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)

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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

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/

Features

The Musleh Maud Prophecy Fulfilled

Prophecy of the Promised Reformer Fulfilled Blog

By Navida Sayed, Hounslow

After spending forty days in chilla (spiritual retreat in solitude) on 20 February 1886, the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) received a divine revelation of a grand prophecy informing him that an illustrious son would be born to him. This prophecy was fulfilled, on 12 January 1889, when Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad was born. This prophecy came to be known as the prophecy of ‘Musleh Maud’, meaning the ‘Promised Reformer’ extraordinarily pious, righteous son and the Promised Reformer.

Throughout his life Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad demonstrated great wisdom, courage, piety and remarkable leadership skills. His Khilafat testifies countless achievements and efforts he made to spread the true and peaceful message of Islam around the world.

The Promised Reformer or Musleh Maud Day commemorated on 20 February each year by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community marks a day when Ahmadi Muslims around the globe, do not commemorate a birthday but instead celebrate the fulfilment of the grand prophecy and achievements of Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him). In 1914 the ‘Promised Son’ was elected as the Second Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and his period of spiritual leadership lasted for more than 52 years as the second successor to the Promised Messiah (peace be on him). This day is also celebrated in order to inspire, motivate and empower members of the community by remembering the towering efforts of Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him). He strove hard to maintain the aim of guiding individuals to self-reform and propagate the message of Islam.

Expounding on the works of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) the second Khalifa provided the world with a magnificent source of true Islamic interpretation through his outstanding commentaries of the Holy Qur’an.

These commentaries have proved to be an invaluable source in this day and age when extremism is at its peak resulting in waves of suicide attacks wrongly in the name of Islam. The commentaries were written in light of the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) who recognised a dangerous trend that was entirely contrary to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an more than 100 years ago. The Qur’anic commentaries by the second Khalifa are a guiding light for the youth and Muslims of today saving them from the pitfall of possible radicalisation. Instead Ahmadi Muslims try to educate the world to show how a number of today’s Islamic scholars completely misunderstand the concept of Jihad and misrepresent it to

the general public, and that this type of Jihad is not of the Divine religious Law (Islamic Shari‘ah) instead it is a grievous sin and a violation of the clear instructions of God and His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

Furthermore the comprehensive Qur’anic commentaries of the Holy Qur’an by the second Khalifa and his spiritual guidance outline golden principles for the establishment of world peace. In turn regardless of theological differences, as Ahmadi Muslims we are guided to promote unity and cohesion by having respect for all religions, their founders and their scriptures. As a result understanding the true underlying, beautiful teachings of Islam enables building bridges through mutual respect and understanding between the followers of all faiths.

As a worldwide spiritual leader and guide he worked tirelessly to extol mutual understanding, peace, love and tolerance as the foundations of Islamic teachings not only in the wider society but also within the community. The second Khalifa dealt with all family, societal, political and global matters comprehensively in his Qur’anic commentaries in relation to human rights, women’s rights, matrimonial relationships, rights of children and parents, rights of neighbours and individuals in society.

The second Khalifa took this a step further in a practical way by organising the Community into auxiliary departments. Men, women and children were to have their own association – Majlis Ansarullah for the elder male members, Lajna Ima’illah for the women, Majlis Khuddam-ul Ahmadiyya for the male youth members and Majlis Atfal-ul Ahmadiyya and Nasirat-ul Ahmadiyya for younger boys and girls. These bodies were not set up to divide the community rather to motivate, empower and instil life skills in individuals. These auxiliary departments of the Community can now be witnessed in all continents of the world and probably constitute the largest voluntary organisation in the world. Muslim girls and women excel higher in education and leadership roles in the Community and the wider society working side by side along their male counterparts. Yet the women enjoy their own equal mosque space and freedom to participate in their own auxiliary organisation without any interference or interruption from the men. The world can witness the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community especially the youth, promoting peace, cleaning the streets, engaging in charitable work, feeding the homeless, donating blood, reaching out to areas stricken by natural disasters.

