Ahmadiyya · Features · Islam

‘Al Salam’: The Source of Peace

AlSalamblog.pngTooba Khokhar, Cambridge

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils…

I still remember encountering this poem for the first time, as many of us will have done, in an age its poet deems “apparelled in celestial light, the glory and freshness of a dream”, that is to say, childhood. Nature, the unchanging backdrop to the rituals of life, is where so many of our greatest loves and desires are often played out.

In the Persian tradition too, the lover is symbolised by a nightingale and the beloved a rose. But such an affection is tinged in sadness for the rose’s beauty is as quick to fade as it is to bloom. The nightingale whose sweet melody resounds joyfully in Spring is despondent in Winter. The question that arises then is this: is beauty that fades beauty at all? What comfort can we attain from an object that will pass and in a moment be no more?

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has an answer to this cosmic riddle. There is a lot of comfort to be attained, he counsels, for the attraction we feel for forms of beauty is really an attraction towards the Divine. Such love is “a reflection of that very love”[1].

Thus, any experience of beauty, momentary though it may be, is always a source of peace. Indeed, it is in this connection the Holy Qur’an states that

He it is Who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith to their faith — and to Allah belong the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is All-knowing, Wise —[2]

Many are the ways in which God causes our hearts to blossom and be at ease. Whether in the rose or daffodil, the burst of a cool, gentle breeze, or the multifarious other ways we experience Divine comfort.

This comfort and tranquillity comes from the Divine Attribute of Al Salam, the Bestower of Peace. All true peace stems from God, therefore the seeds for such peace must be planted deep within the human soul, in a relationship with its Maker.

In the Holy Qur’an we read that “Allah calls to the abode of peace” (10:26). God as the Source of Peace, “wishes security for His Creation”[3]. And in all the verses of His revealed book, He sets out a blueprint for achieving this peace in the domain of the home, society and the world at large.

It has been said of religion that it is the “opium of the masses”. Indeed, outwardly devotion not to mention corrupt institutions may well be likened to a drug that gives momentary pleasure and lasting decay. However, could true connection with the qualities of mercy, generosity and godliness give cause to anything but lasting peace?

Indeed, they are if anything the true enablers of peace. Until we reach that stage however, we can make sweet our time by seeking peace in the glimpse afforded by the rose and daffodil into the shoreless ocean of the beauty of the Divine.

[1] The Essence of Islam, Vol I, p. 137. URL: https://www.alislam.org/books/Essence-1.pdf

[2] The Holy Qur’an 48:5. URL: https://www.alislam.org/quran/48:5

[3] Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) in his Friday Sermon dated 11/12/2015. URL: https://www.alislam.org/archives/sermons/summary/FSD20151211-EN.pdf

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Features · Islam

Violence is Antithetical to Islam

Islam Is Peace Blog

Zujaja Khan, London

As Britain and the Commonwealth mark 100 years since the end of the First World War this month, we take time to reflect on the sacrifices made, and the mistakes that led our countries down a deadly path a century ago. But despite our yearly contemplation and promises not to forget, we live in increasingly disturbing times. Not unlike the century before us, we live in times of international distrust, abandoned disarmament talks, assassinations, aborted peace resolutions, and proxy wars.

It is difficult to discuss the social and political chaos in the world now without being inundated by hysteria regarding Islam. Edward Saïd, the Palestinian American academic, once wrote that almost ‘nothing about the study of Islam today is “free” and undetermined by urgent contemporary pressures.’1 He recognised the prevailing disconnect between what Islam is and what ‘prominent sectors of a particular society take it to be’ . Yes, at times it can be complex to defend our corner when so many sectors of society seek to discredit Islam; who use the actions of minorities as a barometer of that community’s overall humanity.

