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Divine Attributes: Al Aleem, The All-Knowing

Al Aleem.png

Basma Qazi Chaudhry, Kent

It is Ramadan, a holy month which takes us on a journey of spiritual enhancement and is filled with the remembrance of Allah. It is time to speak little, to eat little and to sleep little, as per a famous Persian proverb. It is also time to reflect on the many Attributes of our Creator.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) writes in his book, Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, “Man is supposed to have full awareness of his Creator and to understand His attributes to a level that his cognisance reaches a degree of certainty.” The key to this cognisance lies in God-consciousness and the desire to emulate His attributes, within the realm of the possible; in other words, belief and action. One such attribute is Al-Aleem, the All-Knowing, possessor of knowledge absolute, past, present and future. Allah Almighty has given us His written Word as a master key; the Holy Quran, revealed in the holy month of Ramadan, is knowledge incarnate such that “…if the oceans became ink for the words of my Lord, surely the ocean will be exhausted before the words of my Lord came to an end [18:110].”

As a scientist, the Quran spoke to Nobel laureate Professor Abdul Salam. He once wrote, “The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.”

To help us mere humans along the way to attaining true knowledge, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) tells us that “Allah has designed the human mind with two different talents. On the one hand, he has been given intellectual abilities…[and] on the other hand Allah has gifted man with spiritual powers and perceptions as well.” [i]

We are told that these talents are a dual gift; the intellectual abilities allow us to observe and analyse the elaborate infrastructure of our physical nature and declare that this profoundly organised universe should have a creator. It is, however, beyond the capacity of the intellectual abilities to go further and declare the existence of said creator. It is not within their scope. However, the spiritual faculty advances comprehension to the point where one knows that there is indeed a creator. The mere inference that there ought to be a higher force at work cannot be complete understanding. Both forces complement each other.

Nowhere is this pairing more fruitful than when we ponder upon the created universe and try to understand God through nature. The noble laureate Professor Abdus Salam once said, “We are trying to discover what the Lord thought; of course, we miserably fail most of the time, but sometimes there is great satisfaction in seeing a little bit of the truth.”

Before the advent of the Promised Messiah (as), Muslims generally believed that the truths of the Holy Quran had been exhaustively laid bare, by the early scholars. That there was nothing more to be said. Astonishing is it not for this is Allah’s very own speech. Its knowledge could never be confined by anything less than infinity. Science has demonstrated time and again that knowledge of our physical nature is boundless. The humble honey bee continues to fascinate, and the human genome is only just mapped. Even the tiniest blade of grass seems to hide within it an infinity of structure and functions. The words of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood, the Second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community sum it best:

How could they have ever conceived that the Word of God would or even could be limited in meaning? Was it to yield all its meaning in one or two generations and nothing in the succeeding generations? If external nature can yield new knowledge from day to day, if philosophy and science can continue to advance, if geology, archaeology, physiology, botany, zoology, astronomy, political science, political economy, sociology, psychology, ethics, and other natural studies can be added to daily, should not the Word of God yield more and more knowledge as we advance from one period of history to another?

Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad

Knowledge is par force, a time-dependant continuum, with history and changes over time. It matters where we were a 100 years ago, 500 years ago or where we will be 500 years from now. We crow about our supposedly superior human significance. Let’s gain a little perspective. Cosmologists estimate that the universe has been in existence for about 15 billion years. If we were to imagine all that time compressed in to one calendar year, then human beings only appeared at 10.30pm on the 31st of December, become fire domesticated at 11.46 p.m. and the whole of recorded history occupies only the last ten seconds of the said cosmic year. Not only that, but in cosmic terms, we are infinitesimal. According to astronomers, there are ten times more stars in the universe than grains of sands in all the world’s deserts and beaches. Yet currently, we flatter ourselves that we have discovered the laws that apply to all times and all places. Since we are only familiar with a tiny fraction of the universe, this seems like a huge leap of faith. Hence, there is no guarantee that our current knowledge is the correct one. Future generations may look upon our achievements and dismiss our science as crude just as we did the Ptolemaic theory in favour of Galileo’s.

