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The First Ever Virtual Rally

With the Covid-19 pandemic, social gatherings became increasingly difficult to organise. However, the progress of the community of the Promised Messiah (as) does not halt under the blessed leadership of Khilafat, so under the guidance of our beloved Imam (aba), a virtual rally was held to connect Khuddam from all over the country.

By Luqman Bajwa
Image by: MKA UK Isha'at

Sunday 9 September 2019; that was the day of the concluding session of the MKA UK National Ijtema 2019. It concluded a traditional busy summer for the Majlis that started with Ramadhan, the build up to Jalsa Salana UK 2019, Eid ul Adhia and wrapping up with a September Ijtema.

 

After the unfortunate events that led to the postponement of Jalsa Salana Qadian 2019, who would have thought we would have followed this with the summer that we have faced? Local Ijtema’at still took place as usual in early 2020, but only a handful of regions were able to hold their regional Ijtema before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown swept aside the usual summer programme for MKA. But of course, MKA UK didn’t cease its activities , taking inspiration and guidance from beloved Huzoor-e-Anwar (aba), MKA did what it does best; serving the wider community in whichever way it could, whether it was delivering food parcels and medicines to those in need, or assisting councils with delivery of PPE and much more.

 

However, the summer calendar was still missing  a flagship MKA UK event. The challenge was clear; the Majlis needed to come up with a way to bring everyone together, to allow Khuddam from across the country to connect with each other. Hence, with the guidance of Huzoor-e-Anwar (aba) a National MKA UK Virtual Rally was scheduled for 25-26 July 2020. The theme Huzoor-e-Anwar (aba) gave the Majlis to focus on was ‘The Status of the Holy Prophet (sa)’ and ‘The Life of the Promised Messiah (as)’. For once the weather forecast was not a factor for the event, as the “venue” would be YouTube. So, the MKA UK and MAA UK national teams presented a full weekend of Academic and Tarbiyyat programmes that with the grace of Allah were able to go some way to bringing the Majlis together once again.

 

The weekend started with a formal opening session with Naib Sadr MKA UK, Tariq Hayat, presenting live from MTA International Studios, at 10:40am, streaming on the MKA and MAA YouTube channel. The start was not without some small technical glitches, but the programme started only 10 minutes later than billed. After Tilawat, Nazm and a brief welcome by Tariq Hayat, Mirza Mahmood Ahmad (Auditor in AMJ International and Vice President Humanity First International) delivered a short talk. He shared a few words on how the blessed souls of Prophets and their successors understand the word of God and convey it to us in words and deeds.

 

After the opening session, Hafiz Ijaz Ahmad Tahir hosted the first Khuddam academics session. He presided over the judging of the Tilawat finals, interacting with each contestant and understanding how every Khadim prepared his Tilawat in his own unique way. This was interesting for the viewers as it gave them an insight into the manner in which contestants at Ijtema’at prepare their pieces.

 

This was followed by Salman Qamar hosting and judging the Nazm Finals. The session set the standard expected for participants over the weekend. Following the afternoon break the second Khuddam academics sessions switched to team competitions, starting with a very popular Kasoti competition, followed by the group presentations and team quiz.

 

The Nau-Mobaeen department (New Ahmadis) hosted their own academic session in parallel with Sammar Malik, Mohtamim New Ahmadis department, chairing the session. The session featured an inspiring speech by Hamza Iliyas, Naib Secretary New Ahmadis (UK Jama’at), and a presentation on the Life of the Holy Prophet (sa) by Humayon Uppal. The academics competitions consisted of Tilawat, Adhan, Prepared and Extempore Speech. Their session concluded with a Q&A with Raza Ahmed, Mujeeb Mirza and Zawar Ahmad Butt – all missionaries of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, serving in the UK.

Following the opening session, Atfalul Ahmadiyya hosted an impressive technical feat, hosting 510 Atfal across 10 parallel zoom sessions for the Tilawat Preliminaries. This was followed by Nazm Competition with 250 participants.