During his Friday Sermon on 11th December 2015, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad elucidated upon the climate of Islamic extremism, and the dire situation that the Muslim world finds itself in.2 He stated that the world is ‘teetering on the edge of a fire pit,’, and that it is the responsibility of Ahmadis to try to save the world from falling in fire. His Holiness explained that the best way to achieve this goal is to cultivate a special connection with Allah the Almighty, thereby advancing a mission of peace and harmony. His Holiness’s acute understanding of the global situation we find ourselves in has enabled him to provide crucial guidance in these trying times. His advocating of peace and harmony is demonstrated throughout his sermons, and especially through his addresses at our annual National Peace Symposium and his addresses around the globe.

Opponents of Islam tend to focus their criticisms on two central areas: the Holy Quran, and the life history of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Ignorance surrounds these two important parts of Islamic teachings, particularly the notion that Islam propagates violence and creates a deep distrust between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Holy Quran itself makes clear that ‘…in it there are verses that are decisive in meaning…and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations…’ (3:8) Critics tend to fixate on Quranic verses that discuss violence, war or death, and promote these out of context. Contrary to these misreadings, verses regarding death and war are not all commandments to engage in violence. As His Holiness has explained countless times, the fundamental tenet of Islam is peace, and those who wish to delineate from this message do so because of their own ignorance:

If a person does not follow a particular teaching properly whilst claiming to subscribe to it, then it is he who is in error, not the teaching. The meaning of the word ‘Islam’ itself is peace, love and security.3

In addition, claims of a violent Islam are absolutely rebuked when, in the Holy Quran, it is written: ‘…create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order. This is better for you, if you are believers’ (7:86). This guidance is indisputable; however affronts to the values of Islam are perpetrated and exacerbated across the world right now by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. As Ahmadi Muslims we must be more vigilant in our efforts to dispel and educate people about the true Islam.

Indeed, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not advocate violence, nor did he seek it. His life continues to be grossly misunderstood by groups of Muslims who use contorted histories to justify violence; and by non-Muslims to delegitimise our beliefs. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly forbade the urge to fight when he said: “Do not wish for battle with the enemy. Pray to Allah to grant you safety; (but) when you are obliged to face them in battle, show patience.”4

It is no surprise then that our Ahmadi community is always quick to publicly denounce terrorist acts and to help the communities in which we live. We must also understand our own history, found in the examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As His Holiness mentioned in his 2015 sermon, we should make our own efforts to engage with the teachings of Islam and use the tools provided for us in the Holy Quran and in our Islamic history, to remind us what true Islam is.

1. Edward Saïd, Covering Islam, London: Vintage (1997, p. 143).
2. https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2015-12-11.html
3. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Understanding-Islam.pdf p.12 National Peace Conference 2015, Baitul Futūh Mosque, London
4. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Understanding-Islam.pdf p.15
Islam

A Peaceful Home

Peaceful Home Blog.png

Maha Khan, London

With the world becoming devastatingly divided and fuelled by xenophobia, one becomes fearful of raising a family in such environments and wishes to instil peace in the world, little by little.

We wonder how and where to begin, searching for answers as to why the world is this way. Like many things in life we should begin by tracing the root of the matter, the source of hatred and absence of peace witnessed these days. We must look deeply into the psyche of the human race beginning with childhood. When ‘childhood’ is mentioned, many emotions spring to mind, however one factor shared amongst all children is the memories attached to the childhood home – and peace arguably starts at home.

Your first experience of peace, love, and patience starts from your parents who teach you by being the best possible examples. Muslims teach their children that the definition of peace requires having harmony between one’s desires and God’s commandments and exhibiting this harmony to others. For example, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) declared, ‘A Muslim is the one from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe.’ (Tirmidhi). Commenting on the Holy Qur’an (5:33), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace), stated, ‘He who abandons kindness abandons religion. The Holy Qur’an teaches that whoever kills a person without justifiable cause will be as if he has killed the whole world. In the same way, I say that if someone is not kind unto his brother, it is like he has been unkind to the whole world.’ i

Echoing this, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the 5th and current Khalifa of the Promised Messiah stated during his 2004 tour of Benin, ‘The taking of a single life is like the massacre of thousands of innocent lives.; ii These teachings instil within children an empathy and sincere desire for the welfare of others. The ideal society, according to the Holy Qur’an, is Dar as-Salam (6:128 10:26), literally meaning, ‘house or abode of peace. Establishing this peace on earth establishes peace in everyday life at all levels, including personal, social, state and international. We can achieve peace within our households by practising simple tasks that help with the maintenance of harmony.

