Features

Pain and Suffering; Is There A Purpose?

Pain & Suffering blog

Nabila Khalid, Bolton

I have heard too many people deny the existence of God, with the rationale that if there was a ‘good’ God why would a He allow suffering?

If suffering is a punishment of our sins, then why do bad things happen to good people?

If suffering is due to free will then how does that explain congenital and hereditary conditions? It is evident that these questions are as a result of a superficial view of suffering and a very naive way of thinking that…

Suffering is bad – If there was no suffering, the world would be a better place – There is suffering so either (A) there is no God, or (B) God is bad.

Because on a deeper look you realise that it isn’t as simple as suffering or no suffering. Of course this question of evil and suffering is one that many philosophers and religious scholars have tried to answer.

In his book ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’, the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad has devoted a full chapter to the question of suffering.

1 – WHAT IS SUFFERING?

Suffering is not an independent entity – it is an awareness of the absence of happiness and comfort, just as our sense of darkness comes from our awareness of the absence of light. If we want to get rid of suffering we would have to forego the sense of comfort and relief.

When a patient of depression and anxiety disorders undergoes treatment from a therapist – one of the steps involved is a realisation that we must accept and experience our pains rather than try to escape them. From a biological point of view experiencing a small amount of pain is necessary to protect us from further damage by triggering the withdrawal reflex.

Pain is a necessity for evolution as the following explains:

‘Pain as an evolutionary necessity’ is a title that may rise an immediate rejection, if it is not clear that the term is here referred to the acute pain that signals a risk: the risk that the disease, which pain is part of, could reversibly damage or even destroy without any possibility of appeal the physical or mental integrity of one of us.

The inherited condition known as congenital insensitivity to pain is a frequent cause of premature death due to complications of trauma and injuries. This is probably the most striking evidence of the defensive role carried by our ability in perceiving pain”
2 – WHO SUFFERS & WHY THEM?

The explanation that all suffering is a punishment for our crimes is incomplete and flawed because clearly this cannot explain many forms of suffering such as natural disasters or genetic conditions. Not all suffering can be categorised as a punishment, nor all happiness as a reward.

We must recognise that cause and effect is not the same as crime and punishment. Although some cases of suffering can be attributed to being a punishment of man’s own actions, other cases are in fact the cause for which the effect is evolution
“Surveys reveal people with disabilities consistently report a quality of life as good as, or sometimes even better than, that of non-disabled people.”

“Immediately after the onset of injury or disease, one can feel profoundly depressed, and even contemplate suicide. Yet after a period of time, people adapt to their new situation, re-evaluate their attitude to the disability, and start making the most of it. Sometimes, they are driven to greater achievements than before.”

But imagine a scenario where every child is born equally healthy. We would still be unhappy because we are all born looking different which causes a lot of psychological suffering for those who are perceived to be unattractive. So then for the creator to be fair, we must all have the exact same appearance. And then that would lead the question to the psychological suffering due to differences in intellect. Ultimately, we would all have to be clones for there to be complete fairness.
WHAT WOULD THE ABSENCE OF SUFFERING LOOK LIKE?

In short:
1. There cannot be evolution
2. There would be no invention
3. There must be no variation
4. There must be no free will
5. We would all be a senseless mass of vegetation
6. Therefore, there would also be no happiness
“We must go back all the way in the history of life; all the way to the very beginning and start to build the ladder of evolution anew, rung by rung. But try as we may, we are bound to get stuck at the very first step, the starting point of life. We would not be able to take a single step forward because an equal distribution of happiness and total absence of suffering would entirely eliminate the impetus for evolution. There would be no struggle for existence, no natural selection, no survival of the fittest. Not a single progressive step would be taken by the first, most rudimentary forms of life.”

Is a world with no suffering really a better world? Would we all be happier? Given the choice between a meaningless and vegetative but pain-free existence or one with pain, purpose and progression the majority of us, if not all, would chose the latter.

Suffering proves the existence of a conscious God. It proves that there is a plan and a purpose for our existence, one which has been thought through to such detail and designed at microscopic levels that we cannot even comprehend at a first glance.

“Blessed is He in whose hand is the kingdom, and He has power over all things;
Who has created death and life that He might try you—which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Most Forgiving.”