The Holy Quran is the Word of God, His very speech; it is but fitting that we should and will derive newer and newer knowledge from it. If modern science seems contrary to the teaching of the Qur’an, the errors, whenever and wherever necessary, will be corrected, by new knowledge drawn from the Qur’an.

“Science [is] concerned with nature, the handiwork of God. The Quran [is] the Word of God…There can be no contradiction between the two.”

Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad

Any doubts raised by natural knowledge are due only to lack of reflection. In other words, we haven’t gotten there yet. But in order to advance in our knowledge and appreciation of the universe, we should be looking towards the Book of Al Aleem.

[i] The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), Haqiqatul Wahi, as cited in URL: https://www.alislam.org/allah/Al-Aleem-Bestower-of-True-Dreams.pdf

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Ramadan: Time for Spiritual Rejuvenation

Ramadan_Time for Spiritual Rejuvenation

For Muslim men and women the Islamic month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual rejuvenation, rekindling the spiritual spark in our hearts, to refresh our love for our Sustainer – Allah the Exalted.

It is time for spiritual purification.  While fasting our bodies take less food, but our souls aim to be nourished profusely to gain spiritual vigour and strength. The very objective of fasting during the month of Ramadan is to revitalize our inner self – through attaining and then endeavouring to maintain righteousness, getting closer to God through acts of self-restraint, and by means of many spiritual exercises.

The day long fasting, for continuous 30 days, helps us to learn the merits of remaining patient, steadfast and determined.  We try our utmost not to think or indeed do any evil, but to spend time to think well, to be benevolent to others, and to re-establish a strong connection with Allah.

Muslims read, recite and listen to the Holy Qur’an in the month of Ramadan as much as possible and more than they would at other times.  Special sermons and classes on the teachings of the Qur’an are held. Most Muslims try to finish at least one reading of the entire Qur’an in this month.

Ramadan is also a time to change one’s attitude towards others – to reaffirm to behave better, to live in kindness and love with others – be they our family members, neighbours, colleagues and indeed strangers.  It is also a time to settle disputes, to apologise and to seek forgiveness from others. The Qur’an is very clear that controlling one’s temper is a necessary virtue for a believer, and the month of Ramadan is the right time to practice anger- management as indeed during fasting hours it is a requirement to control one’s anger.

During the month of Ramadan, it is not only that the intake of the food — which is otherwise permissible and required for the body — is restricted, but more importantly it trains all of our physical senses to stay in control – may they be the eyes, ears or tongue: to control the eyes from wandering around inappropriately, the ears not to listen anything useless and improper, the tongue not to speak ill, not to lie, not to backbite, and not to get into any useless gossip or argument. Ramadan is a time to focus and look at the positive side of life, and eschew the negative. It is an excellent time to break bad habits.

It goes without saying that it is a good time to have a sense of community. Not only bread is broken with family members, friends and community members at the time of breaking fast, but more importantly taking care of those in need, the homeless and the destitute is an essential part of Ramadan. Charitable acts are heightened with the aim of attaining higher spiritual level.

In Ramadan, with the passage of time, the intensity of spiritual heat increases, so much so that some Muslims decide to spend the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan full time in mosque. While making supplications to God, worshiping Him regularly in the mosque, and reading the Holy Scripture, people spend their time in personal reflection, meditation, and repentance – thinking of past mistakes, how to overcome personal weaknesses, and how to do better in the coming days ahead. This practice of retreat is known as I’tikaaf – or staying in seclusion, completely cut off from the worldly and materialistic pursuits and fully focused on the spiritual.  During these last ten days, spiritual vigil is important, because it is said that there is one night of special importance – called Lailatul Qadr – or the Night of Decree that falls in the last ten days of Ramadan.  It is said that it was the night in the month of Ramadan when the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (May peace and blessings of God be on him) received the first revelations of the Holy Qur’an through angel Gabriel when he was meditating in seclusion in the cave of Hira, near the sacred town or Mecca 1400 years ago.

