Establishing Religious Peace
Address delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the Worlwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community (may Allah strengthen his hand), on 19th December 2009, at the VIP Reception held at Ratskeller am Römer, on the 50th anniversary of the Nur Mosque, Frankfurt.
All the honourable guests, Assalamu ‘Alaikum Warahmatullah, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon you all.
Firstly, I would like to thank all the guests who have come to attend the 50th Anniversary of our Nur Mosque here in Frankfurt today. The fact that you are here shows that you are open-minded people because you have come despite the fact that there is an ongoing anti-Islamic campaign being waged in society; not only against Muslims, but against Islam itself. And after listening to the speeches of all the honourable speakers I am now more confident that I am right in thinking this, of having this view, that you are all open-minded people sitting in front of me. Anyway, this campaign by the opponents of Islam presents Islam as an extremist faith; however, this is far removed from the actual teachings of the religion.
When people, who are unfamiliar with Islam, hear such claims, or when they listen to news of terrorists, Muslim suicide bombers, or fanatics and hardliners, they begin to believe that Islam really is an extreme religion that promotes terror, and that Muslims follow hatred and consider every non-Muslim to be worthless. Moreover, they consider that it is only the teachings of Islam that pose a threat to the world peace. And it is now, I am happy that those who are sitting here are not of this view, but there are quite a number of people in the world who still hold this view. Unfortunately, this entirely false notion has now taken firm root. However, I shall now clarify some of these misunderstandings in light of the true teachings of Islam.
As I mentioned earlier, the fact that you have come here, despite hearing all such allegations, proves that you do not wish to only hear one point of view but, fulfilling the requirements of justice and fair-play, you have come to see what the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at says about the teachings of Islam.
I have always said that I am not ashamed to admit that certain extremist ‘Muslim’ groups have created great disorder in the world. However, this lack of peace exists more in the countries of the perpetrators themselves rather than in Europe or other places in the world. This clearly illustrates that this battle is not against any religion, but is the work of a small and self-serving group who create disorder and carry out attacks in the name of religion. If you analyse the situation, you will realise that these people, who serve their own interests, have killed more Muslims than people of other faiths. The non-Muslims being killed are those who are sending armies to assist such Muslims countries, perhaps, on the pretext of establishing peace.
I do not wish to comment on whether military assistance is right or wrong, or whether the assessments of the western powers regarding the future plans of the terrorists are sound. Nor do I wish to comment upon the strategic position of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq or whether the terrorists are trying to dominate such areas, or what the final solution should be in tackling the war on terror. These are all separate issues on which I would prefer not to speak at this time.
However, as the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, I would like to remove the misunderstandings about Islam in light of its true teachings and present to you the real and beautiful picture of Islam as we see it.
I now present to you a few examples of Islamic teachings based on the Holy Qur’an with regards to establishing world peace.
If we look at the fundamental reasons for religious animosity amongst the followers of religion, the principle causes are when people reject the founders of each other’s religion as false, mock them and consequently ridicule the customs and rituals that are linked to the founder of respective religion.
Let us see what Islam teaches about the prophets or the founders of religions. Chapter 3, Verse 85 of the Holy Qur’an states:
Say, ‘We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and to Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit.
This is the beautiful teaching of Islam.
If a Muslim claims to obey Allah, he is duty bound to believe in all the prophets, to the extent that at another place, Allah the Almighty states that He has sent prophets to all the nations as a means to reform people, some of whom Allah has named in the Qur’an. Thus, Islam has laid the foundation for peace, harmony and reconciliation by making all the founders of religions worthy of respect.
If we look at the early history of Islam we see that when, due to the extreme cruelties against the Muslims in Makkah, they were forced to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, even then the disbelievers of Makkah did not leave them alone and in fact continued their persecution. They tried to finish the Muslims by attacking them. It was only then that Allah granted the Holy Prophet(saw), peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and his followers permission to fight and defend themselves.
This is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in Chapter 22, verses 40 and 41; the translation is as follows:
Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged – and Allah indeed has power to help them – Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ – And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.
Now see, it is not just the rights of Islam that have been considered. Muslims have not been instructed to only preserve their own rights, but have, in fact, been commanded to eradicate the evil intentions of those who associate partners with God, on the basis that, were they to fail to act, the oppressors would become so bold that they would try to annihilate all religions.
Muslims have been instructed to preserve and protect the sanctity of all places of worship of all religions, and they have been taught that if they have to assist other religions in compliance with this command, then they must do so. If you act with good intentions then God will help you.
God Almighty has said right from the outset that even if you have to wage a war in order to stop cruelty of the wrongdoers, then do so; God will help you.
And history bears witness to this. The 313 companions of the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw), peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who were totally ill-equipped for war, confronted and defeated a well-equipped force three times bigger than them. This is proof that God is on the side of truth. If any Muslim today acts contrary to these teachings he acts against the commands of Allah.
In view of these teachings, decide with your own hearts whether anyone can raise any fair objection against Islam.
Should the actions of a handful of Muslims, pursuing solely their own interests, be used as a source of torment for the rest of the Muslim world? Most certainly, the heart of any decent person who wishes peace in the world would definitely desire that he should not cause distress to anyone else.