In his Friday Sermon of February 18 2011 Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V reminded us of our responsibilities in this regard. It is our task to try and be ‘Musleh’ in our own spheres and spread Islam with our knowledge, our word and our deed. We should pay attention towards reformation of the self, reformation of our children and reformation of society. If we spend our lives with this consideration, we will be honouring the dues of Musleh Maud Day, otherwise ours will be hollow speeches. May God enable us to do so.

Features · Holy Quran

Explaining the Inexplicable: Science, Faith and Miraculous Events

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Nabila Khalid, Bolton

I have come across atheists that fall into 2 categories –

– Those that dismiss miracles as fictitious fairy tales because they believe they go against the laws of nature.
– Those that are aware that the miracles referred to in religious scriptures can be proved through science and mathematics and can therefore not be classed as miracles at all.

I remember at the end of one of my lectures whilst studying Biomedical Sciences, the professor raving on about Richard Dawkins and how amazing his work is. How he proves that in a world of science – God is not only unnecessary but a delusion of the believers.

Am I the only one who is totally amazed by people who come to the conclusion that, because science can explain everything, it proves that there is no God? I wonder if my professor was aware that Dawkins himself stated “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist.”

Naturally one must look at the definition of miracles – there are so many variations and interpretations. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines a miracle as:

1. An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.
1.1 A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences.

Ahmadi Muslims do not believe in the 1st definition. As His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), the fouth Khalifa/Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community explains:

“Miracles are not seen in Islam as unnatural occurrences, but as natural phenomena that are concealed from human knowledge at that period of time. Otherwise, there would be many questions raised against the wisdom of God. If God created the laws of nature Himself, He should have made some provisions whereby without breaking them, He could bring about desired solutions to a problem.”

We can all agree that the human knowledge of the laws of nature is incomplete, if it was complete we would not be making new scientific discoveries all the time. It is due to this lack of knowledge that miracles such as those that occurred in the lifetime of Prophet Moses (peace be on him) as believed by not only Muslims but also Jews and Christians were ruled out by many as fictitious stories (some even go to the extreme that they deny Israelites ever lived in Egypt.) But both scientific and archaeological evidence is continuously emerging that give testament to the reality of the stories found in the scriptures.

“Then We sent upon them the storm and the locusts, and the lice, and the frogs, and the blood — clear Signs; but they behaved proudly and were a sinful people.” [Holy Qur’an 7:134]

This verse refers to the 10 plagues mentioned in the Bible (Exod. Chaps. 7-11) All of these can be explained scientifically. If we look at the sign of the blood which is referring to the water turning red when Moses (peace be on him) struck the river Nile with his staff, this can be explained by a phenomenon known as “red tide” in oceans which is when it suddenly appears red in colour due to a sudden red algae bloom. Red algae can be found in freshwater ecosystems and can be harmful to wildlife.

“Then We revealed to Moses, saying, ‘Strike the sea with thy rod.’ Thereupon it parted, and every part looked like a huge mountain. And We let others approach that place.
And We saved Moses and those who were with him. Then We drowned the others.” [Holy Qur’an 26: 64-67]

The splitting of the sea is another example of a miracle that has scientific explanations to it. Russian researchers have calculated that if there were strong winds of 67miles per hour overnight, in the time of Moses when the Red Sea would have been much shallower, it could have exposed the seabed. A Russian mathematician admits that there was still some miraculous intervention occurring adding “I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of physics.”
It is evident from both the Biblical account of the event as well as the Quranic account that when Moses and his followers reached the sea, it was time for the ebb-tide and the sea was receding, leaving a dry bed. Following the command of God, Moses and his people crossed it quickly. There is evidence that the part of the sea they crossed was only 2/3-mile-wide so the Israelites would have made it across during the low tide. When Pharaoh’s people reached they did not notice that it was almost time for high tide again. It appeared that Pharaoh’s people were heavily equipped with big chariots and heavy weapons, slowing them down so that they were still in the middle of the sea when high tide returned and drowned them all.

