Should Islam Really Be Feared…?
The Review of Religions is pleased to present an address given by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, on 9th May 2016, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Attended by politicians, academics, and community leaders, His Holiness spoke of the impending dangers of a Third World War, the refugee crisis, and the obligations of Muslims to those around them.
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Khalifatul Masih Vaba, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:
“All distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of our guests who have kindly accepted our invitation to today’s reception. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a sect within Islam whose purpose and objectives are extremely clear; we seek to bring mankind towards its Creator – God Almighty. We seek to draw the attention of all people towards their responsibilities to their fellow man and the need to treat one another with love, compassion and respect. And we desire and seek to establish true and long-lasting peace in the world. We, Ahmadi Muslims, believe the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to be the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi as foretold by the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet of Islamsa.
Both the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophetsa prophesied certain signs that would testify to the truth of the Promised Messiahas and we believe that they have all been fulfilled in support of the claim of the Founder of our Community. Some of the signs related to the development of the world at the time of the Messiah and Mahdi. For example, it was foretold that he would be sent when modern technology and the means of communication had developed to such an extent that people in different parts of the world would be brought together and at a time when the press and media had been established.
Furthermore, the Holy Prophetsa prophesied of a great heavenly sign that would accompany the advent of the Promised Messiahas and that was the eclipse of the sun and moon during certain prescribed days in the month of Ramadan. And following the claim of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community this heavenly sign was gloriously fulfilled to the letter in the Eastern hemisphere in 1894 and in the Western hemisphere in 1895.
Thus, having observed how the signs and prophecies of the Qur’an and the Holy Prophetsa were unequivocally fulfilled in his favour, we Ahmadi Muslims believe our Founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian, to be the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi. We believe that he came as a beacon of truth to convey the true and resplendent teachings of Islam to the entire world. He implored the people of the world to live together in peace and inculcated within his followers human sympathy and compassion.
Indeed, the Promised Messiahas once said:
“To love mankind and to show compassion to others is an immense form of worship of God Almighty and an outstanding means of attaining His pleasure and rewards.”
Therefore, according to our beliefs, Islam teaches that until a Muslim fulfills the rights of mankind he or she cannot fulfil the rights owed to God Almighty. Indeed on certain occasions the rights owed to one’s fellow human beings supersede and take priority even above and beyond the rights owed to Allah the Almighty.
In short, Islam stipulates that only when a person fulfills the rights of other people, irrespective of who they are or what they believe, can he or she be classed as a true Muslim. Following his demise in 1908, the Promised Messiahas was succeeded by the institution of Khilafat (Caliphate), whose purpose was, and continues to be, to advance the Promised Messiah’sas mission of propagating Islam’s true teachings to all parts of the world. I shall now present some of Islam’s true teachings and seek to clarify some common misconceptions about the religion.
Islam counsels mankind to discard all forms of hatred, enmity and malice and instead to unite under a banner of love and mutual respect. It advocates the establishment of peace and justice at all levels of society and between all people. Thus, in chapter 5, verse 9 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty has said:
“O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of 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.”
In this verse, Allah has commanded Muslims to treat all people, including even their enemies and opponents, with fairness and justice. Thus, Islam does not permit cruelty or wrongdoing under any circumstances. Without doubt, the Holy Prophetsa of Islam established the very highest standards of religious freedom and tolerance in the world.
A prime example of this was the way in which the Holy Prophetsa treated and respected the Jewish community and other non-Muslims after his migration to Madinah following years of persecution in his hometown of Makkah. Most of the local people of Madinah accepted Islam and so they welcomed the Holy Prophetsa and accepted him, not only as their religious leader, but they also elected him as the leader of the State.
Nonetheless, there remained a significant Jewish community in Madinah and also of other non-Muslims. Thus, upon being chosen as the leader of the State, the Holy Prophetsa established a covenant of peace with the Jews and the other groups, based upon the principles of universal religious freedom and tolerance. According to the covenant, the religious freedoms of the Jews and the other non-Muslim communities were protected and guaranteed by the Holy Prophet of Islamsa.
History proves that the Holy Prophetsa never violated the terms of this treaty and that under his rule the religious rights and freedoms of the non-Muslims were always upheld. This is a clear refutation to those who allege that Islam permits anti-Semitism or any form of religious discrimination. Another example of the magnificent moral character of the Holy Prophetsa was displayed when he was visited by a delegation of Christians from the city of Najran. Upon learning that they wished to pray, he offered them his own mosque to worship, according to their Christian customs and beliefs.