In essence Muslims all over the world try as much as they can to attain spiritual blessings during this month of fasting with the objective to maintain and sustain these blessings throughout the rest of the year. May God help us in doing so! Ameen.

 

 

 

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Building Communities: Reacquainting Britain with the ‘Human Density’ of Islam

Building communities

Zujaja Khan, London

In 1981, Palestinian-American scholar Edward Saïd published his book Covering Islam, in which he analysed media representations of Islam during the late twentieth century. In particular, he looked at the Iranian hostage crisis that took place from 1979 to 1981. Saïd wrote that,

It is only a slight overstatement to say that Muslims and Arabs are essentially covered, discussed, and apprehended [in the media] either as oil suppliers or as potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Muslim life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Islamic world. What we have instead is a limited series of crude, essentialised caricatures of the Islamic world […][1]

Saïd’s phrase ‘human density’ is a useful term, as it draws attention to an ongoing crisis between Muslim and non-Muslim communities across the world. I would concur with Saïd’s assessment that limited or carefully curated knowledge of Islam has a direct impact on the inability to humanise Muslims. The fabric of our lives, the essence of who we are, is lost with every misinterpretation of Islam.

Saïd largely deals with the news coverage of political events of the late twentieth century, and how this reportage operates to justify military aggression. Though his study is rooted in a specific cultural and political context, I would argue that his analyses are exceedingly applicable to the everyday lived experiences of Muslims, proving mainstream media to be a perpetrator of serious microaggressions. I do not believe it is an overstatement to say that misinterpretation of the Holy Quran is one of the most significant obstacles facing Muslims across the world, exacerbating stereotypes and preventing communities from existing in harmony. A discussion about Islam can hardly go on for five minutes without opponents citing verses relating to death, murder or violence. Not to mention that Islam has consistently been characterised in British mainstream media as authoritarian and antithetical to human rights, more so since the terror attacks of September 2001.

Recently a group of 300 French intellectuals and politicians signed a petition to have verses removed from the Holy Quran that they perceived to refer to violence, to negate any future invocations by terrorists.[2] An ongoing epistemological struggle is thus maintained between those who believe Islam’s essence is encapsulated by its so-called ‘violent’ verses, and those who interpret the Holy Quran within the context of its writing. As Muslims, we are faced with the task of mending these stereotypes and misconceptions.

For those of our Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters involved in frontline press and media events, addressing concerns about the Holy Quran is a large part of the job. But the prevalence of questions about Quranic interpretation proves that it sits at the root of many communities’ opinions regarding Islam. We know that our Ahmadi brothers and sisters work determinedly to improve our relations with non-Muslim communities in lively and innovative ways. For example, we have our community’s ‘Voice of Islam’ radio station that covers a diverse range of topics, from history to technology to literature.

As a sacred text, a guidebook for our lives, a source of ultimate wisdom and closeness to Allah the Almighty, the importance of the Holy Quran to Islam cannot be overstated. However, the Holy Quran’s teachings cannot always be understood without putting in the time and effort to understand its complexity- and this goes for both Muslims and non-Muslims. As Ahmadis, we are blessed with the guidance provided in the Friday sermons of His Holiness, which aid our understanding and interpretations of the Holy Quran. Therefore, it is vital that we regularly study the Holy Quran and listen to sermons and addresses of His Holiness, so that each of us can try and be an advocate for the Holy Quran’s wisdom.

In his Friday sermon of 27 September 2013, His Holiness gave us all an important message to reflect on whether we have tried to emulate goodness, and how far each of us practices the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. We should consider whether our models of conduct with regard to the Holy Qur’an would be enough to incline any opponent towards Islam after seeing us.

Ultimately, I believe the biggest task facing British Muslims is (re)acquainting Britain with the humanity that sits at the core of Islam. Saïd is not alone when he stated that the Islamic world has become “the subject of the most profound cultural and economic Western saturation in history” (27). If there is a spotlight on our community worldwide, it is our responsibility as Ahmadi Muslims to propagate Islam in an informed and positive manner. InshAllah with guidance from the wisdom of the Holy Qur’an, from the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings be on him) Ahadith, from the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), and our Khilafat, we can achieve this. Ameen.

