The resplendent glory of Islam shone forth from the Arabian peninsula in the 6th century to fundamentally alter the course of Human history. Driven by the injunctions of the Holy Prophetsa to “acquire knowledge even if you have to travel to China” the Islamic world rejuvenated the darkness of the middle ages and became within a few short years, the seat of learning and technological advancements, spanning geometry, geology, medicine, chemistry, physics and astronomy. Between much of the 8th and 14th century the Islamic world was the unrivalled global superpower in technological and scientific learning. The loss of this prestige was a travesty for the world of Islam and the Muslims, a situation which sadly persists to this day. Many historical explanations have been sought for this situation. However, one theological explanation is the loss of the initial zeal of faith in the Muslims, driven by a lack of unity and leadership in the Muslim world. The Prophetsa had presciently foretold that Allah removes knowledge from a people by the death of its scholars; the slow, yet almost inexorable decline of the Muslim mastery over worldly sciences perhaps indicated a sign from Allah (the Bestower of munificent graces) upon which Muslims would do well to reflect.
The rejuvenation of Islam at the hands of the Promised Messiahas offered an opportunity to stop this decline. The Promised Messiahas brought about a remarkable reformation in the condition of the Muslim Ummah and attitude towards scientific achievements. Many of the traditional ‘ulema’ (scholars) had turned against all forms of western learning and scientific pursuits, whereas others, notably from the Aligarh school rapidly adopted modernisation with such tenacity that the fundamental principles of Islam, such as belief in prayer or belief in the angels, were waylaid as of no use. The Promised Messiahas took the golden middle way pointing out that the ‘word’ of God and the ‘act’ of God could never be incongruent. Indeed, he pointed to many of the technological advancements of the day such as the modern printing press and the invention of the combustion engine as evidence in support of the prophetic truths contained in the Qur’an and Hadith and to be brought to use in the service of Islam. He had a remarkably scientific attitude in the 18th Century, suggesting the use of a controlled trial to test the acceptance of his prayers, encouraging the population at large to take up the plague vaccine and to ensure obedience to governmental hygiene regulations to stop its spread. Allah the Almighty had vouchsafed to him that members of his community would be distinguished in both spiritual and worldly knowledge. This prophecy that was fulfilled in part with the Nobel prize of Professor Abdus Salam, reported by the scientific commentator Professor Jim Al-Khalili to be the most remarkable scientist emerging from the Muslim world in the last 1000 years.
It is thus far from surprising that the Khulafa of the Messiah (may Allah have mercy on them all) have encouraged the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the development of a love for exploring the world God has created. The First Khalifah, Hazrat Maulvi Nooruddinra was known for his deep love of learning and was a renowned physician, acting for a period of 15 years as the personal physician for the Maharaja of Kashmir. He did not confine himself to a single school of medicine or thought, rather just like the earlier scientists and physicians of Islam he contented himself with knowledge wherever it was gleaned. Hazrat Chaudhury Zafrullah Khanra narrates: “He did not confine himself to what was generally known as the Yunani system of medicine. He procured several books from Egypt on the allopathic system in Arabic and made a careful study of them. He took lessons in the Hindi system from an aged Hindi Physician, Pandit Harnam Das, and studied Amrit Sagar and Sasrat with him… One day the Maharaja enquired from him: Why do you pay so much deference to Pandit Harnam Das? He replied: I revere him as my teacher”. Hazrat Maulvi Nooruddinra was well known for his love of books and would refer to them often. He was anxious to instil a love of learning in the Ahmadiyya Community and the Ummah in general, issuing the following declaration on 27th February 1911 “There is a scheme for the establishment of a Muslim University in India, and some of our friends have enquired whether they should contribute towards it… as the Muslim University project is a beneficent one, I consider it necessary that our friends should contribute in every way towards promoting it.”