Keeping peace between husband and wife:

Husband and wife as life partners have great responsibilities and obligations. Both must have concern, love and compassion for each other. The Holy Qur’ān has given an excellent example of husband and wife in the following verse:

‘…They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them…’ (2:188)

Garments are used for three main purposes which echo the relationship between husband and wife. 1. To cover and protect oneself from extreme climatic conditions, etc. 2. To look civilised, nice and elegant. 3. To cover weaknesses, faults and blemishes.

Supplication:

The Holy Qur’an teaches us to make every effort in creating a happy environment at home and teaches prayers for the same:

‘…Our Lord, grant us of our wives and children the delight of our eyes and make each of us a leader of the righteous.’ (25: 75)

Those who are sincere in their prayers, and show exemplary behaviour, Allah answers their prayers and helps them to have a happy atmosphere at home.

Advice for men and women:

Ḥazrat Sayyidah Nusrat Jahan Begum (Ḥazrat Amman Jan), wife of, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) gave the following advice to her daughter, Ḥazrat Sayyidah Nawab Mubarakah Begum, at the time of her wedding.

• Never do a thing keeping it secret from your husband. Never do anything that you feel the need to hide from your husband! Even if the husband may not be observing, but God does see, and the wife loses her respect when the matter is disclosed at the end.

• If a thing is done against his wishes, never try to hide it. Inform him clearly, as that is the way to retain respect. To hide it leads to disgrace and disrespect.

• Do not argue with him when he is angry! If he is angry with you or a child or a servant, and you know that he is at fault, even then do not respond to him. When he calms down, then gently let him know the truth and make him realise his error. The woman who argues with her husband when he is angry loses her respect. It will be a great disgrace if he uses harsh words to her in his anger.

• Consider his dear ones and their children as your own dear ones. Never think of harming anyone even if he is doing wrong to you. You should have good will in your heart for all, and do not take any action in revenge against anyone. Then you will always behold God doing good to you. iii

Of course the husband should also observe these esteemed instructions for promotion of peace and harmony at home.

Attaining peace with oneself by being true:

I end with a quote by His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad, fourth spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

“Only when man becomes true can he find peace with himself… Truth is the most important fundamental first step towards peace and this is the meaning of becoming like God… Again, I will emphasise that this is the only formula for creating universality in man. Without creating universality in man it is impossible to dream of peace and this universality can only be achieved through the image of God which is universal. Through Him, man can achieve such characteristics as are universally loved so that the human community, the human race, can become a single species if the human race submits to the will of God and becomes or attempts to become like God. Herein meet the two different meanings of peace, that is, peace in the ordinary sense, and peace in the sense of submission.” iv

i https://www.alislam.org/islam/islam-peaceful-religion.pdf (page 4)
ii https://www.alislam.org/islam/islam-peaceful-religion.pdf (page 3)
iii https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Islamic-Teachings-on-Ideal-Family-Life.pdf (page 37)
iv https://www.alislam.org/library/q-and-a/attainment-of-inner-peace/

Features · Islam

Finding Inner Peace

Finding Inner Peace Blog.png

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

Inner peace is not a destination. It is not as if we can find it one day and remain in the its bliss forevermore. No – reality likes to throw curveballs at us and keep us on our toes. It is important that we view inner peace as a state of mind that we can work towards and continue to work on. As we grow and acquire more experiences and world knowledge our definition of ‘inner peace’ will also change. In today’s hectic lifestyle it’s quite easy to forget to take care of oneself. Certainly, the self-care industry has made millions but is it possible to find inner peace without buying into large corporations? I certainly believe that Islam has the answer to this question.