What is important to notice in these incidents is timing. Is it nothing short of a miracle that at the exact time when Pharaoh demanded a Divine sign from God, the river turned red? When the escaping Israelites were blocked by the sea and nearly over taken by Pharaoh and his men and facing death started to lose hope – God instructed Moses to strike the sea with his rod. Is it nothing short of a Miracle or Divine intervention that it was the exact time when the water started to recede?

“In this, verily, there is a Sign; but most of these would not believe. And surely thy Lord — He is the Mighty, the Merciful.” (Holy Qur’an 26:68-69)

 

References:

i. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/14/im-not-afraid-what-stephen-hawking-said-about-god-his-atheism-and-his-own-death/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.02894d66b306

ii. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle

iii. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/miracle

iv. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/chapter_1.html#pgfId-1006068

v. https://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=1646&region=E1&CR=E3%2CE2

vi. https://www.livescience.com/58638-science-of-the-10-plagues.html

vii. https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/759762/red-sea-moses-parted-bible-ancient-egypt

Exod. 14:21-28
Enc. Bib., col. 1437

Islam · Women

Evolution of Feminism in Relation to Islam

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Wajeeha Rana, Slough

Feminism has become a widely circulated term in today’s media; it is a word loaded with meaning, yet difficult to define due to the emergence of several different branches of its kind. However, central to this movement is its purpose to advocate “equality of the sexes and the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the female sex” (1). Feminism has seen its evolution from roughly the 19th century to the present day, from its first-wave to its third. The question I raise is- how many more “waves” will be needed before women can truly be reassured that they have achieved equality? This further leads me to question what “equality” truly means. It would be far too naïve to assume that equality means “sameness”, because where men and women have equally multifaceted talents, they are by no means the same in their nature or their physicality. As an Ahmadi Muslim woman, I believe that for me this is where Islam comes in, because its principles work to consolidate these differences in the most dignified manner.

The rights of women outlined more than 1,400 years ago in the Holy Qur’an seem to me far more conducive to the feminist struggle for equality, than a model that continues to evolve to unsatisfactory effect. In actuality, it is with the advent of Islam that the issue of women’s rights was first raised, at a time when women were likened to slaves and in no position to campaign for themselves. If being a feminist simply means to support other women, then there can be no greater service to womankind than what the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) carried out. He has said, “It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge” (2), which shows that education is a fundamental right regardless of one’s gender. Regarding the economic security of women, in the Holy Qur’an it says “…Men shall have a share of that which they have earned, and women a share of that which they have earned…” (4:33) (3), and so it is very clear that women are free to regulate their own wealth and earnings. In Britain, it was not until the 19th century that women could be awarded degrees, vote equally to men or inherit property, yet all these rights and many more were part of Islam’s core teachings hundreds of years before.

With the politicising of the feminist movement, the question of women’s rights has also brought the hijab and Muslim women’s dress into this sphere. Instead of choosing to embrace immodesty to feel liberated as is often seen on social media, I make a different choice. I embrace modesty because Islam removes the pressure on women to adhere to impossible standards of outward beauty and focuses on a woman’s intellect as her biggest asset in society. In the Holy Qur’an it says: “…whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter heaven, and shall not be wronged…” (4:125). I feel empowered knowing that my spirituality and morality being most important to me, is equally weighted to that of any man in the eyes of God.

Whether we tentatively support feminism or champion it enthusiastically, it is safe to assume that regardless of one’s gender, beliefs or other affiliations, we would all like to live in a world in which women, as integral members of our society, consider themselves to be respected. In one Friday Sermon, His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) emphasised that “Muslims are those who are taking their countries to real higher levels of developments” (4) and in acknowledging women’s rights as Islam has done, a valuable contribution is made to that development. I argue that the rights of women presented in the Holy Qur’an 1,400 years ago require no amendment or evolution. This model is not regressive but rather quite the opposite; it is so far ahead of its time that our society has not yet caught up, and for those societies who claim to be based on Islamic principles and still oppress women, they must be called to urgently re-evaluate themselves.