(Holy Quran, 67:2-3)

 

A Point of View: Happiness and disability

https://www.alislam.org/library/books/RRKT.pdf

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Features

The Importance of Truth in a World of ‘Fake News’

Truth blog

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

I grew up hearing the saying of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) being repeated to me. ‘Truth saves, falsehood destroys’. I never really questioned it. Of course, the truth saves! It is only very recently, when I have seen the lines between fact and fiction being blurred, that I have taken a more invested approach to the truth and its necessity.

It seems that within a few years a war has been waged on the media in a battle for truth. As journalists and news outlets came under fire for ‘fake news’ (indeed, ‘fake news’ was even named as a Collins Dictionary word of the year), there has been a great cultural shift towards searching for this truth and questioning whether it even exists. It is a time where we must look around us and try to find, amongst all the uncertainty and rumours, glimpses of truth and uncover them so that they may dazzle brighter than any lie told. Indeed, before we embark on uncovering the greatest truths of the world, we must look towards ourselves and put ourselves under harsh interrogation. Are we complicit in allowing the creation of an untrustworthy atmosphere?

Perhaps my first realisation regarding the truth was understanding that lying is a coward’s tool. It is an escape route for those who do not have the conviction to follow through with their beliefs or their actions. It’s a valid point, there have been moments and places in history (and regrettably, even in the present) where it is not easy to find comfort in the conviction of our beliefs, no matter how moral they may be. However, truth, in the face of even tyranny, is paramount and whilst the stakes may be higher than imaginable, surely Allah the Almighty lets no good deed go to waste.

In this situation, the example that Hadhrat Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) left for us is most inspiring.
Hadhrat Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) was a slave and therefore when he accepted Islam, he was subjected to the cruellest of punishments and torture by his owner Ummayya who whipped him and forced him to lie on hot sand, had him dragged through the streets until he bled ceaselessly. He was told the torture would only stop if he renounced Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His only reply was ‘Ahad, Ahad’ – ‘God is only One’.

Despite the pain his body suffered, he remained truthful to his beliefs. Indeed, his conviction to his true belief ‘saved’ him, as he had a very dear place in the heart of the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The Holy Qur’an states ‘And confound not truth with falsehood nor hide the truth, knowingly.’ It is this word ‘confounds’ that fascinates me. There is a clear indication that the two can be confused, though they must not be. Words revealed to the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be on him) over 1,400 years ago seem to perfectly encapsulate today’s war on truth.

Why are the lines so blurred? Have they always been so blurred? I would argue that they blur when we lose sight of our goals. When the consequence of a lie seems more attractive than that of the truth, it is not difficult to disguise lies as truths. Today we see politicians and media personalities chasing power and wealth through lies that are only fractioning society. If, instead, our sights were collectively placed on what is truly beneficial for us all, the truth would be the one to guide our narratives and thus lead us to bettering our world for the present and the future. Once we face the truth head on and see our flaws we will be forced to overcome them and make peace with them, leading us to a harmonious society that is forever improving, as opposed to fashioning tales of our unquestionable superiority and thus ignoring our faults which are only left to fester and breed more faults.

The truth is not always easy to tell. Nor is it easy to face. But indisputably it is that which is best for us. It forces us to interrogate ourselves and guides us on the road to self-improvement. Whether it is a matter of a personal truth or part of a larger narrative with national and global consequences, honesty is what will lead us to peace and harmony. To confuse truth with falsehood is a slippery slope; sometimes we even believe our own lies. Let us not slip so much that we lose sight of our priorities only to wake up one day not recognising ourselves or our surroundings, that we have been complicit in creating. We cannot expect to arrive to a moral outcome using immoral means.

i. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Sayyedna-Bilal.pdf

ii. Holy Qur’an Chapter 2 Verse 43 English translation by Maulvi Sher Ali(ra)

Islam · Women

Mothers

Mothers-blog

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

On Mothering Sunday children all over Britain show love for their mothers by giving cards and gifts, often of flowers and chocolates. However while the gesture is a lovely one, we don’t actually need a special day to show our love and appreciation; we should be doing this every day. After all as the person who has done so much for us our mother deserves more than just a single ‘day’.

“…His mother bears him with pain, and brings him forth with pain. And the bearing of him and his weaning takes thirty months…” Holy Qur’an 46:16 (1)

For nine months they carried us with their bodies changing as we developed, their discomfort increasing, until they gave birth through pain and danger. They overcame exhaustion as they themselves recovered to feed and care for us, watching carefully as we strengthened and grew. They taught us about God, about the world, about ourselves as they satisfied our inquisitive natures. They prayed for us with pain and love from the heart as only mothers can do.