Inner peace comes as a result of a personal relationship with oneself. This demands taking a step back and understanding who you are and what your priorities are. It is so easy to get lost in the world and forget what our ultimate goal is. As a Muslim, I believe that my purpose is to worship the Almighty. It is in His remembrance that we find peace as we are filled with a hope and a promise that here is indeed a Higher Power above us Who loves us at such an intensity that is unknown to human kind.

The Holy Qur’an states:
‘Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye! it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort;’ [13:29]
In just these words so much love is expressed as we see a personal relationship between each individual and Allah the Almighty.

Further, considering prayer as a form of meditation, there is undeniable scientific evidence of the benefits to one’s mental wellbeing which come as a result of prayer.

A study has stated:
‘Several reports on the application of prayers in psychotherapy illustrate the positive outcome in the individuals exhibiting pathological symptoms such as tension, anxiety, depression and anti-social tendencies.’ 1

Therefore, not only are the words of the aforementioned verse exceedingly comforting, they are also supported by scientific fact.

Along with building a strong relationship with yourself through building one with Allah, it is also essential to build a strong bond with your wider community. Through serving others we are able to come to terms with our own woes and worries. Through serving others and doing good works we spread a positive energy with those that surround us and indeed not only does this positive energy affect our exterior but also extends to the interior. Living a selfless life alienates anger and arrogance.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has stated:
The last and critical stage for great devout and truthful people is to avoid anger… Anger is generated when a person gives preference to his own self over the other. [Malfoozat vol.1 p.36]’
The importance of healthy societal relations is also emphasised in the Holy Qur’an:
‘A kind word and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury…’ [2:264]’

Such amiability in society inevitably is reflected within us and allows us to find comfort within ourselves, knowing that we are contributing members of society. Inner peace and outer peace are directly related. By creating a harmonious environment around us, we are creating one within.

This also extends to living a pious life in general. In remembering our Creator and serving others we are building inner and outer peace. These acts avoid the creation of disorder and mayhem in our own lives as well as the lives of those around us.

The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us:
“Verily, God looks not to your figures, nor to your bodies, but He looks into your hearts and to your works of piety.” Then pointing to his breast, the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Herein lies piety.’ This he repeated thrice.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Living a pious life, which as the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) reminds us is a matter of the heart, keeps us away from chasing material happiness. Material happiness is fleeting; we are trying to apply a tangibility to an intangible concept. Therefore, to find happiness or inner peace we must approach it with a concept similar in tangibility – that being piety.

Finding inner peace is imperative. Finding it is not an objective, rather a lifestyle. This lifestyle can be adopted with little acts that we perform every day and transform our lives. In trusting the Almighty our burdens are relieved. In serving others we create harmony. In living in piety we understand that inner peace is not material. In this process and a combination of these three interlinked practices, we can achieve inner peace.

 

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705686/

Politics

The Path to World Peace

Path to World Peace Blog

Manaal Rehman, Cheam

At times world peace feels like a distant dream, a fantasy, a vision that seems to fade away as days go by. It is like a dream that humanity desires but is getting increasingly harder to attain. More and more conflicts and disputes arise and less and less of them are being resolved.

There are currently 7.5 billion individuals living on Planet Earth in 195 sovereign countries. Consequently there are 7.5 billion sets of interest that 195 authorities are supposedly fighting for. In light of this, a very simplistic approach to world peace, would be to say ‘Let’s just all agree’, Right?

But even in a small group of, let’s say, five people, not everyone will agree on everything. These five people will have different priorities, opinions and necessities. And it is basic human nature as per evolution to fight for your own survival. Hence each person will argue in their own interest. It is hardly reasonable or even sensible to expect that 195 governments would agree on everything.

