on 6th June 2014

[iii] The Holy Qur’an Chapter 8: Verse 64

[iv] Huzoor’s Tour of Australia 2013 A Personal Account Part 1, by Abid Khan, pp. 21-22

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

 

Attack On Children

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

It was with shock I turned my phone on early this morning and saw Manchester being talked about by everyone. There is always shock when a bombing or attack happens but one involving young people always hurts more. It was with tears my teenage daughter spoke to me after waking and finding out about it; she felt it all the more because a lot of the people involved were teenage girls just like her. Her friends have attended concerts where they’re dropped off by parents who have a meal before they all meet up to go home. Seeing the parents searching for their children, teenagers trying to get to safety was heart-breaking; a terror attack is designed to inspire fear; is the heartbreak just a by-product?

My daughter went to college but messaged me from there saying she was lying low during breaks as she couldn’t face anyone; Manchester was the only topic of conversation and people were mentioning social media comments about Muslims. At school yesterday, my youngest daughter had been speaking in a lesson about the Women’s March Westminster Bridge vigil and why Ahmadi Muslim women had joined to show solidarity with their country and condemnation of terrorism; she was heartened by the response from her classmates but today has become wary of their reaction. That is the everyday result on ordinary Muslim children, of a terror attack these days.

As someone who partly remembers and has read about the Troubles I have told my children what it was like in the recent past as bombings occurred in many towns in England as well as with sickening regularity in Northern Ireland. Bombings and terror are not a new thing and when one group stops the terrorising of innocent people another group is always ready to take its place; history has shown us this down the ages.

When Islam is condemned for being violent I recall verses from the Holy Qur’an which teach me how wrong this condemnation is. Chapter 5, verse 33 says “Whosoever killed a person it shall be as if he had killed all mankind”. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) taught respect for those of other faiths and that the innocent should never be harmed even in a state of war. That is the Islam that I follow and that the vast majority of Muslims the world over follow.

But at this moment and in an age of global media that can be small comfort when extremists begin stirring up hatred which spreads in an instant. Rather than simply showing solidarity with those affected they only talk about blame, they create divisions making it the innocent us against the violent them. At this point terrorism has gained another victory by weakening the bonds that make us stronger.

Other than simply inspiring terror, the reasons behind terrorist atrocities may be complex but whatever the case we must hold firm and stand together united against all forms of terrorism and extremism. That way we will be gaining a victory against those that work to divide us.

Countering Extremism And Instilling A Love Of Britain In Our Children

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Tahira Chaudhry, Croydon

As I walked home today I encountered a ‘gentleman’ who when crossing paths with me decided rather sadly to look at me with disapproval and then spit in my pathway. In my mind, he was no doubt consumed by some form and mingling of both hatred and a lack of knowledge. I even surprised myself because I was not overcome with anger rather I felt a deep sense of sadness for him. What was it that made him react this way? Racism, sexism, the way I was dressed which showed that I was Muslim? In today’s world it could be a plethora of ‘isms’ or ‘phobias.’ It could even have been in actuality a sense of fear of the extremism we are increasingly seeing.

As a mother of four sons the stark reality of extremism is a dim and sad reality. The encounter brought to the surface for me the fear faced by real people in today’s society. No innocent bystander ever wants to have to explain himself but the situation faced by Britain and much of the world today means crucially it is essential to disassociate ourselves with such behaviour and voice the message of the real and true Islam. And so do I begin.

Having been born and brought up in Britain I feel and believe I am very much British. I am a British Ahmadi Muslim woman. It is very much my identity and who I am. So, to even have to discuss with an aim of reassuring others that I am no threat sometimes seems so wrong. My faith also makes me who I am and the fact that loyalty to my homeland is very much a part of my faith makes me even stronger in my vigil. Last month we celebrated International Women’s Day but as I heard so many fellow Ahmadi Muslim women say, ‘In Islam every day is Women’s Day.’ For those that base their thoughts not on hearsay but pursue knowledge they will find the treasures of the great status given to women in Islam. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community stated: “Let it be crystal clear that in no respect is a woman’s status less than that of a man.”

I am the daughter of an Asian Ahmadi Muslim father who rejoiced at fathering four daughters wishing us to aspire to the highest levels of knowledge and education. There was no suppression and anyone that knows me knows I am anything but suppressed. My parents, my faith and my country give me freedom and liberty and have taught me the values of love and respect for all regardless of creed, colour, religion, race or status. Almost 60 years ago my father as an immigrant brought diversity to British culture and his faith assisted him in integration. He looked up to the values and goodness in British society and then celebrated it his entire life.

Having been born in Britain for me the first glimpse of extremism I had ever witnessed came at 9/11. I was sat at my desk in the centre of London and I remember the shiver of fear that swept down Fleet Street. I remember feeling dumbfounded and questioning how the perpetrators of such an atrocity could call themselves ‘Muslims?’

