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Globalisation, A vice or a virtue?

Globalisation, as a term, has always remained an ambiguous concept. Academics and Philosophers often confused globalisation with internationalisation, westernisation and liberalisation. However, the modern definition of the term seems to be a blend of the above notions.

By Muhammad Musawwar Ahmed
Image by: Geralt

Few contemporary definitions of globalisation explain this in terms of diversity and intensity of the social connections. In general economic theory, “globalisation is defined as increasing trade interdependency and investment integration” (Hirst & Thompson, 2019). Globalisation is expected to provide growth, raise standards of living of every citizen of the society. This is not a novel concept. Trans-world communications and trade existed for centuries throughout the history of mankind. Researchers argue that the ideological basis of globalisation is due to the promotion of capitalist views and lassiez faire (economic system in which market demand, supply and price are free to float without any government regulations). In fact, organisations like IMF, World Bank and WTO actively propagated the capitalist policies (Igwe, 2019). The only differentiating feature in the modern concept of globalisation from the primitive one is the “quantity, frequency, scope and intensity of trans-planteory links” (Scholte, 2008).

It is interesting to note that extensive connectivity beyond national boundaries not only affects the extent of the trade but also the society as a whole which involves culture, new technology, religious beliefs and politics (Pieterse, 2019). In reality, globalisation gave rise to the economic interdependence after 1970s. The global growth indicators in this era revealed that the world GDP was in the range of 2%-4% up till the financial crisis of 2009 (Petri & Banga, 2020). However, strong arguments exist challenging the effectiveness of interdependence equally for the participating nations. The current model of globalisation focuses on the free capital movement and liberating the trade regulations in the sectors and industries in which developed nations like the US have a competitive advantage. Yet, these countries discourage local protectionist measures by the developing nations (Hirst & Thompson, 2019). This model is therefore believed to be inclined more towards “westernisation” rather than “globalisation” (Igwe, 2019). It has created injustice and increased the inequality gap between developed and developing countries. The term interdependence was used in order to achieve the benefit of competitive advantage (in terms of efficiency, cost and quality) each nation has in a particular skill, product, trade or technology. However, it is often used in exploiting the developing markets in the current capitalist climate. (Wallerstein, 1980).

Apart from the economic complexities explained above, globalisation has also created a challenge of international governance. These challenges have been addressed by the world through the formation of international organisation and forums such as WTO and UN, having an internationally recognised constitution. Though these forums can be effective in bringing the world closer but as a matter of fact, these forums have failed in favour of the political and economic interests of the developed nations. Whether it is to do with providing agricultural subsidies of $47 billion to the richer nations producing cotton, to facilitate developing countries with differential arrangements or the issue of climate change, international platforms have collapsed miserably (Walker, 2011). This is due to the lack of the commitment from the world leadership to lead the world in the right direction with justice and fairness.

This injustice by the world leaders and the regulatory organisations has therefore created mistrust in various nations and cultures such as Muslim world. Research related to Islam and globalisation highlights this injustice by differentiating westernisation from globalisation (Miasami, 2003). The Islamic world (Ummah) is conscious about their political and cultural identity and considers the current globalisation model as a threat to this (Nurullah, 2008). The cultural differences were in fact never acknowledged by the current globalisation model.

The world is currently facing probably one of the most severe pandemics in the history which has brought the world nations down to their feet. The situation has reminded the world that the adopted globalisation idea, despite having benefits, requires serious scrutiny as the pandemic exposes the weaknesses and fragility of the international supply chain and inability of world leadership (Farrell & Newman, 2020). The world certainly expects, though not been expressed openly, some kind of holy and divine guidance in the current scenario (Culliford, 2018; Flurry, 2017). It is interesting to note that most of the religious scriptures have prophesied about the arrival of some sort of divinely guided one to be sent by God in the latter days. The Bible and other Jewish scriptures have clearly mentioned the second coming of “Jesus (AS)” and “Elijah (AS)” prophets who will lead them to the ultimate human destiny. The arrival of disasters, epidemics and wars has been foretold in these scriptures as a sign of latter days as well.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:5–6)

Similarly, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) has also mentioned the coming of a “Mahdi” in the latter days.

‘Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in whose hands my soul is, the son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the cross and kill the pig and abolish the jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts.’

(Bukhari Volume 3, Book 34, Number 425)

In the current world situation, the only sect in the Muslim community who claims that the foretold “Prophet Messiah and Mahdi” has arrived is the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. This prophet hood has been extended through the institution of Khilafat (Caliphate) which is believed to be the chosen and guided by Allah Himself as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an: 

“Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear: They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then whoso is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious.”