 

After the afternoon academics sessions, Atfalul Ahmadiyya hosted their keynote “Untold Narrations” show at 5.15pm, with Syed Taalay Ahmad (from MTA International News), sharing his experiences with Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba). The session was followed by the prepared speech preliminaries with 445 Atfal taking part. Further to this, 110 Atfal submitted essays and 150 took part in the calligraphy competition in offline submissions.

 

Saturday concluded with two special sessions, firstly a discussion on the topic of “Sports & Religion” hosted by Abdur Rauf Lodhi (Mohtamim Tabligh), and an international panel featuring Abdullah Dibba from the US (former captain of Jamia UK football team and missionary), Usman Jamil (former captain of MKA USA Basketball) and our very own Danish Nasir (captain of the AMYA Football team).

 

The final session of the day was the very much anticipated “Experiences with Khilafat” with Imam Ataul Mujeeb Rashid, followed by a Q&A . This was hosted by Naib Sadr Usman Ahmad in the MTA International studios with Imam Sahib on live video feed. With the grace of Allah, the show capped off a successful first day of the rally.

 

The second day started off very much like the first, with Naib Sadr Ali Khan, welcoming the audience back, and another inspirational guest speaker, Atta-ul-Momin Zahid (Missionary and Director MTA3 Al Arabiyya), sharing examples of the Holy Prophet (sa) regarding abstaining from vain activities. The Khuddam academics session was hosted by Shahzad Ahmad for the English Prepared and Extempore Speech Competition, and Ayyaz Mehmood Khan for the Urdu Prepared and Extempore Speech Competition. In parallel the Atfal YouTube channel hosted the live finals of the Atfal Academics finals, which featured live voting from the audience.

 

The afternoon Khuddam session started with the second Khuddam panel discussion session billed on the programme, with “Inspiring Convert Stories”, hosted by  Mansoor Clarke and joined by Jonathon Butterworth , Marwan Sarwar Gill  (tuning in from Argentina) and Saul Graham Page. The show turned into one of those sessions you did not want to end.

 

However, straight after the session the rally returned to the MTA International studios, to join hosts Raza Ahmed sahib and Attiqur Rahman (Mohtamim Tarbiyyat MKA UK), who invited 8 international teams to compete in a very special international exhibition quiz competition. The show turned into a truly unique feature of the rally, bringing teams from Ghana, Australia, Canada, USA, Norway, Sweden, Germany and UK in a variety of team quiz, popular answers and group presentation rounds. The various international teams really enjoyed participating and competing against their fellow Ahmadi brothers from around the world, and the hosts really managed to present the competition in a most interesting manner.

 

Over on the Atfal YouTube channel, Mubashar Zafri hosted an interesting show called “Charge the Criminal”. He was joined by  Sammar Ahmad  and Daanish Khurram to help Atfal solve three scenarios.

 

Finally, the rally concluded with a special final session hosted by Naib Sadr Adam Walker, inviting Sadr Majlis and Amir Sahib UK for their final message, with Amir Sahib closing the rally with silent prayers at 6.30pm.

 

This brand-new experience brought with it a lot of challenges, and also some very interesting feedback from participants and our audience.

 

One Khadim wrote:

 

“Assalamo Alaikum dear Sadr sahib,

 

I Hope you and the family are keeping well with the blessings of Allah, I just wanted to congratulate you on the brilliant Virtual Rally, Alhamdulillah it surpassed all the standards by a mile.

 

May Allah bless the whole team involved abundantly. I know you all will be busy in collecting red book points and I just wanted say there was none. It was amazing from every aspect.

 

Please pass my congratulations to Farhad sb too.

 

Wasalaam”

 

Another Khadim, from Africa, said:

 

“Mash’Allah, mubarak ho on the wonderful virtual rally. People like me were able to join in too, I really enjoyed it.”

 

Whilst another Khadim wrote:

 

“Assalamo Alaikum Sadr sb,

 

For the last two days I have watched a few parts of the virtual rally and my family kept up to date with it as well. My mum enjoyed watching it the most and Alhamdulillah we all learned many new things. So, I would like to say Jazak’Allah to you for organising this amazing event!”

