Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK
The concept of loyalty and obedience is one that is of the utmost importance to followers of Islam; Muslims follow the teachings of God but also show loyalty to their nation. While there are times when Muslims have been disloyal to their nation, as illustrated by terrorist attacks and occasions of poppy burning, these are in no way indicative of the teachings of Islam.
The Promised Messiah and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad stated:
“To entertain ill-will against a government under whom life is lived in freedom and there is complete security and religious obligations can be discharged to the full is a criminal step and not Jihad” (Tohfah Qaisariyya)
As the second half of October begins the red poppy makes its annual appearance sold to raise funds for the Royal British Legion. In town centres, supermarkets and sports stadiums across the country former soldiers and volunteers brave the chilly autumnal weather to sell poppies, wristbands and pins. With this symbol money is collected for ex-service personnel and the sacrifices made by those serving their country in The Great War and also subsequent wars is commemorated.
Serving one’s country is an act of loyalty and volunteering for the Poppy Appeal is similarly an act of loyalty to our country and each year members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community across the country are able to show love for their nation by volunteering to sell poppies.
In an address at the German Military Headquarters in Koblenz on 30th May 2012, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:
“The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself taught that the ‘love for one’s nation is a part of faith.’ Thus, sincere patriotism is a requirement in Islam. To truly love God and Islam requires a person to love his nation.”
And so we find teams from the Youth Association out in force at Underground stations and major sporting venues raising hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Elders and Women’s Associations are close behind and collect at various locations such as supermarkets and schools across the country. Hundreds of pounds are raised, as well as awareness, at special poppy tea events and with sales of cakes and knitted poppies; this year Aldershot girls have been busy making felt poppies and crocheted wristbands to sell in their schools. Last year Luton and Bedfordshire branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association alone raised over £13,000 showing that women can also be at the forefront.
Ahmadi men and women also represent their local branches by attending and laying wreathes at Remembrance Sunday services across the country. As well as raising money they have become a very visible example of Muslims loyal to their nation.
A visit with our children to the Poppy Factory in Richmond revealed the origins and history of the poppy symbol after the First World War and how it now encompasses different religions with Jewish stars and Muslim crescents produced along with poppy crosses and wreathes. The children were able to speak with volunteers, many of whom were ex service personnel, and ended the day making traditional poppies which left them with an enthusiasm for the cause.
Wars involve nations around the world and sadly take place with bleak regularity. The soldiers who fight in them do so on behalf of their nation and as Remembrance Sunday approaches every year it is these soldiers we think of. I remember my relatives, one who fought in Burma during World War II, another who is still always affectionately referred to by his rank of Colonel rather than Uncle.
As they made sacrifices for their nation so too, in their own small way, do Ahmadi Muslims by raising money and commemorating those who served their nation; with this small act of loyalty they know that they are being obedient to their faith.