My four sons are the second generation in our family being raised here in Britain and like me the love of this great country flows through them. But a sad and unfortunate reality is that they face challenges beyond those ever faced by me. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I saw nothing but wonderful British values and an accepting community. In contrast my children face extremism on a daily basis together with a barrage of news and both accurate and inaccurate accounts of it.

In the face of such fear what do we do? Paradoxically a fear of extremism is creating a rush to push through extreme measures and decisions in themselves intended to curb the spread of it but in reality rulings that are themselves extreme and curb the liberty which we so love. It is in these trying times when we are facing such paradoxes and questions of what is ethically right that our children are growing up. No longer just battling teenage hormones our youngsters and tomorrows future are grappling confusion and controversy at a level never witnessed before. History bears testament to the effects of hatred. It is in this fear that I remain content because my faith and my children’s faith teaches us every day to seek knowledge. In the face of adversity to educate, to love and respect is the way forward. It is in adopting these principles that you truly testify to being both truly British and truly a Muslim. To counter extremism and to instil the love I write of, within our children we must lead by example as did our forefathers. Today more than ever before the time has arrived to practice ‘Love for All Hatred for None.’

What is the true significance of Easter?

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Navida Sayed, Hounslow, UK

For many devout Christians, the real focus of Easter is about the physical resurrection of Jesus, which is a most crucial facet of the Christian faith. However, Easter has become so heavily commercialised these days you won’t miss seeing bunnies, bonnets and chocolates eggs everywhere. The emphasis around Easter is on the array of vibrant coloured eggs and flowers, which have no direct correlation with the trial, arrest, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus

The question then arises how did the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus become affiliated with bunnies and eggs? The fact is that there is absolutely no Biblical support, which authorises the keeping of Easter celebrations and no Biblical verses endorsing celebrations including Lent, eggs, baskets, bonnets or egg hunts. *

The entire foundation of Christian belief is based on the supernatural and miraculous resurrection and Jesus’ atonement for the sins of mankind through his death. If we believe that Jesus (peace be on him ) actually died on the cross, we would also have to admit that all his efforts were lost in vain, and that it was, God forbid, a shameful end of his ministry on the cross. Many people are not aware that God saved Jesus (peace be on him) from dying as a result of the most extreme, disgraceful form of punishment, that of crucifixion. He did not die as a criminal, openly and appallingly in the eyes of the world, as it is stated:

‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’ (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus (peace be on him) has been a dominant figure in history for over two thousand years, but more evidence will continue coming to light to prove that Jesus (peace be on him) did not die on the cross, he was not resurrected and he did not ascend to heaven. God the Exalted says in the Holy Qur’an:

‘O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ. (Ch.3 V.56)

Jesus was sent to preach to all the twelve tribes of Israel. Out of the twelve tribes only two tribes were in Palestine while the other ten were found scattered in the lands stretching beyond Palestine. Jesus would have been deemed unsuccessful in his mission if he did not preach to the ten lost sheep of Israel.

“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of israel”. (Matthew 15: 24)

Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus (peace be on him) instructed his followers:

‘These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, ‘Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ (Matthew 10:5-7)

‘But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.’ (Matthew 10:23)

Jesus (peace be on him) escaped the clutches of his persecutors and the son of man continued his mission in search of the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus migrated to the East in search of the lost sheep for which there is ample historical evidence and is recently supported by modern ‘finds’ of archaeology. Jesus found his lost sheep in Persia, Afghanistan and Kashmir, preached to them and comparatively he was much more successful here than in Palestine. He died a natural death and was buried in Srinagar, Kashmir.

The Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam has provided substantial evidence in his book ‘Jesus in India’, explaining Jesus’ escape from an ignominious death on the Cross and his subsequent journey to India in quest of the lost tribes of Israel whom he had to gather into his fold as mentioned in the New Testament. **

Regardless of the theological differences regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be on him) Muslims have always been advised to respect and live peacefully with their fellow Christian brothers and in the sixth year of the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) granted to all Christians a charter. ***
According to this charter:

  • The Christians were not to be unfairly taxed
  • No bishop was to be expelled from his monastery
  • No pilgrim was to be detained from the performance of pilgrimage
  • No Christian churches were to be pulled down for the building of mosques
  • Christian women married to Muslims were free to enjoy their own religion
  • In the case of repair of churches, the Muslims were to help the Christians

We hope and pray that we can live side by side in peace and harmony just as Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them) taught us.

 

*for further information read http://www.reviewofreligions.org/2927/a-study-of-the-origins-and-features-of-easter/

** For further information read https://www.alislam.org/library/books/jesus-in-india/preface.html

*** https://www.alislam.org/library/book/book-religious-knowledge/life-holy-prophet-muhammad/hijrat-to-medinah/

 

 

British Values

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Sarah Ward Khan, London

Wednesday 29th March 2017 was definitely a landmark day. On that day, our Government enacted Article 50, following the outcome of last year’s referendum and in doing so they turned their back on the past 40 years of close links with Europe. This was a moment where Britain chose to turn away from group membership with its continental neighbours and strike out alone.