Another charge that is often levelled at Islam is that it was spread violently by the sword. This allegation is completely unfounded and indeed nothing could be further from the truth. All of the wars fought during the life of the Holy Prophetsa and the four rightly guided Caliphs who succeeded him, were entirely defensive in nature, where war had been forced upon them. And even where war had been forced upon the Muslims, they still sought to protect and respect the revered places of other religions and their respected figures.
Yet sadly in today’s world, we see that the blessed character of the Holy Prophetsa has been grievously assassinated. Even here in Denmark, some years ago, there were cartoons printed that sought to ridicule the Foundersa of Islam and to portray him, God forbid, as an imperialistic leader and belligerent warmonger.
This unjust portrayal of the Holy Prophetsa defies history and defies the truth.
The reality was that the Holy Prophetsa was forever enslaved by his determination to establish peace and the rights of humanity.
Indeed, when Allah the Almighty first gave the Holy Prophetsa permission to wage a defensive war against the Makkans, it was given in order to defend the institution of religion, rather than merely to defend Islam.
That is why in chapter 22, verses 40-41, of the Holy Qur’an, Allah proclaimed that if the aggressors were not stopped then they would not limit themselves to attacking the innocent Muslims but their ultimate aim was to destroy all forms of religion. Allah very clearly states that if the Makkans were not forcefully repelled then no church, synagogue, temple, mosque or the place of worship of any religion would remain safe.
These verses make it categorically clear that when the Muslims were permitted to engage in a defensive war, it was granted in order to defend all religions and all beliefs, rather than for the sake of conquering lands or to spread cruelty. Given this, it is a means of extreme grief for a true Muslim to hear the opponents of Islam claim that the Holy Prophetsa was motivated by a thirst for power and a lust for empire building.
The Holy Prophetsa neither sought power and nor did he engage in any war in order to forcefully spread Islam or to compel others to become Muslim. His only motivation was to establish peace and universal religious freedom. Therefore, it is the duty of a true Muslim to forever protect and value all religions, whether it be Christianity, Judaism or any other. The Holy Prophetsa taught that during warfare only those people who were directly engaged in the war could be fought. He gave strict instructions that no innocent person was ever to be attacked. No woman, child or elderly person was ever to be targeted. He taught that no religious leader or priest could be attacked and nor could any place of worship. The Holy Prophetsa further taught that no person could be compelled to convert to Islam.
Despite these noble teachings, it is a source of huge regret that in the wars being fought today, we regularly see incidents of indiscriminate firing or bombardment in which innocent and defenceless civilians – women, children and the elderly – are being mercilessly killed. The Muslims involved in such barbaric behaviour serve only to defame the name of their religion and are to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Nonetheless, such ignorance and evil amongst the Muslims was bound to occur because the Holy Prophetsa foretold of this very state of affairs wherein the Muslims would completely forget the teachings of their religion. It was to be at such a time that Allah would send the Promised Messiahas to revive Islam and to establish a righteous community who acted upon its true teachings.
Further, it cannot be said that the non-Muslim world remains entirely innocent or blameless. Certainly, there are also some non-Muslim powers, who in spite of claiming to be fighting for the sake of peace, have also been guilty of killing or maiming innocent civilians in different parts of the world through indiscriminate warfare. Anyway, the truth is that the Muslim governments of today are not governing according to the true Islamic principles, which are of honesty, integrity and justice for all.
Wherever and whenever Islam’s true teachings have actually been practiced their beauty and beneficence have been appreciated by all. For instance, during the era of Hazrat Umarra, the second successor to the Holy Prophetsa, Islam spread to Syria and a Muslim government was formed. As part of its governance, a civic tax was collected from the Christian citizens of the nation, but later the Muslim government returned the tax because the Roman Empire had seized control and the Muslim rulers were no longer able to protect the members of the public or fulfil their rights.
The Muslim leaders had no option but to leave and this caused a great deal of distress to the non-Muslims who had lived under their rule. They became extremely emotional and pleaded for the Muslims to return and prayed fervently for this. Without any hesitation they proclaimed their desire for the Muslims to rule them again and to protect them from the injustices of the Roman Empire.
Later, when the Muslims were able to return, the first to celebrate were the non-Muslims, who knew that their rights would be upheld once again. Certainly, the early Muslims were entirely just and fair in all matters. For example, once a case was submitted before Hazrat Umarra, the second Caliph of Islam, in which one party was a Muslim and the other was a Jew.
After listening to their respective cases, Hazrat Umarra found in favour of the Jewish person and against the Muslim. Islam also teaches that it is extremely important to care for the feelings and sentiments of others. Once during a conversation with a Jewish person, Hazrat Abu Bakrra, who was the closest confidant of the Holy Prophetsa, said that the status of the Prophet of Islamsa was greater than the status of the Prophet Mosesas.