[1] Edward Saïd, Covering Islam, London: Vintage (1997, p. 27).

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/france-delete-verses-quran/559550/

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Do We Also Remember?

Mubarika poem

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The Story of Mary, a Pure and Noble Example

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Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

Mary, mother of Jesus, can often be seen portrayed in paintings as a serene figure with her head always covered and has always been a revered figure for Christians, to such an extent that in some denominations her figure can be found in churches and even prayers are said to her. Children in the West are taught the Nativity story in primary school, how Joseph and the heavily pregnant Mary were turned away from inn after inn until they found shelter in a stable where Jesus was born; among young primary school girls the role of Mary in the Nativity is a coveted one.

Along with Christians it is Muslims who also hold Mary in high regard and we can read about her in several places in The Holy Qur’an, about her own birth, her pious youth and the birth of Jesus and in fact chapter 19 of the Holy Qur’an, Surah Maryam, is named after her.

Before her birth Mary’s mother had promised to dedicate her to God. In chapter 3, verse 36 of the Holy Qur’an, the mother of Mary makes a vow to God,

“‘My lord, I have vowed to Thee what is in my womb to be dedicated to Thy service. So do accept it of me…”

The fact the new child was a girl was at first perplexing until the realisation came that God intended something special of her. She grew up a model of piety and complete trust in God which was to prove a great support to her in subsequent events.

In 2014 the first mosque built by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ireland was opened in Galway and it was named Maryam Mosque (Masjid Maryam) after Mary, because of the fact she is a figure revered by Catholics, who are the majority in Ireland, and Muslims alike. At the reception held for the opening Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V stated:

Maryam, or Mary as known to you, is as greatly revered by Muslims as she is by Christians. In fact, in the Holy Qur’an, Allah has mentioned Mary at many instances and highlighted her esteemed status. Mary was the name of that pure and pious woman who is honoured by Islam so much that the Qur’an has said that all true believers are like Mary. This is because Mary established a very special relationship with God and she upheld her virtue and chastity at all times. She developed a special bond of love with God, whereby Allah conversed directly with Mary and He Himself attested to her truth. Mary believed in the Books of God, she was righteous and attained a special rank in terms of her obedience to God.“

The Holy Qur’an tells us of the moment when Mary found that God had chosen her:

“And remember when the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of all peoples.”
Chapter 3, verse 43

The true story of the birth of Jesus is even more extraordinary than that portrayed in the Nativity because Mary actually found herself near to giving birth seemingly completely alone. There was no inn and no stable in which to take shelter; instead Mary found herself in pain lying outside under a tree. Imagine the situation and how terrifying it would be.

But Mary was not alone as God was with her and she was told;

“Grieve not. Thy Lord has placed a rivulet below thee; And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree; it will cause fresh ripe dates to fall upon thee.“
Holy Qur’an chapter 19, verses 25-26

The tree provided sustenance in the form of fresh dates, a nearby stream provided fresh water to drink and wash and God gave her the strength to endure the birth. This complete trust in God and strength of character she displayed throughout her life makes Mary an extraordinary and inspiring role model for all women whatever their faith. This unique position of being held in such high regard by people of different faiths makes her a uniting force.

As Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V further said in Galway:

“She was most certainly an example for all true believers. Her elevated status is reflected by the fact that the Qur’an says that true Muslims should develop the qualities of Mary and if they do so then they will be those who never cause harm or suffering to anyone. Every Ahmadi Muslim therefore seeks to instil within themselves the purity, nobility and piety of Mary herself.”

What an extraordinary woman Mary was that she has become a role model for people down the ages and remains so to this day.