In a similar way, the Second Khalifah Hazrat Musleh Maudra was at the forefront of promoting scientific progress and understanding within the community. In a seminal lecture in March 1926 entitled ‘Religion and Science’ delivered in Lahore, he touched on the fundamental precepts of the religious-scientific divide to show there was in essence no conflict between the two. He pointed out that there was incongruity between the Word and Act of God, so long as the religion was a living faith in God and not mere superstitious belief. He elucidated several verses from the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophetsa from the Hadith to show the perspicacity of the original Islamic texts relating to scientific matters. Amongst many examples, he explained the Hadith on killing rodents in sacred places, as foreshadowing rodents as a vector for contagious diseases. He related that sometimes misunderstanding is caused as religious knowledge and scientific knowledge form different domains and are required for different fields of human endeavour. He provided cogent arguments that Darwinian theories did not negate the existence of God, rather at most only pointed to the existence of a method, and provided the criteria to differentiate spiritual revelation from altered mental experiences seen in psychiatric disorders. Readers are encouraged to read the lecture in full since a brief summary cannot render justice to its insights. The work of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IIra was not solely theoretical but also practical – an article in Nature (June 1946) praised the establishment of the Fazl-e-Umar research institute at his direction: “A remarkable sign of the recognition of the important part which science must play in the India of the future is shown by the decision of the leader of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masihra, to devote a generous part of its funds to the foundation of a research institute. This community is responsible already for a number of educational institutions, including the Talimul Islam College, but its leader now considers the time to be ripe for a further development. The new research institute, the Fazl-e-Umar Research Institute, Qadian, is being opened at a time when India is undergoing a scientific renaissance, and private benefactions have their part to play in making this a success.” The institute was opened on 19th April 1946 by the prominent Indian scientist Sir Shanti Bhatnagar with Dr Abdul Ahmad named as the director. The main focus of the institute was biochemistry and agricultural technologies.
Due to this guidance from the Khulafa-e-Ahmadiyyat a culture of seeking the highest levels of education was embedded amongst the community. This went hand in hand with the ever present prophecy vouchsafed to the Promised Messiahas, “He (God) has conveyed to me that my followers will excel so much in knowledge and insight that they will confound all others with the light of their truth, their reasoning and their signs.” (Tajalliyate Ilahiya). This prophecy has been fulfilled multiple times through individuals of the community and most apparently with Prof. Abdus Salam, the first Muslim and Pakistani to win the Nobel Prize.
Upon Dr Abdus Salam winning the prize, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IIIrh initiated the gold medal scheme, where top achieving students of the community would be awarded a gold medal every year. At the time of introducing this scheme Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IIIrh wanted over 100 Ahmadi scientists who would follow in the footsteps of Dr Abdus Salam. Throughout his Khilafat, Huzoorrh drew the attention of the community towards achieving excellence and bringing about a new age of enlightenment. During an address to a gathering on the progress of the Fazl-e-Umar Foundation, Huzoorrh said: “The writings, speeches and observations of the Promised Messiahas abound in vast oceans of knowledge. If we could grasp their beauty and their beneficence and examine them from different angles and project in this manner our research to the world, even the whole of mankind dare not compete with us… Our research should be intellectual and should scintillate with spiritual flashlights. There would otherwise be not much to choose between our contribution and that of a lay thinker and author. It will carry no weight. The secularly-minded philosophers and writers have amassed a big store of knowledge. But they have failed to save the world from moral and spiritual death.”
The focus being that Ahmadi’s need to avail themselves of the knowledge and methodologies developed by secular scholars, but Ahmadis can take benefit of spiritual insight that may elucidate the truth. Within this he expounds the Islamic philosophy of truth in inquiry and the weight it puts on honesty and integrity, a point modern, secular researchers would do well to heed.
Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IVrh embodied the idea of an “intellectual discourse, scintillating with moments of spiritual flashlights”. From Friday Sermons to the Q&A meetings held in Fazl Mosque, London, there is not a topic within the sphere of science he did not cover with bewildering rigour and philosophical discourse. His magnum opus, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth is a beautiful illustration of the interplay between both natural and social sciences and the knowledge contained within the Holy Qur’an.
Time and time again he encouraged Ahmadis to study science. Often mid-way through a sermon, a topic for further investigation would arise and once again he would stop to draw the attention of Ahmadi scientists. In a deeply philosophical Friday Sermon on Ayat An-Noor and the nature of Noor [Light] in the universe, he unites seemingly disparate fields of interest back to the Noor of Allah.
These constant reminders took on a very focussed programme within the time of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba. From the outset of his Khilafat, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba engaged directly with the youth, reminding them of the importance of science and achieving excellence in education.
The address he delivered in the final session of the AMRA conference in 2019 is just one example of how the Khilafat of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has bequeathed to the Muslim Ummah a thirst for knowledge that shall most certainly usher in a new golden age of Islam.
Shahid Diaries – Sarfraz Bajwa
A Murabbi narrates anecdotes from staying in Islamabad during the pandemic
Huzooraba took a lot of care of us while we were here, down to the smallest details. During one class he began asking us how the food is. A few students said it’s normal Langar food: Daal, Aloo Gosht and occasionally pasta. I had been craving buttered chicken for the past week so I jokingly asked Huzooraba if we could have buttered chicken. Huzooraba laughed and jokingly said there was a lot of fat in butter which was not good for my health. I jokingly replied that I would have less butter and more chicken. Huzooraba laughed but said he agreed that they should make food that everyone wants to eat so that people do not feel the urge to go out and get fast food since going outside into public places and restaurants was a risk due to COVID-19. I thought that that was the end of that.