Upon hearing this, the Jewish man complained to the Holy Prophetsa.
Hearing this, the Holy Prophetsa rebuked Hazrat Abu Bakrra and said he ought to have respected the feelings of the Jewish man.
Even though what Hazrat Abu Bakrra had said was in accordance with Islamic belief, the Holy Prophetsa instructed that a Muslim should not make such a claim in front of a Jewish person as it could cause them pain or offence. This teaching of the Holy Prophetsa was extremely profound and the basis for establishing peace between the people of different faiths and beliefs.
However today, we see that in the name of freedom of expression, prophets and saintly figures are routinely mocked and ridiculed, even though there are millions of people who follow their teachings and who cannot bear to see them derided in this manner. If we truly desire peace in the world, we need to think of the consequences of our words and deeds. We need to be respectful of the beliefs and values of others. This is the way to break down barriers and to knock down the walls of enmity and resentment that have been erected in so many parts of the world. Certainly establishing peace is the most critical and urgent need of the time. This should be our foremost ambition and objective. No one can deny that the hateful and wicked acts of certain Muslims have significantly contributed to many of the conflicts that are witnessed today.
However, it should be absolutely clear that the reason they are involved in such cruelties is because they have moved far away from the true teachings of Islam. Furthermore, there are certain non-Muslim worldly powers that are also fanning the flames of conflict through their unjust acts and policies. Anyway, if one reads the Holy Qur’an and assesses the life of the Holy Prophetsa through a lens of justice, rather than through a lens of prejudice, they will soon realise that Islam is a religion of peace. They will realise that the Holy Prophetsa desired peace with every fibre of his being. They will realise that the Qur’an’s teachings are of love for all of humanity.
Today, we are living at a time of increasing instability and uncertainty and so every person, in every part of the world, needs to take individual responsibility towards establishing peace. Conflicts continue to ignite and burn throughout the world and so let us not be in any doubt that the shadow of a fateful war looms before us. Alliances and blocs are rapidly forming before our eyes and so it is my grave fear that we are charging madly towards a calamitous Third World War without pause for thought.
In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say that the roots of such a war have already taken hold. If we wish to save ourselves, and more importantly, if we wish to protect our children and future generations from the torment of war and its destructive consequences, then we must fulfil the rights of our Creator and the rights of one another. We must care for and respect each other, regardless of any differences of caste, creed or colour.
And we must value and respect the religious and national sentiments of one another. There is no doubt that the Muslim Governments of today have failed their people and have unjustly seized their rights and consequently extremist and terrorist groups have taken advantage and gained in strength. Those groups are now wreaking havoc and destruction, not only in the Muslim world, but have also spread their networks of terror to the West.
Thus, a fear of Islam and Muslims, has taken root and continues to increase. Once again, I wish to make it clear that the horrific acts of such so-called Muslims do not represent the teachings of the religion itself but rather they have their own vested interests. In light of what I have said, I would also urge and request the Western leaders and politicians to understand their responsibilities and instead of keeping good relations with the Muslim leaders for their own political or financial gains, they must utilise whatever influence they have to impartially guide and help the Muslim governments towards creating peace. Otherwise they would be equally held responsible for ruining world peace.
These days there is increasing fear and trepidation amongst the people of Europe due to the fact that so many refugees have entered this Continent over the past year. It should be kept in mind that the vast majority of the refugees have sought shelter in the West because of the desperate cruelties and devastation they have faced in their own countries. However, the truth is that no single country, and in fact no continent, has the capability to absorb the millions of people who are fleeing their war-torn countries. Thus the only solution is to formulate a genuine framework for peace in their countries of origin and to try and bring an end to the cruelty in their homelands.
Consequently, I once again ask all of the guests, and in particular the politicians and influential figures present, that they should not waste any opportunity in working for world peace because the alternative does not bear contemplating. As I have already said, a Third World War is swiftly approaching and if it is not stopped in its tracks its catastrophic effects will surely last for generations, because a world war today is more than likely to include the use of nuclear weapons. The effects of such a war are unimaginable and impossible to comprehend.
May Allah grant sense and wisdom to the people of the world. May He, through His infinite grace and mercy, protect all of us and enable mankind to live together in peace and harmony and to fulfil each other’s rights at all times. May we soon emerge from the bitter conflicts of today to a better and brighter future in which all nations and all groups are able to live side by side and in which a spirit of love, compassion and humanity prevails.
With these words I would like to once again thank you all for joining us today. Thank you very much.”