 

Hijab · Uncategorized · Women

School and Well-being

wellbeing

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot

At my school in West London there was a uniform policy of skirts, blouses and blazers. Trousers were not allowed at all until after I left when the great number of girls from the Indian sub-continent led to a change so trousers and in fact a traditional shalwar kameez in standard navy blue joined the uniform list. Until sixth form, when I was able to wear loose trousers and a loose shirt I had to follow the uniform policy. This meant instead of bare legs, socks or sheer tights I wore thick, ribbed opaque tights with my skirt. Islam requires obedience to authority and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always advocated following rules so I felt this was a compromise which kept my dress modest while conforming to the uniform policy.

By the time my own children started school things had changed; skirts were and are still part of the uniform but have been joined by trousers giving the girls freedom of movement while keeping their legs covered. Schools are pretty tolerant about the requirements of different faiths and have allowed my children to sit out of Christmas Carols and to say their Prayers in an empty classroom during the short winter days.

While headscarves, or hijabs, were visible in some schools during my schooldays now they have become much more common. Muslim girls in secondary schools are routinely able to cover their heads but younger primary aged girls are also sometimes doing so. The subject of primary aged girls wearing headscarves arose recently with reports of some Muslims women approaching Ofsted with the wish to ban the headscarf in primary schools. This was followed by a report that Ofsted inspectors were to question young girls who do wear a headscarf. My reaction on hearing this was why are they trying to make trouble where there is none and is this really going to help a child’s well-being?

There are some primary schoolgirls who wear a hijab; in Islam the requirement to cover the head is once a girl reaches an age of full maturity which can start around the age of 12 or 13 so before that time she doesn’t need to do so and a parent shouldn’t force her to do so either. However there are cases where a girl may wish to cover her head; she may have seen women in her family wear a hijab when going out and wish to do the same. It would not occur to her that she is covering her head from men as the only reason would be innocently wanting to be like the women of her family. In that case is it really necessary to legislate against her action? Very young girls often wear bikinis or make-up which makes them look like their mum and at school will talk about how their clothing can attract the boys. Should legislation be extended to cover this too?

The idea of Ofsted questioning young Muslim girls about covering their heads is a dangerous one and brings up reminders of when children were questioned under the Prevent strategy to uncover evidence of extremism. A child drawing a picture of a man cutting a cucumber which he mispronounced as sounding like “cooker bomb”, another who drew his terraced house spelling it as “terrorist house” were both cases where children and their families were treated as suspects of sorts due to innocent mistakes. A policy of questioning young girls could go the same way.

Leaving aside mistakes being made it would not be healthy for a child to be singled out from their school friends to justify why she covered her head; there are enough reports of stress and mental health issues among young schoolchildren without adding to them when we should be helping children lessen any stress. Even in cases where older girls need to be asked about their hijab it should be ensured this is done sensitively and without making the girls feel they were being singled out for doing something wrong. It is difficult enough for Muslim children these days hearing about terrorist atrocities in the news as well as listening to anti-Muslim sentiment, sometimes to their faces; they can do without the added stress of being made to feel something they are doing or even their very faith is hated or wrong.

Growing up is a difficult time for children when even small problems can feel insurmountable; as adults our treatment of children needs to be in a sensitive manner so as not to add to any anxiety that may already be building up. Common sense needs to be used; if a young girl wishes to cover her head let her; if there are any concerns about a child which need further investigation it should be done in a sensitive manner through proper channels and not merely because she covers her head in school. Rather than causing problems where there are none our goal needs to be putting the well-being of our children first and help them grow up to be relaxed, confident young people who will make positive contributions to society.

Islam · Uncategorized

Tolerance in Islam: Building Bridges

Screenshot (757)

Mishal Aziz, Raynes Park, London

Today, 16th November, marks International Tolerance Day. Tolerance means the ability to endure subjection to something without a negative reaction. In today’s world where communities are so diverse and multi-cultural, we need tolerance more than ever in order to maintain peace in society.