So it seems appropriate at this point to pause and consider what makes life in Britain special? What are the values and attributes which define us as a nation and make us unique? Cucumber sandwiches? Cups of tea? Queueing patiently? While these humorous stereotypes raise a giggle they are not core values which underpin our society.

Ofsted, in its passionate quest to instil British values in every young mind, has defined the core British values as: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and none. Schools, colleges, universities and even nurseries have to now demonstrate that they are promoting these values to their charges. These values are held up as the key to integrating society and avoiding radicalisation and extremism. But I feel that they have fallen wide of the mark.

The motivation for the focus on British values is the fear that British born and educated individuals will become radicalised and pose a threat to life in the UK or abroad. But Britain is not a homogenous society. We are, especially in our urban areas, a rich tapestry of international cultures, languages and faiths. In trying to narrow the remit of values to something ‘British’ we are failing to recognise that core values are international and not confined to single nations. As in the wake of Brexit we turn inwards, we should not forget the value and contribution offered by the rest of the world. Every nation, despite any difficulties in current situations, has something good to offer. Indeed, there is nothing especially uniquely ‘British’ about these values.

The Holy Quran teaches;

‘And mankind were but one community, then they differed;…’[1]

So here we have an excellent example of unification and integration principles. We are all members of the same community: humankind. When we recognise that every individual has value and that we should respect each other with compassion and kindness, not just tolerance, then we will eliminate, among much else, extremism.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a shining example of cohesion and integration both within its membership and wider society. Members belong to many races and nations yet they are united by a common faith and a motto ‘Love for all, Hatred for none’. Within each community where they reside you will find Ahmadis feeding the homeless, visiting the sick and the elderly, donating money to the poor. They truly aspire to be an example of serving humanity.

These are the core values that unite, the recognition that consideration for humanity is paramount and unwavering. You cannot remove extremism by turning inwards and narrowing your outlook. It is only in accepting that all nations and people are equal under God that peace can reign.

[1] 10:20

With Love From A Mother To A Mother

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For Islam Awareness Week a post featuring the perspective of a mother

Sibgha Salim, Raynes Park

Each year as Mother’s day approaches, shops begin selling cards, flowers, chocolates and a huge variety of presents. Prices are hiked and businesses make money as usual, ‘Do all these things make a Mum happy?’ I began to wonder.

To be a mother, calls for an immense responsibility and sacrifice. The essence of it was beyond my understanding as a girl. Despite the tonne of responsibilities that lie on my mother’s shoulders nothing has made her falter and she remains undeterred in her duties. Her dignified character, calm demeanour and poised personality whilst juggling all her responsibilities, amazes me until today. It also made me understand the status of a mother my religion teaches.

Being a Muslim, I follow the teachings of the Holy Quran to pray for my parents as commanded by Allah in the verse below:

“And lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness. And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in my childhood.’” (17:25)

Islam places both man and woman spiritually equal in the sight of Allah. But in her role as a mother, a woman is given an even higher status than a man, so much so that a mother has three times more rights than a father, as said by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He emphasised the love and respect due to the mother by saying:

“Paradise lies at the feet of the mother”

For this much esteemed position given to her by Islam, a mother has a huge responsibility of good moral upbringing of her children and future generation.

At another place the Holy Qur’an repeatedly directs Muslims to care for their parents, especially the mother.

And We have enjoined on man concerning his parents —his mother bears him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years —‘Give thanks to Me and to thy parents. Unto Me is the final return.” (31:15)

“…and show kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with kind words” (17:24)

This year I got the opportunity to spend some time with the residents of Carter House, a care home in Raynes Park, Surrey that provides nursing and dementia care for the elderly.

With the help of the staff of Carter House, the Ahmadiyya Muslim ladies of Raynes Park have been visiting them at least once every week, arranging coffee mornings and pampering sessions for the female residents and much more. Each one of them invites me to sit with them and listen to what they have to say.

Therefore, when I expressed my offer and wish to celebrate Mother’s Day at Carter House the staff accepted it happily.

My intention was to celebrate with a wish of love from one mother to another mother and I offered the female residents and staff of Carter House free session of ‘Henna-hand painting’. An elderly resident was so overjoyed with the love and care, after seeing the beautiful Henna on her hand she said,

‘Thank you so much for doing this for me, all my life I never thought, I would ever have Henna done. You have made my day! I surely, will send my photo to my grandchildren and they will be very delighted to see this’.

Her response, for me as a mother of 4 children, was the best present that no money could ever buy; a present of love, respect and care which every mother deserves.

Due to other commitments, I had to leave but with the promise to return again within a few days. Most of them asked me how much they owed me. My reply was, ‘your love’ – a love from one mother to another mother.

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.