The day after that class Huzooraba came for Asr prayer as usual. However, after prayers he came outside into Masroor Hall where our class was staying. He came and inspected our beds and sleeping area. As we had just moved in not to long before, many of us still had their clothes in their suitcases. I had recently ordered quite a few things online and they were scattered all over my bed and my area. I was not next to my bed so Huzooraba asked one of my classmates whose bed this was to which he replied it was Sarfraz’s bed. Huzooraba said that it was very messy and then continued to the rest of the beds. He noticed that most of us were living out of our suitcases so he instructed Sadr Khuddamul Ahmadiyya to get some sort of cupboards to put our clothes in. Then Huzooraba made his way to the kitchen and the first thing Huzooraba said to the chefs as soon as he walked in was “Aap ko buttered chicken banana ata hai?” [Do you know how to make buttered chicken?] The chefs were startled at this question and said yes and instantly began reciting the recipe for buttered chicken and describing how it was made. Huzooraba laughed and said that they should make it then. When I asked Huzooraba if we could have buttered chicken, I said it as a joke just to make Huzooraba laugh. I could not have imagined Huzooraba would come out, go to the kitchen and tell the chefs to make it for us! I realised how much love and attention Huzooraba was showing us.
Two days later the cupboards arrived and we set up our areas. That day Huzooraba came out again to inspect our sleeping area. I had tidied up and sorted my things away neatly, so I was looking forward to Huzooraba seeing the difference. But Huzooraba only inspected the area on the other side of the hall briefly before going back inside. I didn’t think too much about this until the next class when Huzooraba asked me if I had tidied my area. I said that I had. Huzooraba said it was quite unorganised last time. I explained that I had ordered a few things online and just left them lying around to open later. But I had packed them all away in the cupboards Huzooraba had gotten us. Huzooraba said “main doosri dafa tumhari jagah peh nahi aya taakeh tumhai yeh na lage ke main baar baar chaapah maarne aajata hoon” [I did not inspect your area the second time in case you start feeling like I have come to raid your area.] I laughed and said that I had organised everything in the cupboard. This was a beautiful example of Huzoor’saba compassion, he did not want me to feel embarrassed in case I had not yet been able to tidy up.
The Sermon that Brought Khuddamul Ahmadiyya into Existence
1938 marks the year of the establishment of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmadra, The Promised Son. Initially, its aim was to encourage young individuals to serve the Jama’at. However, today its impact can be felt in hundreds of countries with thousands of members actively working in various roles in the Jama’at.
On 1 April 1938, Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IIra presented the idea of forming Khuddamul Ahmadiyya to the community. Throughout the speech he stressed the need to reform the youth. He explained how this organisation would need to work to properly achieve its goal. He also mentioned the many advantages of this organisation, what it can contribute to the Jama’at and how it will nurture and develop the minds of young individuals. He said:
“I have frequently reminded the Jama’at that a nation cannot be reformed without reforming its youth. If the new generations are devoid of faith and the principles established by Allah the Almighty through His Prophets, the nation cannot develop and take a step forward. Of course, development will happen, but it will happen and stop, or it will prosper, but then hardships will occur. This way, it will rise and fall like the mountains. But hardships are not a good thing, rather they are bad, and should be dealt with as fast as possible. Thus, it is clear that [especially in this era] without proper training, one cannot deliver the true message of Islam to the world.
It is crucial to cultivate and improve the upbringing of children and women. If one wants to ensure the success of Tehrik-e-Jadid, then he needs to establish associations for young people just like there are for Lajna Imaillah. When this idea arose in some young individuals in Qadian, they set up an organisation named Khuddamul Ahmadiyya with my permission. As it is beneficial to work with people of a similar nature, I permitted them to include people with similar experiences. But I also urged them, if possible, to have other individuals and also to consider that those who join gain interest in helping. I advised not to include people who are learned scholars in the Jama’at. Due to this, some companions misunderstood and one missionary came to meet me and asked, ‘are you angry with me?’ I replied, ‘I am not. What gave you this idea that I am angry with you’. He said ‘I have been informed that you are not allowing me to join the ranks of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya’. To which I then replied, ‘This situation is not just for you, but for anyone who possesses special skills, they are prohibited from joining, and the reason for this is that if the elders are also permitted to join, this would result in only the elders being elected as president, the secretary etc. They would always accept the elder’s advicex and due to this, they will not think on their feet and would remain unintelligent.’ For example, if one joins any association or gathering, it would be natural to elect the Khalifatul-Masih as he holds the highest status with Allah, so he would be elected president. As a result, the training gained by working as a president will be neglected, and the Jama’at will be deprived of this experience.