There is great regard for mothers in the teachings of Islam as illustrated by verses in the Holy Qur’an which help us understand what they go through, as well verses advocating good treatment of parents. Also in traditions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) where he has emphasised the importance of mothers and reminded followers of all she went through:

“A person came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and complained that his mother was ill-tempered. The Holy Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, `She was not ill-tempered when she kept you in her womb for nine months.’ The person insisted, `Sir, I am telling you the truth that she is ill-tempered.’ The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, `She was not ill-tempered when she used to keep awake the whole night for your sake and fed you.’ The man replied, `I have recompensated all the favours of my mother.’ The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) then asked: `How have you recompensated her?’ He replied, `I have helped her perform Hajj by putting her on my shoulders.’ After hearing this, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) put a question to the complainant, `Can you recompensate the painful pangs your mother bore at the time of your birth?”(2)

The pain and difficulty involved in the process of carrying a child and giving birth naturally creates an unbreakable bond of love between mothers and their children, a bond continued as they bring up their children, caring for them, teaching them right from wrong and laying the foundations for their children to become productive members of society.

As His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V said:

“Remember that the key for any nation to thrive and progress lies in the hands of the mothers of that nation.” (3)

What a responsibility to hold, that of nation builders, and also what a great honour!

Today and every day all children should remember their mothers with love and appreciation for everything they have done and should pray for them.

“Paradise lies under the feet of mothers”(4) the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once said; with the prayers of our mothers, our living up to their wishes and praying for them too we can fulfil this.

 

References:
(1) https://www.alislam.org/quran/view/?page=596&region=E2
(2) https://www.alislam.org/library/misc/treatment-of-parents-islamic-teachings/
(3)  http://www.reviewofreligions.org/13025/the-equality-of-women-and-their-role-in-society/
(4) https://www.alislam.org/library/books/WisdomOfHolyProphet.pdf p14
Features · Islam

Emancipation: Islamic Teachings on Slavery

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Arfa Yassir, Swindon

Islam believes in the growth and nourishment of the human heart, soul and mind. It emancipates and liberates the person. It gives him freedom of choice to direct his life. ‘Slavery’ deprives a person of freedom given to him by God. In de jure slavery, known as traditional slavery or chattel slavery or simply slavery is a system in which property laws are applied to people and people are bought and sold like commodities and used as labour force.

Slavery was a source of economic benefit and hence was widely practised in the world. There are heart wrenching accounts of many slaves especially those enslaved in the Americas in works of history and fiction especially the Atlantic slave trade. Britain has also been a part of it and cities such as Bristol, London and Liverpool grew rich off the trade. (i)

An article in The Guardian published in 2015 rightly points out that roots of racism in Europe may well be traced back to slavery and Colonialism (ii).

At the time of the advent of Islam slavery legally existed in almost all countries. Islam had a twofold approach towards it. Firstly there were steps towards betterment of slaves and gradual emancipation, as freeing all slaves at once was not feasible because it would induce jobless, helpless and unprotected people into the wider society all at once. Secondly there were steps to abolish slavery altogether.

For their betterment Islam enjoins its followers to treat slaves with kindness as the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) taught his followers to treat slaves in a very kind and gentle manner by taking care of their food, clothing and work load (iii). The base of these teachings being, as stated by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be on him): “do you not know there is God above you Who has far greater power over you than you seem to have over your slave” (iv).

Islam adapts several methods for the permanent emancipation of slaves; it not only considers freeing of a slave as an act of virtue (v), but also prescribes freeing of a slave (if possible) as an expiation of several offences. (vi)

Other mandatory methods for the emancipation of slaves include (vii):

* Punishment for beating a slave is to set him free.
* If the slave is a relative of the master he is automatically set free.
* If a slave is owned by two people and one of them sets him free, he must pay the co-partner to earn complete freedom for the slave. If he cannot afford to do so, the slave must be set free to earn and pay the money.
* The slaves who had fled from Mecca were not given back to their masters so they could be saved from slavery and infidelity.
* If any person, at that time, entered into matrimonial relationship with a female slave and she begot a child, she was set free.