To top it off, we live in a constantly evolving world, which comes with a constantly evolving set of issues. To live in an entirely peaceful world, we would have to solve all of our current problems as well as anticipate and prevent future problems. Can we realistically expect all races, religions and cultures to live peacefully side by side? Can we expect the far-right and the far-left to ignore their differences and find a middle ground? Can we even get authorities to accept their mistakes, so that humankind can move on?

Answer….yes. Very difficult, nearly impossible, but attainable, under the following given conditions. All authorities discuss their issues with fair and sincere interests of the parties involved and then unify under one unbiased, faithful and honest leadership. The best living example of this is Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya.

Our Beloved Khalifa, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (May Allah be his Helper) states:

‘‘Development of peace is a major issue in the world of today. Fear and disorder are found all around us. Armament and ways of destruction are common. People are enemies of other people everywhere. Stronger powers are inflicting atrocities on those weaker than themselves. Terrorism is being carried out in the name of stopping terrorism. Media is also playing a major role in spreading fear and disruption. For the Muslims, there is only one way out of this situation; that they stop defaming the name of Islam through their actions. They should embrace the true teachings of Islam, and become united amongst themselves. ‘

His Holiness, in the book ‘World Crisis and Pathway to Peace’, has outlined a way to achieve world peace in three steps.

1) That regardless of religion, individuals should remain loyal to their country and nations.
2) World peace is not as distant as we are led to believe. It is entirely possible if leaders and governments practice absolute justice towards their own people and fellow nations, and completely disregard greed.
3) Show sympathy and compassion towards all human beings, be they your neighbours or other nations. Help one another without expecting any material gains in return.

Greed is an unfortunate part of human nature. It leads to us craving more than others. Consequently, when we are in a position of power, we take what is not ours, because we want it and we can have it. We then forget that we infringe the rights of others and begin to suppress them, we stop practising justice. Then we realise that we have power over them and consider ourselves superior, we stop practising equality. We abuse them and take away their possessions. Eventually, we become inhumane. This results in rebellion, dispute, unrest and ultimately war.

Hence, greed and the lack of justice are interlinked. Together, these are the greatest flaws present in humanity today, which have led to the current state of global unrest. Once we have tackled those, our distant vision of world peace can become an achievable reality, and all 7.5 billion people can live respectively happier lives

Features

The Holocaust—Strive for ‘Never Again’

Holocaust

Basira Ajmal, Bournemouth

It is of course always with feelings of deep sadness that one writes about the Holocaust— a catastrophe in which millions of people, especially Jews were mass murdered remorselessly by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. A genocide to exterminate Jews, an atrocious horror.

While we honour the victims of the Holocaust each year on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, what is also crucial is the need to ask ourselves, what did we learn from history?

What the Holocaust has revealed is the most averse reality of all times; humans have the capacity to execute such heinous and inconceivable cruelties against each other. It envisages that if it has happened in the past, it can happen again and my heart twinges when I write that unfortunately, this vicious crime is still taking place. Yes, you read that correct; I do think that genocide is continually going on around the world.

According to article II of the UN Genocide Convention, any killing or inflicting destructive circumstances or serious bodily or mental harm to anyone with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group is called Genocide.

Have we forgotten what transpired in Cambodia or the mass slaughters of Rwanda? What about the Bosnian genocide? If all of those were too long ago to be remembered, is the Darfur genocide , the atrocities in Syria and the persecutions in Rohingya also a matter of the past? No, I am afraid  these are contemporary issue. Most regretfully, the frequent occurrence of this barbarity has made us somehow immune to feel the pain and agony it inflicts. To make it happen ‘Never Again’, it needs to be addressed everyday rather than on only one particular day of remembrance.