Thus, I have especially advised them not to include intellectuals and scholars, so they can work and gain experience by doing things themselves. However, you can accommodate individuals of the second or third rank to gain interest in working and figure out how the Jama’at operates. I have noticed that so far, they have worked very hard and very well. I understand that if I had allowed missionaries like Maulvi Abul-Ata Allah Dita or Maulvi Jalaluddin Shams, or any missionary to join the organisation, any announcement that they have written so far would have been written by them. They would be the ones to have addressed any objection, and no young individuals would be aware of how they are being answered. Therefore, I stopped the missionaries from joining [Khuddamul Ahmadiyya]. Although I have said to ask for advice from [scholars], if you write anything, write it yourself, so you feel responsible for it even if you feel extremely worried. So, they read books and asked people regarding what ideas to address. After this, they wrote essays and reviewed them multiple times. But when they finally presented the articles, they were written brilliantly. I have realised that their articles are on par with other articles. Even if it takes them a month or two to produce something that people like me, who are well versed in writing, can produce in one or two hours without any aid: while it took them ten people working for a month to produce it but what resulted is that the spiritual knowledge hidden from their eyes appeared in front of them; they read and expanded their knowledge. If they continue this, many works of literature like the recorded books of Islam, commentary of Islamic texts, books of Ahadith, books of jurisprudence, the books of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas and many more like this will appear in front of them, and their souls will thrive with knowledge.”
Hazrat Musleh Maudra also emphasised that community branches outside of Qadian should also set up Khuddamul Ahmadiyya in their respective regions. He also advised on how each Khadim should act. He stated that “You should forget that anyone else in Qadian is left for this role. You should understand as if you are the only one who has been tasked with this responsibility, as one cannot call himself a true believer if he implies that this is my role and that is your role. A true believer is not one that chooses his responsibilities”.
Indeed, from this we learn that Khuddamul Ahmadiyya was formed with high expectations from the second Khalifah. It is when we understand our role as Khuddam that we can work towards fulfilling the grand task of reforming our youth.
Connection with Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya
The Qaid of Dundee Qiadat shares his experience of Khilafat in relation to the acceptance of prayer
Khilafat is a divine source of guidance and being an Ahmadi Muslim I believe we are immensely fortunate to experience this on a day-to-day basis. Even though some of us cannot physically see our beloved Khalifah every day we still have a powerful spiritual connection with him.
Personally, I have experienced a connection with Khilafat in a variety of different ways. One example is the satisfaction and reward when you write to beloved Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba for prayers.
There are a multitude of examples that I can narrate on acceptance of prayers but the one I have selected is from the time when I moved to the UK and claimed asylum in order to escape persecution in Pakistan. During this initial period, I was moved to a detention centre where I was held for almost 5 weeks. The availability of a fax machine in the detention centre meant I wrote to beloved Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba for prayers every day. I had a great desire to attend my first ever Jalsa Salana UK and expressed this through various letters to Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba.
For various reasons, the first detailed interview regarding my detention could not be completed in the initial meeting and it seemed very unlikely that I would be able to attend Jalsa Salana that year as it was a mere three weeks away. Despite this, I had faith and continued writing letters to Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba daily.
After a long week, I was informed of the decision of my case – it was rejected. I was shocked, worried and mostly saddened that I will now definitely miss Jalsa Salana UK. At this point I increased the number of letters I sent to Huzooraba, sending him 2 letters a day. I appealed the decision and my court hearing was scheduled with just two weeks to go until Jalsa.
The day prior to my hearing, I phoned the Private Secretary’s office and requested if they can pass my request for special prayers to Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba. I was interviewed in court for several hours. Once the judge was happy that she had all the necessary information, I was informed that due to her busy schedule she wouldn’t be able to give a decision on my case anytime soon. This meant that, even if within the next week there was a positive decision, I would still miss Jalsa Salana. I immediately wrote a letter to Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba explaining the whole situation.
Early the next morning, my phone rang whilst I was still half asleep. It was a call from my solicitor in which he informed me that he had some good news. He had just received a fax from the Home Office that I had been granted Refugee status. I was in shock for a while because the news came so unexpectedly. My heart was full of praise to Allah for He had listened to the prayers of the Khalifah. To this day, it astounds me that I was the recipient of the blessings of those prayers.
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