 

This virtual rally was a brand-new experience for the audience and participants, but the same applied to the event orgranisers and committee. Yousaf Aftab, the Nazim-e-Ala of this event gave the following remarks:

 

“Alhamdulillah by the grace of Allah and the prayers of Huzoor-e-Anwar (aba), we were able to overcome many challenges in running and hosting our first ever virtual rally. The Covid-19 crisis has made us rethink our dynamics. Certainly, for us as a team we needed to adapt and be agile in creating an interactive and engaging programme to meet the needs of our Khuddam and Atfal brothers.

 

By no means was this an easy task as we had a very short period of time to deliver such an event to members of our Majlis, a lot of whom we have not met face to face for months.

 

The challenges of ensuring we could relate to the different styles of learning using such tools at our disposal that we didn’t have complete expertise in was a demanding task. It’s a fine line in creating a programme that meets the needs of all whilst ensuring you can keep them engaged and actively participating.

 

The other challenge was ensuring we could get across to all the Khuddam and Atfal in our Majlis and ensure they would be able to attend parts of the programme. In this we had to be creative of selling the programme to the Majlis and outlining why they should join the rally.

 

The collective efforts of the team and their ability to change, be more agile and work under pressure was notable. The cohesiveness of the team and their willingness to deliver the best result for the Majlis was certainly visible. The hours of planning undoubtedly payed off and highlighted to us that as a dynamic organisation, and with the continued prayers of our beloved Imam (aba), there isn’t anything we can do if we pray and persevere.

 

The motto Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) provided us with certainly shows that our youth can be nation builders and in all types of adversity can rise to new challenges as and when they come. We’ve learnt a huge amount from this experience and it is certainly something that will help us grow and develop, Insha’Allah. All praise belongs to Allah for giving us this opportunity and covering our shortcomings. Alhamdulillah.”

 

When asked about what motivated the Majlis to hold such an event, Respected Sadr sahib MKA UK said:

 

“We are extremely fortunate to receive constant guidance from Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba). The virtual rally would never have been organised if beloved Huzoor (aba) hadn’t instructed us to hold academic competitions and come up with a presentable plan.

 

In addition to the blessed guidance of beloved Huzoor (aba), the Majlis was extremely blessed to receive the prayers of our beloved Imam (aba) when the plan was presented to him. He blessed this event with his prayers with the words: ‘Allah ba barkat fermaye’, meaning that may Allah bless this event. Certainly, we saw the prayers of our beloved Imam (aba) being fulfilled throughout the course of this rally, Alhamdulillah.”

 

Being a completely online based virtual rally, accurate figures and statistics regarding the involvement of our Atfal and Khuddam participation were collected. The statistics for both days are as follows:

 

Day 1:

 

Atfal:

Total Views: 9522

Playbacks: 7000

Peak concurrent: 418

 

Khuddam:

Total Views: 8854

Playbacks: 10,000

Peak concurrent: 429

 

Day 2:

 

Atfal:

Total Views: 15,510

Playbacks: 8600

Peak concurrent: 428

 

Khuddam:

Total Views: 9007

Playbacks: 10,000

Peak concurrent: 429

 

 

By the grace of Allah, the rally brought many firsts. It was a first for the Majlis to host a lengthy live programme for two consecutive days.  At its peak there were over 750 live connections and over 10k total views on YouTube. The summer of 2020 will always be remembered as the summer where we were restricted to our own households, but due to the prayers and guidance of Huzoor-e-Anwar (aba), it won’t be remembered as the summer when MKA UK was locked down, Insha’Allah.

 

 

 

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Hatred Towards Ahmadi Muslims Permeates More Spheres Than We Think About

A Regional Nazim Tabligh posted a message condemning the terror attacks in Paris and promoting the peaceful teachings of Islam. However, hatred towards the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community meant that such a message of peace was not well received by some.

I posted something on my social media accounts recently regarding the incidents in France; these were quotes of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba condemning terrorism and stating that Islam is a religion of peace. To my surprise, my post went viral, but not exactly in the way one would hope. I woke up to an astounding amount of abuse on Linkedin. Being an Ahmadi Muslim, it was, of course, the usual group of individuals declaring me to be well on my “way to hell”, and that I would partake in “curses of all 1.2 billion other Muslims” (I’m quite sure the guy who said that didn’t ask all of them).