Islam also provisions ‘mukatabat’ (deed of manumission, or contract of liberation) (viii) as per the will of the slaves and not their masters. So they may be set free and earn the money to pay back to their masters. This is clearly stated in the Holy Qur’an 24:34.

Today slavery is outlawed in all recognised countries of the world, but certain forms of slavery still exist in which a person is de facto forced to work against their own will. It includes human trafficking, debt bondage, unwilling domestic servants and forced marriage. Trafficked humans are used for sexual slavery, forced labour, forced marriage etc. Islam gives a just economic system along with giving due rights to men and women according to their role in society hence leaving no room for slavery of any kind. The Islamic state, according to the Holy Qur’an, is instructed to spend money for the emancipation of slaves and debtors (ix).

The purpose of our existence as described by the Holy Qur’an is to manifest God’s attributes in ourselves. A person who is held under the custody of another person has a limited horizon of thought and action and Islam stands against this.

References:

i http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6185756.stm
ii https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/08/european-racism-africa-slavery
iii Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 7-11
iv Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 11
v Al-Qur’an 90: 9-17
vi Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 13-15
vii Islam and Slavery by: Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad p. 15-18
viii Al-Qur’an 24:34
ix Al-Qur’an 9:60

Uncategorized

23 March 1889: A New Chapter in the History of Islam

MasihMaudDay1

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) claimed to be the awaited Messiah and the Imam Mahdi. He was born in 1835 in a remote village named Qadian, in the Punjab, India. The small village of Qadian was then without any link with the rest of India – there was no railway station, no post office, no police station, no school, and no printing press. His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was divinely inspired to revive Islam.

His mission was to unify mankind through love and peaceful means by preaching the benevolent message of Islam in its pristine purity.  He wrote books and articles, distributed leaflets, and entered in debates with his opponents in defence of Islam. The opponents of Islam were stunned seeing the powerful arguments presented by him.  However, he made it very clear that victory of Islam would be through cogent and logical arguments, prayers, by showing heavenly signs and manifesting high moral standards by its followers as spiritual models for others. He repeatedly emphasised that Islam will triumph not by the use of force; but through the ‘Jihad’ of the pen.

In January 1889, under Divine direction, he published a notice calling upon those who would join him by making a solemn pledge at his hand (the pledge is known as the Bai’at) to have firm faith in God and to live a life in full accordance with the teachings of Islam. The pledge contained ten undertakings on oath. Those are known as the ten conditions of the initiation to enter in the fold of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.  They encompass the very essence of Islam.

On 23 March in 1889, a formal ceremony for the pledge of initiation took place at the hand of His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad by 40 persons. Many more joined him in days to follow, and in this way the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community came into existence 130 years ago.

As for the mission of the Ahmadiyya Islam, the Promised Messiah said:

“The task for which God has appointed me is that by removing the obstacles which have been set up between man and his Maker, I should re-establish in the hearts of men love and devotion to God, and by making manifest the truth, should put an end to all religious wars and strife, and thus lay the foundation of abiding peace, and should acquaint mankind with the spiritual truths which it had forgotten, and should demonstrate to the world the true spiritual life which has been displaced by materialistic desires, and should in my own life manifest those Divine powers with which man has been endowed, and those can be manifested only through prayer and devotion; and above all that I should permanently re-establish that bright and pure Unity of God purified from all polytheistic ideas, which are entirely disappeared from the hearts of men.” [i]

At his passing away, the Community elected a leader from his devoted followers to continue his mission. In this way, a non-political Khilafat or caliphate was establishment. It was the beginning of a Spiritual Khilafat through Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – which continues till this day. Presently, the Ahmadiyya Muslims have fifth Khalifa whose name is His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

Administratively, the Khalifa heads all departments or ministries of the organization, such as religious education, moral training, preaching, finances, social services and public relations.

The Ahmadiyya Khalifa instructs the members to remain loyal to their specific countries, and to obey the laws of the land where they live.  Ahmadiyya Khilafat conforms to the separation of Church and State.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims Communities are now established in over 200 countries of the world, and wherever possible, the Community builds mosques, mission houses, hospitals and schools.

The present head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad leads a global campaign to promote the peaceful message of Islam through all forms of print and digital media.  He has travelled globally to promote peace and facilitate service to humanity. Over the past several years he has been alerting world leaders to take concrete steps to avert the danger of World War III. He has written letters to the political leaders of Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UK, France, Germany, USA and China to try their utmost to avert the destruction the world appears to be heading towards. Those letters are all compiled in a small book “World Crisis and Pathway to Peace.”