As I said previously, and as you are all aware today, we are holding this function on the 50th anniversary of our mosque, Nur Mosque. From this building the same message has been preached for the past fifty years, that mosques are centres of spreading love, peace, affection and the worship of the One God.
Today, the number of mosques of the Ahmadiyya Community, Ahmadiyya Jama’at in Germany, has reached to almost 35 or 40. You will not hear voices or slogans of hatred or of those who spread disorder from any single one of these mosques. If any voice is raised, it is the call to worship the One God and to fulfil the rights of His Creation. And this is not only in Germany.
The Ahmadiyya Jama’at has thousands of mosques all over the world. From not a single one can it be proved that hatred is being spread, or that even minor distress is caused; nor has it ever happened.
Nonetheless, I say with great sorrow that in the West a wave has been unleashed in some countries, and by certain classes, that, without distinction, every Muslim ought to be considered a terrorist, and that Islam teaches terrorism. From time to time they raise their voices against Islam.
The most recent example is the referendum held in Switzerland, and it has been quoted by two of our honourable speakers: putting a ban on the minarets of mosques. According to newspaper reports, it was German-speaking Swiss people who cast the majority of the votes in favour of the ban.
I cannot understand how changing the shape or cosmetics of the mosque will change the character of those who come to worship at the mosque. If we suppose that mosques are the breeding grounds of teachings of hatred, then by not building minarets will these teachings of hatred suddenly cease? These hatreds and animosities will not cease in this way, rather such acts will cause distress amongst the peace-loving majority of Muslims. Their feelings are being played upon through this action.
On the one hand they claim, I mean the Western Governments, to be secular, and on the other, they place restrictions upon religious freedom. By doing this they have tried to counter extremism with extremism. When these types of thoughtless solutions are employed, then the reaction will likewise be senseless.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, under the supervision of Khilafat, never reacts in a wrong manner. We even respond to abuse with prayers. In certain Muslim countries, there are restrictions on the minarets and arches of our mosques, yet we remain silent. However, non-Ahmadi Muslims can react in an extreme way and this has happened in the past.
Thus I implore all of you, the educated class of Germans, to continue to display the open-heartedness that you have shown in the past. You should certainly acquire the good things from your neighbours but avoid the bad. The minarets of mosques are symbols of spreading light, and from where the call is raised that God is Greatest, and that there is none worthy of worship except Him, and that Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is His Messenger and Servant; come to the mosque to worship because you can only establish peace in the world by developing a relationship with your Creator, with Allah; and come towards success because it is only through worship of Him and by maintaining peace in the world that success can be achieved.
Thus, this is the purpose of the minaret, and if any other voice is raised apart from this, from any minaret, it is against the teachings of Islam. It is the responsibility of the Government to punish such criminals, rather than punishing every peace-loving person for the crimes of one misguided individual.
World peace cannot be achieved in this way. Walls of hatred are certainly erected because of this, and to bring down these walls of hatred the Holy Qur’an has taught us in Chapter 5, verse 9:
O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.
This is Islam’s beautiful teaching: that if the relationship between people and countries can sometimes sour, this does not mean that you can discard the requirements of justice. If you discard the requirements of justice then that will be far removed from righteousness; and one who is far removed from righteousness, has no relationship with God. Such a person’s actions are not for the sake of God, because God says that if you want to come close to Him, then you must discharge the rights of others by fulfilling the requirements of justice. Even your enemy should not suffer unnecessarily from you.
At another place, the Holy Qur’an states that the recompense of an injury should be proportionate to the injury itself, but if one chooses to forgive and that act of forgiveness brings about reformation, then it is better, because the reward for such forgiveness is given by God Himself. These are the methods for the reformation of society and these are the ways for establishing peace that have been taught to us by Islam.
And, according to our beliefs, to give a fresh lease of life to this teaching, Allah sent the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at as the Promised Messiah for this age, who proclaimed the concept of love, affection and peace to bring an end to religious extremism and religious wars. He inclined us to take care of the religious sentiments of others.
This is exactly in accordance with the teachings of Islam: that one should not say anything against even the idols of non-believers, lest they say something about your God, and it destroys the peace of society.
As I said before, speaking ill against the founders of religions and the observance of religious customs creates hatred and destroys peace. The world is immersed in such problems today.
Economic and social problems have caused unrest and such conditions themselves are the cause of creating disorder. Adding religion to this instability is not a sensible idea, even though it is common knowledge that there are some people with vested interests who are in search of creating disarray.
Thus, by reference to today’s function I will request that for the sake of societal peace, we must be considerate of each other’s religious sentiments. In this age, due to our trade and media contacts and fast means of transport, we now call the world a ‘global village’. Therefore, in every country, each religion should have complete freedom, so long as it does not harm the peace of the country.
The followers of any religion should be able to practice their religious customs freely, otherwise if the government will interfere with religion, in this civilised world, such interference will negate their claim to being secular and discharging the rights of others.
I conclude my speech by saying that every person should try to discharge the rights of his Creator and Creation, rather than trying to usurp the rights of mankind, so that peace can be established in the world.
Finally, I would like to once again thank all of you who participated in our function and by doing so displayed your openheartedness.
Thank you very much.
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