It’s very difficult reasoning with such people. As Ahmadi Muslims we do, as always, try to prove through our conduct that Islam is a religion of peace, not hate. But examples of such practice fall upon deaf ears.

What’s worse is that my post was literally defending Islam. The French President labeled Islam as a “religion in crisis”. My post merely pointed out that, in reality, that was not the case and that it was those identifying as Christian, whose numbers are dwindling. My post was nothing but condemning the recent attacks while defending the beautiful teachings of Islam. However, I was shocked with the hate I received, from those identifying as Muslim. I am sure they do not know what Islam truly means.

Yet on the other hand, I was very much moved by the messages of love that were directed my way. U nderstandably, there were people that were genuinely confused about what was wrong with what I had said; they were unaware of the prejudice that many Muslims harbour against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Here are some of the messages of support I received:

One non-Muslim gentlemen posted a comment saying: “I’m struggling to understand some of the horrendous and vitriolic comments that I’ve read in response to this post.”

Another message read: “The people commenting frivolously on a post related to condemning a horrid attack on a religion is being condemned by the believers, why are you guys even commenting on something you do not agree with. You can choose to ignore instead of hurling abuses or simply get yourself excused from Mr. Farasat’s professional network.”

A lady posted a comment which read: “Just fallen upon this post. I am of no religion. When I read the post I thought how good that someone is condemning the acts of violence that have been committed. When reading the comments WOW, some of you guys putting curses on the person who has written this post, being so hateful and saying that if he doesn’t follow the last prophet and those teachings that he can’t be a Muslim. I think whatever religion you follow you should advocate peace, however many of the comments on this post are completely awful and just go to show that if people are not following your teachings you hate them, you truly hate them… what a very sad state of affairs.”

Nevertheless, I feel sorry for all those who misunderstood the whole context of the post and were attacking me personally. But this demonstrates that if such hate can occur on a professional platform, one that has nothing to do with religion per se, then imagine how deeply the hatred of Ahmadi Muslims permeates those societies where persecution is backed by law.  We need to educate people including ourselves more than ever.

My post reached over 81,000 views (growing still). I urge all Khuddam to use social media as a tool to spread the message of love and peace as much as possible. Just imagine if a single effort can make such a big difference, then what can the collective achieve? Honestly, I am not an Imam but a normal Ahmadi Muslim who just loves his faith, his Khalifah and his religion. The abuse I received did move me quite a bit.  After hours in a state of disturbance, a light from within me boosted my faith and gave me so many reasons to keep continuing to spread the Islamic message of peace and love between all people.

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Amoomi Duties At Islamabad: Blessings To Remember

Khuddam reflect on moments during duties which they will hold onto forever.

  1. March 2020 announced the start of national lockdown in the UK and various other countries. With it brought great sorrow to Ahmadis around the world due to them not being able to meet Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba anymore. The Khuddam from Muqami region, who had recently been bestowed the privilege of doing regular duties since Huzooraba had shifted to Islamabad, were brought even more sorrow. They were informed that they would not be able to conduct duties in Masjid Mubarak. Nevertheless, whilst adhering to government guidelines Islamabad was closed to visitors. However, since the protection of the residence of the Khalifa-e-Waqt is still the responsibility of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya, by adhering to social distancing guidelines, duties were conducted during the lockdown. What is unique about these duties is that many of our Khuddam experienced numerous blessed and joyful encounters. Here are a few of the incidents Khuddam from Muqami region have experienced. I should point out that, in order to demonstrate the love that Khuddam have for our beloved Huzooraba, I have passed on these occurrences to be published as were received.