[i] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Ahmadiyyat-or-The-True-Islam.pdf

 

Features

Water Of Life

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Manaal Rehman, Cheam

‘Ma’a’ is the Arabic word for water, which appears in the Holy Qur’an 63 times. And throughout the Holy Qur’an, we are reminded that it is a blessing from God Almighty.

“Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass, then We opened them out? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (21:31)

This verse indicates that water is crucial to the survival of mankind and planet Earth itself. For centuries, the land of Mecca was a barren desert. Only after Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) left his child and wife in this desert, did Allah miraculously allow water to flow. And it was the inception of Ab-e-Zamzam, the well which sprang from the ground, which led to the habitation of this barren desert, known as the Holy place of Ka’aba.

And again, Allah reminds us: “And He it is Who has created man from water…” (25:55). We now know that 60% of the human body and 71% of the planet consists of water alone, making it a fundamental element to our existence. Thus, Allah Almighty made this relatively recent discovery by science very clear to us over 1400 years ago.

However, pollution, changing weather patterns and global warming is proving to be detrimental to our water supply. Toxic waste dumps, plastic bags and sewage is making, once pure water, untouchable, let alone drinkable and usable.

“And We sent down water from the sky according to measure, and We caused it to stay in the earth — and surely it is We Who determine its taking away —” (23:19)

In this verse, Allah Almighty warns us that He has blessed mankind with water and it is He alone who can take it away from us as well. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) has told us that ‘Muslims are equal partners in three things; water, grass and fuel.’ Thus, he reminded us that no individual has sole ownership of any natural resource, and they must be sustained and used responsibly. In addition to this, Allah Almighty has reminded us in the Holy Qur’an to not be wasteful.

“O children of Adam! look to your adornment at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but exceed not the bounds; surely, He does not love those who exceed the bounds.” (7:32).

The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), stated that ‘Cleanliness is half of your faith.’ And it goes without saying that water is essential to one’s physical cleanliness, which naturally reflects onto one’s spiritually as well. Thus, Allah has blessed us with water, to not only give us life but purify our physical and spiritual state.

Yet many, if not all of us take it for granted. His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (May Allah be his Helper), who is the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, stated on the 9th of June 2015: “Here in the West it is common for people to waste water but I personally spent 8 years living in Africa and so I have seen for myself how desperate for water those people are. Young children, no older than 7 or 8, have to walk for miles with large water vessels balanced on their heads in order to retrieve water from dirt-filled ponds.” He reminded us that we are privileged to have constant access to water and the struggle that millions of people face in having access to water, due to it being a basic necessity for our survival. i

Thus, I would like to request my readers to always make a conscious effort to conserve this precious resource because, given the current state of our planet, we do not know how much longer we will continue to have sustained access to this truly amazing natural resource for. I would like to urge you all to give the water the respect it deserves as a blessing from Allah.

Reference: http://www.pressahmadiyya.com/press-releases/2015/06/new-ahmadiyya-mosque-opened-in-vechta-germany-by-head-of-the-ahmadiyya-muslim-community/

Islam · Women

Balance for Better

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By Navida Sayed, Hounslow

From the boardroom to the political and social domain, women’s achievements are being celebrated across the globe today on International Women’s Day 2019; the theme ‘Balance for Better’ aims towards a more gender-balanced world. While the emphasis is on the successes and achievements of women this day is also a time for reflection on the societal hurdles and challenges to equality still faced by women today. Regardless of making huge leaps and bounds to improve the legal status of women in many parts of the world, equality is far from being a reality. International Women’s Day is marked as one day of the year, but if it became a daily way of life, where women in society would be treated equally and with respect at every level then communities would thrive. The question arises how can we achieve balance for better what does Islam say about this?

Islam has granted women a position of dignity and honour and was the first religion to formally grant women a status never known before. The moral, spiritual and economic equality of men and women as propagated by Islam is unquestionable.