Many non-Muslims object that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), God forbid, brought a religion which encouraged killing and harshness and there is no tolerance and freedom in Islam. This is totally wrong. In contrast, Islam teaches Muslims to maintain peace in society and treat everyone fairly whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

In one of the hadith (traditions) the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:

“O People, your Lord is One, you are the progeny of the same father (who was created from dust). Hence it is not permissible for you to make any discrimination between high and low. Neither an Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab. A white person is not superior to a black person one, nor a black is superior to a white. The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous”
Masnud Hadith no. 19774- Culture understanding and racial harmony (alislam.org)

Islam is seen as a religion which is spread by the sword as there were a few battles during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). But the Muslims suffered for thirteen long years patiently until defensive wars were allowed by God.

“Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors.”
(Chapter 2, verse 190)

This verse in the Holy Quran tells the Muslims to defend themselves. If this had not been the case all Muslims would have been killed or tortured to death.

Wars in the history of Islam affect many people’s point of view regarding Islam. Words of Allah the Almighty in the Qur’an regarding war are completely misunderstood. . What people do not realise is that there is a context behind it as well. Muslims were only allowed to carry out defensive wars; nowhere does it say in the Qur’an to start a war. Wherever war is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an it only tells Muslims to defend themselves which is realistic because each one of us wants a happy and healthy life. So, cherry-picking is not the way towards finding the real message and teaching of Islam.

Muslims are taught to be tolerant towards others and treat everyone equally. In another hadith, Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:

“You are brothers and sisters. You are all equal. No matter to which nation or tribe you belong and no matter what your status is, you are equal. Just as the fingers of both hands are alike, nobody can claim to have any distinctive right or greatness over another. The command which I give you today is not just for today but it is forever. Always remember to and keep acting upon it until you return to your true Master.” (alislam.org)

If Islam was an intolerant religion then why would Muslim people condemn extremist and terrorist attacks?

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is making an extra effort to build bridges with others. During one of his interviews, his Holiness Hazarat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (fifth Khalifa of the Promised Messiah) said:

“All people, regardless of faith or belief, should work together for the betterment of humanity. The Holy Quran teaches that there should be no compulsion in religion and so we Ahmadi Muslims respect all religions, all prophets and all people.” (khalifaofIslam.org)

Ahmadi ladies and girls plan monthly visits to other religious and cultural places and organise multi-cultural events. This allows us to get to know about other faiths and cultures and enable us to make connections with each other. So, together we can all take society forward and build bridges.

 

Reference: –

https://www.alislam.org/library/contemporary-issues/cultural-understanding-and-racial-harmony/

https://www.alislam.org/quran/view/?page=78&region=EN

https://www.khalifaofislam.com/press-releases/help-genuine-refugees-but-remain-vigilant-to-threat-of-extremism-head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community/

Islam · Uncategorized

Tolerance in Islam: An Essence of Humanity

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Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park, London

In the modern world, the word Islam unfortunately, and most wrongly, carries the connotation of intolerance and violence. The truth could not be further from this unjust and ill-informed accusation. The word Islam is quite literally the Arabic word for peace and also for submission. From just this it is immediately apparent that there can be nothing else that Islam values more than a peaceful way of life, along with a life where one is faithful towards the Supreme Being, God.

The Holy Qur’an, the sacred text of the Muslims, reminds Muslims that there is ‘no compulsion in religion’ (2:257).[1] As such, there is absolutely no justification for any sort of oppression in Islam where one is being forced to live in a manner that goes against their will. Islam is a religion that believes, and upholds the concept of free will. Therefore, the essence of Islam is to teach its followers, and to inform followers of other creeds and beliefs, of the truth, the right, and the wrong. After this, the decision to take the right course of action is up to the individual. This is the crux of Islamic teaching. Intolerance has no place in Islam as it continues to breach the foundations upon which Islam stands.

Lamentably, there have been a number of extremist groups committing heinous crimes across the globe in the name of Islam. These acts are in direct contradiction to the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam. One of the greatest sources of teaching for Muslims is through the sunnah: the actions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) who taught religious tolerance to Muslims. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) was a kind, honourable and forgiving man. The ordeals which he and his followers faced by the Meccans were nothing less than degrading and humiliating torture, yet he never wished any harm upon them; rather, he wished for a divine change of their hearts.