Sources (for further information)
(1) Oxford English Dictionary, http://www.oed.com
(2) ‘Chapter 2: Women’s Issues’, in Pathway to Paradise A Guidebook to Islam
(3) The Holy Qur’an, English translation by Maulawi Sher Ali (ra)
(4) Friday Sermon, Striving for Moral Excellence: The Islamic Teachings (13th January 2017)

Health and wellbeing · Islam

Keeping Physically Healthy

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Maleeha Mansur, Hayes

There is no doubt about the importance of physical health, not least to reduce the risk of developing various diseases. Keeping physically healthy is a means of enhancing one’s emotional well being, confidence, longevity and of course, fighting off illness. But, is there a role for religion in guiding us about physical health?

As described by Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan sahib, ‘a beautiful body is a blessing from Allah (God) and the Holy Prophet of Islam (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to show his gratitude to Allah for giving him a beautiful and pleasing body. Whenever the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw his face in a mirror, he used to pray, “O Lord! Make my nature as pleasing as my body.” It shows that in religious matters, the human body is not an inferior thing. Without the body, you cannot have a spiritual life. It is true that the body is like a container and the soul is what is placed in that container. The body is only like a husk and the soul is a kernel. If we carefully analyse, we can see that if you break any container then the contents will spill. The soul and the body are also associated in this way and any damage to the body will affect the soul. According to the commandment of Allah the Almighty, whilst it is important to take care of your soul, it is equally important to look after your body. According to Islam, if a person deliberately adopts a lifestyle which results in his death, then he is a murderer and guilty of his own murder.’i

Physical health constitutes two predominant parts, diet and exercise.

For one’s diet, most people have come across the concept of the healthy diet plate as a guide for the proportion of fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy and carbohydrates we should be consuming. However, recent guidance has shifted to the importance also of quantity. An intuitive means of measuring proportions based on one’s hands has recently been proposed by the British Nutrition Foundation. The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), has so beautifully addressed this with great clarity 1400 years ago. He said, “no man fills a vessel worse than his stomach. A few mouthfuls that would suffice to keep his back upright are enough for a man, but if he must eat more, then he should fill one-third with food, one-third with drink and leave one-third for easy breathing.”ii

As women, when it come to a healthy diet, we have a crucial role. Not only do we decide the type of food our families eat, but the food tendencies and habits that we instil in our children will be with them for life. Thus, we hold a heavy responsibility in shaping the health of our future generations.

As for exercise, most people have had run-ins with some sort of gym membership, but mostly to temporary effect. With the example of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Islam has presented a beautiful model of how to incorporate exercise into one’s life sustainably. Firstly, with the five daily prayers, Muslims go through various postures giving effective physical exercise to many muscle groups. Secondly, from the example of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), we know that he ‘used to work with his own hands and this was the practice of his companions as well.’iii This habit distances ones from laziness, making one alert and in the habit of hard work. Thirdly, we often hear that walking is the best exercise, in this regard, a companion of the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related that ‘I have never seen anyone walk faster than the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It seemed as if the earth was folding underneath him. We would become tired when walking with him, but there would be no signs of fatigue on him. He did not walk with his head held high, and he would keep his gaze low.’iv

Within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a whole department is committed to looking after the physical health and well being of members. The community holds regular charity challenge marathons enabling us to raise funds for local charitable causes whilst maintaining our physical health. Islam truly is a universal religion that, not only caters for religious needs but provides guidance on every aspect of the life and society.

i Steps to Exercise by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), page 12
ii Tirmidhī
iii Steps to Exercise by Hazrat Mirza Tahir A Steps to Exercise by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), page 12 hmad (rh), page 32
iv Shuma’ile Tirmadhi Babma ja’ fi Mashiyyate Rasullullahsa, Muhammadsa the Perfect Man by Hafiz Muzaffar Ahmad, page 17