Wearing the Hijab, does not restrict a Muslim woman’s role. She is encouraged to seek education and is not restricted in pursuing a professional career. If a woman pursues a career her husband has absolutely no right to demand anything from his wife’s income, property or wealth and Islam gives her the right to spend it as she wishes.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s organisation is a successful role model of a women’s only organisation; Lajna Ima’illah means “maidservants of Allah” in other words women who can serve their faith and community to the utmost. The organisation was founded by the second successor to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who was thefounder of the Ahmadiyya Community, His Holiness Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him). He felt that the vigorous participation of Ahmadi women was as essential for the success of the Community as that of men, and started activating them for this purpose. In pursuance of this objective in 1922, he wrote a letter to some prominent ladies in the Community, detailing therein the role, which Ahmadi women should play to make Islam go further ahead. He called upon them to disseminate his views among their sisters, win their sympathies for his plans and to form an association to help the resurgence of Islam. This led to the establishment of Lajna Ima’illah. An extract from the letter says:

‘The efforts of our women along with our men are equally necessary for attaining the objects of our creation… Reflection will show that most women do not realise if there is any work to be done other than the daily chores… Apart from their own spiritual, intellectual and moral uplift, the future progress of the Jama’at (Community) is greatly dependent upon the role played by our women in this respect…. Moreover the reformation of women can be better effected by other women.” (i)

The women’s organisation today works globally alongside their male counterparts under the direct guidance of the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper).

Ahmadi Muslim women around the world have their own mosque areas, offices and at Jalsa Salana (annual convention) an entire ladies arena to themselves.

The Lajna Ima’illah have office bearers and teams of women in all departments such as health & safety, security, registration, administration, press & media, audio visual, camera crew, Voice of Islam radio, hospitality, Humanity First, discipline, first aid, exhibitions and much more. All the women are volunteers and come from academic and professional backgrounds including housewives, working in unison with the men all united as one on a day to day basis.

We also have equal access to and distribution of resources between women and men and as Ahmadi Muslim women we feel empowered as we experience gender equality through equal responsibility and participation of women and men in all spheres of public and private life exactly in accordance with the teachings of Islam. As a result, in Islam men and women are valued equally bringing balance.

i. The Constitution of The Lajna Imaillah Silsila ‘Aliya Ahmadiyya pages 1-2

Features · Islam

The Animal Kingdom

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Zujaja Khan, London

In His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad’s Friday Sermon on 18 March 2016, he related a story from the childhood of His Holiness Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him), Second Caliph and son of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him). His Holiness Musleh Maud recounted that when he was a young boy, he hunted a parrot and brought this home to his father, who said:

“Mahmood, eating of its flesh is not forbidden but every animal is not for [human] consumption.” The Promised Messiah (peace be on him) explained that some animals are pleasing to look at while others have fine voices which are pleasurable to listen [to]. Thus different animals please different senses and all animals should not be used simply for the sense of taste.i

His Holiness Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him)’s memory of his father’s words left an impression on him, and taught him that all of Allah’s creatures have their own purpose to serve. The treatment of animals and the appreciation of their unique qualities are mentioned many times in the Holy Qur’an, and thus it is our duty as Muslims to ensure we follow these teachings and are kind to all creatures, humans and animals alike. One example of this in the Holy Qur’an is:

“And in your own creation and in that of all the creatures which He scatters in the earth are Signs for a people who possess firm faith.” (45:5)

Discoveries about the capacity of the human body continue to amaze scientists around the world, and prove time and again that Allah’s creations are so intricately and purposefully designed. The same can be said for the boundless information we uncover about animals each day. Only a few weeks ago a study confirmed that honey bees are capable of understanding arithmetic. Now, the benefit or need for this is disputable, but what is clear is that in every new piece of information we discover about animals, the signs of Allah’s omnipotence are irrefutable.

As a young girl, I was equal parts terrified of and fascinated by animals. I watched countless documentaries about dolphins and whales with my parents, scribbling down every little detail that came up so that I could tell my teachers. When I was 10 years old, I wrote a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister to protest the treatment of baby harp seals (this letter, I later discovered, was never posted). At primary school I started a petition to close all zoos in the UK, and asked for donations for a wildlife reserve. And through all of this, I would still run as far from a wandering dog in the park as my legs could carry me (sometimes I’m still tempted).

I don’t know where this love for animals came from, but I always felt a deep connection to the wider world through them. I still can’t quite explain my intense feelings of awe and kinship when I listen to the sounds of whales underwater, or watch polar bear cubs emerge from their snow dens for the first time. We are reminded through the acute adaptations of each animal that Allah’s designs are flawless, and heed our respect. Indeed, was it not a spider’s web that lay across the entrance to the Cave Thaur that protected the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) from being seen by his enemies?