In his Friday Sermon, delivered on March 10th, 2006, His Holiness the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) related the incident when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted the visiting Christians from Najran to offer their worship inside the mosque. At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as it is today, it was one of the responsibility of the Muslims to protect the churches and inns of the Christians as well as to safeguard their worship.[2] It was also prohibited in any circumstance, as it is today, to ever attack a place of worship of any religion during a war or in time of peace.

One cannot deny, that it is not only extremist groups which are using the guise of Islam to justify their inhumane crimes. It is also corrupt politicians and governments. The government of many ‘Islamic’ countries are indeed using the excuse of their interpretation of Sharia to oppress its people in order to gain power and control. Both extremist groups and corrupt governments have misappropriated the terms Islam, Sharia, and the like. In doing so they have created a barrier between the truly beautiful teachings of Islam and the rest of the world.

This barrier is causing a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes as well as generally rising political tensions across the globe. These cannot lead to anything prosperous nor fruitful. It is essential that Islam be seen as a religion which welcomes all with open arms, tolerates differences and allows diversity in God’s creations. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ reigns true in Islamic teachings of all forms, whether they be the words of the Holy Qur’an, the words of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or his actions, Muslims are universally taught that love, tolerance and kindness are the essence of humanity and they must be adhered to at all times.

 

[1] https://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showVerse.php?ch=2&vn=257

[2] https://www.alislam.org/archives/2006/summary/FSS20060310-EN.html

Islam · Uncategorized

Be Not Divided: Interfaith Relations

interfaith week

Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot, UK

In a recent example of interfaith dialogue, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community met with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury on 10th October 2017 where he spoke about the need for tolerance in society and for mutual respect to be displayed by all people and communities.

Just as these two great faith leaders met so the rest of the population is given a renewed opportunity to meet with and get to know people of other faiths during a dedicated Interfaith Week held every year.

Islam lays great emphasis on building bridges with other communities as Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad stated in an address in Canada on 22nd October 2016:

“It is absolutely true that we, Ahmadi Muslims, are peace-loving and seek to build bridges of love and hope between different religions and different communities.  However, this is not because we have deviated from Islam or ‘modernised’ it in any shape or form. Rather, it is because we follow Islam’s authentic teachings.”

It appears to be such a simple action which can lead to tolerance and peace throughout society and Interfaith Week is one positive step in that direction.

The different regions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association UK, also known as Lajna, have taken the opportunity this week to arrange visits to places of worship of other faiths and are each holding an Interfaith Seminar to connect with women in their area. This has resulted in visits by Ahmadi women to Hindu Mandirs, Sikh Gurdwaras and Jewish Synagogues across the country aimed at learning about other faiths and making friends. It comes as a pleasant surprise to discover women from the Hindu community not only in big cities but in the green and less populated areas of Surrey and Hampshire!

It is not only during Interfaith Week, however, that Lajna branches hold interfaith events; throughout the year members can be found arranging visits to places of worship and holding seminars with women of all faiths and, indeed, none. The theme of these events may be different, discussing various world problems and women’s issues but there is one factor which always emerges; the women from all the various faiths find they have so much common ground and the differences between people are not as great as they sometimes appear.

“As God has made you one brotherhood, so be not divided.”

These words were spoken in the year 632AD by the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) during his Farewell Sermon. As we find ourselves passing through times of difference and division leading to great turmoil in the world these words are ones we should always bear in mind in our dealings with others.

 

 

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Come Share the Evening Tea

salimatea

Salima Alouache Bhunnoo, London

I send you my Salam, just so you can face your fears.

On the carpet of our mosques, come with us, discuss and exchange, witness a little humanity.

Come and see the love and faith,

We are called brothers and sisters our voices blend in prayer,

In moments of grace and light.

Aren’t these millennium-old acts of worship that we repeat in unison the height of most eloquent devotion?

Cross the threshold of our homes and share the evening tea.

Shatter the very foundation of myths and together we can write history.