(Al-Nur, 24:56)   

The above verse clearly proves that God appoints the caliph Himself and hence, he will be guided by God and will be duty bound to show us humans the right path. Bounded by this duty, the Khalifa of the time, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmed (May God be his helper) has warned the world leaders about the destruction the world has been brought to.

“It is my fear that in view of the direction in which things are moving today, the political and economic dynamics of the countries of the world may lead to a world war. It is not only the poorer countries of the world, but also the richer nations that are being affected by this. Therefore, it is the duty of the superpowers to sit down and find a solution to save humanity from the brink of disaster.” (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmed, Khalifatul-Masih V (aba), World Crisis and the Pathway to peace)

Therefore, it is for us to understand now that despite clear warnings, what is the course of action we are taking as the human race? Are we on the track to our ultimate destiny? Is the road of globalisation filled with further discomfort? Globalisation is an absolute reality and is a virtue for mankind. However, it is important to understand that without the divine guidance, it is evident that the current globalisation model will lead the world to a deeper trap of destruction. Unfortunately, what seems to be the ultimate solution to the global world problems has been left abandoned by the world today.

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10 Facts About I’tikaaf

The holy month of Ramadan brings many blessings and opportunities for Muslims to create a stronger bond and relationship with their Creator. One of these opportunities is I’tikaaf, which is performed in the last 10 days of Ramadan.

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Ramadan is a fundamental opportunity in which an entire month has been specifically allocated to the believers so that they may attain nearness to Allah the Almighty. Hence, one may ask, what are the means to which Allah’s pleasure can be attained? In this regard the Holy Qur’an states:

‘And as for those who strive in Our path — We will surely guide them in Our ways.’

[Al-‘Ankabut 29:70]

Now we have entered the final 10 days of Ramadan. Therefore, one opportunity given to us by Allah the Almighty to strive towards His path during Ramadan, is through I’tikaaf. So the question now is, what is I’tikaaf? Well, here are 10 quick facts about Ramadan and this blessed mode of worship which is made available to us in this blessed month:

1. Out of the many ways in which one may spiritually benefit from Ramadan is to present oneself for I’tikaaf.

‘The gates of heaven are open for the month of Ramadan and the gates of the hellfire are closed and the devils are shackled.’

[Sahih al-Bukhari 1899]

Such measures make it even more possible for one to supplicate before the Almighty.

2. I’tikaaf is offered in the last Ashra (ten days) of Ramadan, conventionally within a Mosque. One should not leave the Mosque unless faced with a unique circumstance as one’s priority and attention should wholly be given to Allah over all matters.

It is narrated regarding the Holy Prophet (sa):

‘The Messenger of Allah (sa) used to seclude himself (in the mosque) during the last ten nights of Ramadan. He would say, “Search for Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) in the last ten nights of Ramadan.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 2020]

3. These ten days should completely be observed in worshipping Allah the Almighty through offering the five daily prayers & voluntary prayers, reading the Holy Qur’an and through the remembrance of Allah.

4. In essence one should endeavour to sever all ties with matters relating to worldly gains and should be at one with Allah. There is a Hadith in this regard which states:

‘It is Sunnah for the one performing I’tikaaf not to visit the sick, attend a funeral, or touch his wife (with sexual desire), nor have sexual intercourse with her. He should also not go out (of the mosque) except for an extreme necessity, and no Itekaaf is accepted without fasting, or without being in a mosque.’

[Abu Dawood 2473]

5. I’tikaaf is not compulsory, but is dependent on each individuals’ circumstances and situation. However, there is no doubt that whoever is able to partake in this blessed opportunity should do so as this will be a means for one’s heart to be cleansed from all previous sins. The Holy Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said:

“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari 2008]

6. This is a practice which was also performed by previous Prophets. The prophet Moses (as) prayed for 40 days on the mount of Sinai as is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:

‘And remember the time when We made Moses a promise of forty nights;’

[Al-Baqarah 2:52]

And so did his Messiah, Jesus (as). Before the advent of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) also observed this practice by supplicating in the cave of Hira.

7. The Promised Messiah (as) also observed this tradition, in 1886 C.E he travelled to Hoshiarpur and stayed there for 40 days for supplication and worship, where he was foretold by Allah the Almighty of a promised son.

8. The way in which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) practiced I’tikaaf according to multiple Ahadith is during the last ten days of Ramadan, as is mentioned in a Hadith:

‘The Messenger of Allah (may peace he upon him) used to observe I’tikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadan’

[Sahih Muslim 1172]

9. In a Hadith of Abu Dawood, it is sated that I’tikaaf can only be practiced inside a mosque, however due to such unprecedented circumstances this has been prohibited. Hazrat Musleh Ma’ud (ra) states that one may practice I’tikaaf outside of a mosque but the blessings are not the same.

10. Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba) has stated, “I’tikaaf cannot be practiced within a mosque, however those who want to practice this can do so within their homes by allocating a separate room”. [9 May 2020]

To conclude, we should all endeavour to gather as many blessings as we can in this blessed month so that we may strive towards righteousness and steadfastness. We as Ahmadi’s should most certainly remember our beloved Imam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), in our prayers and we should continuously pray for the success of Islam Ahmadiyyat.

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A New World after Covid-19?

The Answer Lies with Tahrik-e-Jadid

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We continuously read and hear that we are living in unprecedented times, western civilisation is at its lowest point in centuries, world economies are on the brink of collapse, oil prices have turned negative due to demand drying up – all of these are scenarios that were beyond imagination just a few months ago. The world as we knew it will not be the same and the way we used to live will undoubtedly change. However, what will the world learn from this pandemic? Many will be questioning why this is happening? Some may now look to find God; they will look for answers to their questions. This is where we can turn to the blessed scheme of Tahrik-e-Jadid to give us a few answers, a scheme established under divine guidance in November 1934 by a man in India, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad – Khalifatul- Masih II (ra).

Tahrik-e-Jadid which translates as “The New Scheme”, was initiated in response to a great wave of opposition to the Jama’at which was headquartered in Qadian, India.  As Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) launched Tahrik-e-Jadid, he laid out its purpose in a number of addresses. On one occasion, Huzoor (ra) said:

“The purpose of launching Tahrik-e-Jadid is to acquire such a fund with which Allah’s message can be delivered as far as the corners of the earth with ease and facility.” (Friday Sermon, 27 November 1942)

Tahrik-e-Jadid is not only a scheme of financial sacrifice, but a scheme that demands a complete overhaul of one’s personality and character. Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih II (ra) further explained in his book Nizam-e-Nau (The New World Order) that Tahrik-e-Jadid would be a forerunner to the scheme of Al-Wasiyyat (Nizam-e-Nau, p137). Indeed, a “New World Order” is literally unfolding before our very eyes.

As Ahmadi Muslim youth, this is our opportunity to be at the forefront in guiding the world towards our Creator. An opportunity to spread the true message of Islam and Ahmadiyyat far and wide. For this, we can take inspiration from our forefathers whose sacrifices decades ago enabled the Jama’at to spread globally. If we take a look at some of the faith inspiring incidents from the early years, it is only then that we get to understand what true sacrifice means.

It is narrated that in September 1936, soon after the launch of Tahrik-e-Jadid, 1300 members of the Community committed to do voluntary work during seasonal holidays and 200 young members dedicated their lives for the service of the Community for 3 years. Many pensioners moved to the Markaz and dedicated their life for the service of the Jama’at (Tehrikat-Khulafa, p143-144). It was sacrifices like these, and through the blessed scheme of Tahrik-e-Jadid, that laid the foundation for the Waqf-e-Zindagi scheme, which by the Grace of Allah we still see ongoing today.

In another faith inspiring incident, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih II (ra) narrates:

“One young man on hearing about the scheme, left his home town of Sarghoda and went to Afghanistan without a passport and started doing Tabligh. The government thwarted his efforts once they found him and imprisoned him in jail. This is where he started preaching to the guards and inmates of the prison and in turn starting influencing them. The prison officers decided to file a complaint against him, the Mullahs issued a fatwa for his death, however the commanding minister stated that he is a subject of the British Empire and that he must not be killed. Thus, under the protection of the Afghani government he safely reached India.

When I met him on his return, I said to him that he should have gone to a different country, he replied immediately that please tell me which country and I will go this very instance. It is worth mentioning, that his mother was alive at the time but he was prepared to travel to another country without seeing her.” (Khutbaat-e-Mahmood, vol 16, p758)

When one reflects and looks deeper into the blessed scheme of Tahirk-e-Jadid, it is only then that we see how relevant the principles and demands of Tahirk-e-Jadid are, especially in this current climate. For example:

  • Lead simple lives
    • When explaining this further, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) stated that we should consume one dish at meal times. Practising this in the current climate will not only help us save funds, but is also relevant as supplies in supermarkets are running low and we are forced to purchase a limited number of items.
  • Take up minor jobs if unemployed
    • Unfortunately, many Khuddam find themselves unemployed in the current climate. Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) stated “members should take up jobs no matter how insignificant – no individual should remain idle even if his income is two rupees.” This should act as an inspiration to the youth and they should be actively looking to take up temporary jobs in sectors that are hiring.
  • Learned Ahmadis to deliver lectures on the teachings of Islam
    • Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya UK has been using online platforms to deliver lectures and talks on a variety of topics. This commenced from quite early on during the lockdown – the objective was to look after the education and wellbeing of our youth. All Khuddam should make full use of these activities.