The beauty and breadth of Allah’s creations are a wonderful reminder of the Almighty’s sublime creativity. In the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)’s own life, he was known to be a champion for the kind treatment of animals. It is related by Abdullah bin Mas‘udra that on a journey with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), the group saw two young doves in a nest. The group caught the small doves, but when the mother of the doves returned she was distressed to not find her little ones. The dove flew wildly, and when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) saw this, he said “If any one of you has caught its young ones he must release them at once to comfort it.”ii

The examples of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the teachings of the Holy Qur’an show us that kindness to Allah’s creations should be a steadfast notion in the hearts of Muslims. We live during an age in which climate change and corporate interference has damaged the biodiversity of our planet, and animal safeguards are waning. Species across the world are becoming increasingly vulnerable and even dying out. As Muslims, we should be making an active effort to ensure the vitality of the animal kingdom is maintained and treated with compassion, as said best by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him): “All the creatures are the children of God and the best among you is he who treats His creatures well.”iii

 

i https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/printer-friendly-summary-2016-03-18.html
ii http://www.reviewofreligions.org/13243/a-glimpse-into-the-life-of-the-holy-prophet-muhammadsa-9/
iii https://www.alislam.org/library/question/islam-how-animals-be-treated/

Holy Quran

Prophet Ibrahim – Ever Inclined to God

Prophet Ibrahim blog

Arfa Yassir, Swindon

History has seen many successful people, from leaders to conquerors of large territories to the ones making ground breaking discoveries and inventions to the ones who have reached out to masses through their intellectual abilities. If we carefully examine their lives we find one thing in common i.e. all of them were focused on their aim. All other aspects of their lives were secondary to their goal. As a person of faith I believe when the focus of a person is God and His Unity then such a person cannot be removed from the pages of history and is bound to impact hearts.

Whenever God’s Unity or Tauhid, as it is called in Arabic, is mentioned, Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) is bound to be mentioned.  Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham is accepted and held in high esteem in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  The firm belief of a single All-Powerful Creator was engraved on his heart which made him fearless and brave. Even the strongest opposition, tribulation or trial could not shake his resolve. This is the reason why Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) has set such a high standard of sacrifice for God’s cause in the well-known account of his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son for God. The focus of his life was Allah the Exalted!

Though Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) has been mentioned in other Scriptures, the Holy Qur’an being the final and glorious Word of Allah takes the lead by awarding this Prophet of God with a very meaningful attribute. The word ‘hanif’ (حنیف) has been used for Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) in the Holy Qur’an. I found six verses in total wherein Allah mentions this word as an attribute of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace).

Consider the following verses with English translation where the word hanif has been translated as one who is ‘ever inclined to God’:

وَ قَالُوۡا کُوۡنُوۡا ہُوۡدًا اَوۡ نَصٰرٰی تَہۡتَدُوۡا ؕ قُلۡ بَلۡ مِلَّۃَ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ

And they say, ‘Be ye Jews or Christians that you may be rightly guided.’ Say: ‘Nay, follow ye the religion of Abraham who was ever inclined to God; he was not of those who set up gods with God.’ (2:136)

مَا کَانَ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمُ یَہُوۡدِیًّا وَّ لَا نَصۡرَانِیًّا وَّ لٰکِنۡ کَانَ حَنِیۡفًا مُّسۡلِمًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God. (3:68)

قُلۡ صَدَقَ اللّٰہُ ۟ فَاتَّبِعُوۡا مِلَّۃَ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ

Say, ‘Allah has spoken the truth: follow, therefore, the religion of Abraham, who was ever inclined to God; and he was not of those who associate gods with God. (3:96)

As every word of the Holy Qur’an is significant and as His Holiness Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad, second Caliph of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) emphasized that we must ponder over words and their sequence also, that is why a specific word is used instead of another word. When I started exploring the word hanif I found out for myself that the life of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) was indeed a living example of this attribute referred to him. The way he was ready to be thrown into fire or leave his hometown and his father but not let go of his faith in the Oneness of God tells us why he actually was ever inclined to God.