Now generally speaking, to shut down anything like a factory, a machine or a car, we cut off the fuel, whether it is manual energy, electrical or chemical fuel. Similarly, to tackle this unending problem of genocide, we need to cut off what propels it. Genocide is often instigated and later fueled by pervasive hate speech. We are living in a time when the phrase ‘Free Speech’ has become a part of our active vocabulary and is always at the tip of our tongues as well as our pens. However, we need to comprehend both constructive and destructive aspects of the power of speech. Eloquent and positively motivational speech promotes peace and productivity. On the other hand, disparaging and disdainful speech spurs violence and agitation, as the author Newton Lee says, “There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech incites violence.”

In exercising our freedom of speech, we need to be wary that we do not suppress anyone else’s freedom, as we are all equal human beings brought into existence by One  Creator. In order to achieve their egocentric objectives, use of presumptuous and provocative words has always been common among the political and national leaders who hold the responsibility of bridging gaps and bringing peace to the society. This depreciatory rhetoric aggravates hatred and incites violence against specific groups of society putting them at a risk, which can in extreme cases lead to genocide.

It is time we bring about a change and actively discourage the use of hate speech and derogatory terms, as advised by our Creator in the Holy Qur’an, chapter 49, verse 12,

‘O ye who believe! let not one people deride another people, who may be better than they, nor let women deride other women, who may be better than they. And do not slander your own people, nor taunt each other with nicknames…’

This beautiful and universal teaching of the Qur’an is a measure to prevent hatred and disparity among different and diverse communities in a society. Within this context, the worldwide ambassador of peace, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad says in a Friday sermon[i], ‘Freedom of expression certainly does not mean that sentiments are trifled with, or are caused to be hurt. If this is the freedom that the West is proud of, and then this freedom does not lead to advancement, rather it leads to decline.’ At another instance[ii], the Khalifa of Islam says these thought provoking and eye-opening words, “Let it not be that in the name of freedom of speech the peace of the entire world be destroyed.”

Thus, we must inculcate these fruitful and valuable teachings into our lives and be mindful of our words and speech lest they incite any kind of hatred or violence against any individual or group. Only then, we could say that we are making an effort to eradicate violence and the unspeakable horror of genocide from our society and are truly striving for  ‘Never Again’.

 

 

[i] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/TheBlessedModelAndCaricatures.pdf

 

[ii] https://www.alislam.org/library/press-release/world-muslim-leader-condemns-anti-islam-film/#sthash.qc4USr9W.67XXQ9g2.dpuf

 

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

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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.

 

 

Islam · Uncategorized

What Does Peace Mean To Me?

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Zile Huma Ahmad, Southfields, London

As I sit here thinking about the upcoming International Day of Peace I ask myself: what does peace mean to me? Do we achieve peace by buying t-shirts, mugs and going to peace concerts? These actions no doubt have good and noble intentions but a real difference cannot be made without individual change and new attitudes.

Firstly, before one can begin to create peace in the world, they must be at peace with their own desires and ambitions. Inner peace can be defined as having a balance in one’s life and with the world around them. This includes having the correct balance between the material and spiritual aspects of life. When a person is sure that they pose no threat or danger to anyone they meet they can begin to create peace, even if it is only on a small scale.

However, in order for someone to create true, impactful and lasting peace from a religious perspective they require the help and guidance of the Creator. According to the Quranic concept of peace, no peace on earth can be conceived by human effort alone. So, in Islam, the journey to peace in the world begins with the attainment of peace with your Lord the Creator; for this we must understand His attributes. God is portrayed as the embodiment of perfect goodness in almost all religions. They all teach that God is: True, Compassionate, Just, Merciful, Loving and Forgiving. God has created human beings in accordance with His attributes and peace means a balance between God’s attributes and those of man albeit on a human level.

Truthfulness is the most important attribute in attaining peace with oneself. If you become true to yourself, only then can you be true to your children, your spouse, your relatives, your friends and the wider society. This single factor can make a huge difference on a wider scale as well. Nations becoming truthful and just towards each other is the only way to attain lasting peace.

I abide by the slogan of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Love for All Hatred for None and aspire to practice it. If all of us follow these inspiring words in our day to day lives then world peace can be achieved once and for all.