The above are just a few examples. All of which prove that the blessed scheme of Tahrik-e-Jadid is truly divine, that decades after its launch, all aspects of the scheme continue to be pertinent in this day and age, and will continue to do so after the lockdown and for years to come Insha’Allah.

When talking about Tahrik-e-Jadid and specifically Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) made his expectations very clear. Huzoor (ra) sates:

“I have laid out a programme before Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, and I remind them to pay heed to those matters that I have explained and always be ready to present themselves for the service of country and nation.

There is a clear picture in my mind about everything, and one part of this picture is Khuddamul Ahmadiyya. This in fact, is a spiritual upbringing and training of the army that will fight in the war against the enemies of Ahmadiyyat. That is to say, the army that will raise the flag of Ahmadiyyat with victory and success in enemy territory.” (Friday Sermon, 7th March 1939).

In the coming weeks, the UK Government plans to ease the lockdown and will announce new measures that society will be required to adopt. What these measures will look like are yet to be seen, but one thing we know is that society will start to form a new shape as social distancing and face masks become the norm. Let us pray that may Allah enable the world to turn to our Creator and give us the opportunity to shape the “New World Order” Insha’Allah.

May Allah allow us to live up to the expectations of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), and the expectations and guidance of beloved Huzoor (aba). May Allah also enable the Jama’at to grow from strength to strength, Ameen.

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Companions of the Promised Messiah (as)

A faith inspiring account of Hazrat Hafiz Ghulam Rasool Wazirabadi (ra) accepting the Promised Messiah (as).

Photo: Makhzan-e-Tasaweer

Hazrat Hafiz Ghulam Rasool Wazirabadi sahib  (ra): He wrote that following his Bai’at many people became his enemies and someone mentioned his unpopularity to an aristocratic person Raja sahib, who asked what was the basis of the enmity. Raja sahib said ask Hafiz sahib to come and say that he accepted the Ra’fe (exaltation) of Jesus  (as) as it states in the Qur’an and also mention the advent of Jesus as Ahadith state. An announcement was made in the city and thousands of people from all sects gathered. Hafiz sahib knew what he had to say and also knew no one would understand him, apart from perhaps one of his relatives. Raja sahib asked Hafiz sahib did he accept ‘exalting’ of Jesus and his advent and he replied that indeed he did. He said if people quietened down he would explain. He then said that he accepted the ‘exaltation’ of Jesus (as) as stated in the Qur’an and the advent of Jesus  (as) as stated in Ahadith. A loud cry of acclaim rose from the crowd and Hakeem sahib left. Hakeem sahib felt that someone had told Raja sahib that Hakeem sahib had managed to pull the wool over their eyes. Next day after Fajr a man came from Raja sahib and said that Raja sahib and the others were not satisfied with his response about the ‘exaltation’ and advent matter. Hakeem sahib asked what would satisfy them. The man said that he called Mirza sahib a Kafir. Hakeem sahib asked why should he call him a Kafir and the answer was because the Maulwis did. Hakeem sahib replied, ‘because the Maulwis call Mirza sahib Kafir, I also say Kafir.’ By this his intent was that he called the Maulvis Kafir. When the messenger went back and related what had happened it was opined that Hakeem sahib had once again pulled the wool over their eyes. The man was sent one more time and asked to get it in writing that Hakeem sahib considered Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, God forbid, a Kafir. Two days had passed and Hakeem sahib felt courage of conviction and told the runner that what he had said was correct that he considered them Kafir who called Mirza sahib Kafir. They were disappointed at this. Hakeem sahib quoted the Qur’anic verse at this point: ‘…This day have those who disbelieve despaired of harming your religion. So fear them not, but fear Me…’ (5:4)

Hakeem sahib wrote that following this, court cases were brought against him and those from whom he never expected falsehood gave false statements to the court against him. Hakeem sahib wrote that when he mentioned this incident to the Promised Messiah  (as) he laughed and said to conceal one’s faith to prevent disorder and chaos has a station as it is stated in the Qur’an,

‘And a believing man from among the people of Pharaoh, who concealed his faith…’ (40:29).

The Promised Messiah  (as) said it was good Hakeem sahib had understood the situation and saved his life from the hands of the wicked.

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