The word hanif can also means upright, one with pure faith, the focused. A Quranic dictionary[i] gives the following meanings for the Arabic root word for hanif:

“One on the right path; one who adheres firmly to Islam; one who is of religion of Abraham; who believes in One God; one inclining to or having a right state or tendency; one who turns or inclines from error to guidance”

This word hanif is also included in the niyyah, a brief Quranic prayer which Muslims say before offering Salat (Holy Quran 6:80) and it is interesting to note that this verse is also a statement of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace).

So the word hanif refers to one who gets rid of other distractions and sticks steadfastly to one well-chosen direction. That is what Allah demands from us when He asks us to be one of the followers of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace). At this point we must question ourselves that when life presents us with fire, as it did Prophet Ibrahim (Holy Qur’an 21:69), wherein we have to throw our soul and  let go of our desires; do we have a faith strong enough to make us fall into it fearlessly? What is our focus in life? Is our focus this world? Or are we striving for Divine love? Are we ready to prove ourselves in tough situations that all we need is God’s love? This is only possible when the fire of Allah’s love being kindled within the heart is stronger than fires of worldly ambitions! Let’s fall into the fire of God’s love like Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) did and see how it turns into flowers!

 

 

[i] Dictionary of The Holy Qur’an By: Malik Ghulam Farid M.A. (2009) page 206

Features · Science

Climate Change and Responsibility

Climate Change.png

Bareya Khan, Thornton Heath

Climate change is an ever-growing threat with its effects more visible than ever in the current world. 2018 was ranked the fourth warmest year on record, and the past five years have been the five warmest years since scientists started keeping record in the late-1880s. We don’t even have to look at icebergs, sea levels and corals, because we can see the effects of climate change where we are right now. The seasons don’t stay in their lanes anymore, the air is getting thicker day by day, and the stars barely make an appearance in the city skies at night.

Climate change isn’t just a threat to ourselves, but is a threat to the other creations of God that we live with. Plants and animals suffer too, and whilst these have direct effects on us, the damage done to plants and the pain endured by animals is in itself simply unacceptable. In Islam, animals must be treated with respect and compassion. Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an [6:39] that “There is not an animal that crawls in the earth, nor a bird that flies on its two wings, but they are communities like you.” As illustrated by this, we are most certainly required to work towards their betterment. We must treat them as our fellow communities since it is solely because of human activity that they are suffering.

The 5th Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has also raised his concerns about climate change, specifically the effect climate change has on food and water security in the world. The damage being done by humans to Allah’s creations (including ourselves) is one which will soon become near irreversible if we do not do something quickly. Something meaning every step we can take to limit carbon emissions; recycling, reusing, and purchasing environmentally friendly products. And us meaning every single person in this world who has the means to cut down and turn to more sustainable alternatives. That includes you, the person reading this – you, as well as everyone else; we all have a moral responsibility to take care of the world that we live in, and tackle climate change together.

But the question that poses is, why? There are many people who are choosing to ignore climate change, who are neither doing anything to alleviate it or prepare for its effects. And this could be anyone. However, as a Muslim my religion demands otherwise.

Allah makes it very clear in the Holy Qur’an [33:73] that He has made us stewards on this earth to care and protect it. “Verily we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it and were afraid of it. But the man bore it.” So far, as we can see through the devastating effects of climate change, humans have not been very successful at adhering to this Quranic verse, and we have not honoured the “Trust” that Allah has bestowed upon us to the best of our ability.

Allah foretells in the Holy Qur’an [30.42], “Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of what men’s hands have wrought, that He may make them taste the fruit of some of their doings, so that they may turn back from evil.” Through this verse we can see that, unless we find a balance once again, and undo the “corruption” we have caused, we will have to bear the consequences. In this case, those consequences are the devastatingly dangerous effects of climate change. Allah has warned us and we can see the consequences, so now we must change, for the preservation of future generations.

The effects of climate change are getting worse every day, and the responsibility that we have, as people who live on this earth, will get tougher. We have been bestowed with a great duty and it is our job to carry it out the best we can. May Allah enable us to do so. Ameen.

References
https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/2018-was-the-fourth-hottest-year-on-record

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/how-islam-can-represent-model-environmental-stewardship

https://greenfitree.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/10-quran-verses-on-the-environment-and-do-able-action-plans/
https://www.alislam.org/library/press-release/muslim-leader-warns-of-devastating-consequences-of-nuclear-war/

https://www.alislam.org/quran/