One Khadim narrates, “I am a Pharmacist by profession, and sometimes I travel further away from home to work in different pharmacies. One day after travelling a long distance, I came straight to Islamabad for my four-hour shift in the evening. When I arrived, I was famished and was shy to ask for any food from my shift in-charge. I prayed to Allah that I am in your holy land, so please relieve me from my hunger. After a short moment, I noticed that a Khadim was approaching my car. When I looked out, he answered: “Huzooraba has sent some refreshments for Khuddam, and this refreshment is for you, so please take some.” For a moment, there were tears in my eyes as I had just observed Allah’s love. There and then, I was convinced that this is purely the work of Allah who blessed and rewarded me for coming here to do duty.”

Another Khadim narrates, “I remember Jamia Ahmadiyya UK had the blessed opportunity of offering duties as soon as Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba had moved to Islamabad. It was Ramadan – a blessed and holy time and it was a Friday. Myself and my classmate were doing duty from 11am to 10pm at Qitta-e-Khas [inner compound]. I remember finding it particularly difficult to fast whilst offering duties; and every hour we would countdown to the moment of Iftar.

There was around an hour until Iftar, and we were particularly struggling at this point but all of a sudden, another Jamia student – who was offering his duty at scanning – needed a replacement so that he could offer his prayers. I volunteered, and walked to scanning whilst he went and offered his prayers.

I was only at scanning for a few minutes, and I knew I had to get back to Qitta-e-Khas soon; but right then and there, lo and behold, Huzoor-e-Aqdasaba opened the door of the Private Secretary’s office and looked outside. In that surreal moment, it felt like it was just me and my Khalifah. I hesitantly waved, not knowing that Huzooraba had even seen me. However, I saw my Beloved Khalifah smile at me, and wave at me before heading back inside his office. At that moment I realised the immense blessing of not only being in Islamabad offering duties for Huzooraba, but the sheer blessings of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Another Khadim narrates, “once Hazrat Ameerul Mumineenaba  came to inspect the field of Islamabad and to my good fortune I was outside having a drink of water. I was very fortunate to be one of the few that were accompanying His Holinessaba through the grass. During this 10-15 minute walk he turned towards me and asked whether my wife and daughter had arrived in the UK. To this I replied as of yet they have not but InshaAllah they would be joining me soon. It was a surprise for me as Huzooraba was very busy and interested in this inspection and the fact that he took time to ask about my family personally left me speechless and ever more thankful at  having the opportunity to serve so close to Huzooraba.”

Another Khadim narrates, “After Eid Prayers Huzooraba came out of the mosque and walked over to my class fellows and inquired about each of them, I was one of the few that were not there as I was on duty around the perimeter of Islamabad. When I found out Huzooraba had come to see our class, I was happy for those who were present there, however, a slight part of me wished I had been there as well. Soon after I saw a car approaching from which a young man came out and said Huzooraba has sent this for those who are on duty. It was Huzoor’saba Kahwah [traditional green tea] that Huzooraba had drank after the Eid Sermon and was a source of blessing for me and my colleagues. This reminded me straight away that however far I or anyone maybe, we are always in Huzoor’saba thoughts and prayers.”

Eid-ul-Adha was one of the most joyful days for Khuddam conducting duties in Islamabad. Not only because it was Eid, but that each Khadim received a precious gift from beloved Huzooraba that they will never forget. The gift bags had the Khadim’s name written on them and they contained various different items such as a tie, toppi, pair of socks and scarves.

One Khadim, upon picking up the gift pack from myself, became very emotional and could not express his gratitude. He said this motivated him even more to come and do Amoomi duties.

Another Khadim, when receiving the gift, excitedly sent an audio message to his Qiadat group, expressing his emotions and how blessed he was feeling. He said he wanted to share his feelings with his fellow Khuddam in the Qiadat so that those who are not taking part in the duties may listen and come forward.

In June and July 2020, I learnt that Huzooraba had graciously sent mangoes for all Khuddam who have been conducting duties in Islamabad. Sadr sahib instructed that they must be distributed immediately. As a result, a list of Khuddam was made and each one was contacted so they could collect the mangoes. Within the same day, almost all Khuddam on the list came delightfully and collected the Tabaruk [blessing]. I could personally see the joy on everyone’s faces when they came to collect the mangoes that Huzooraba had graciously sent for them. All were excited to go home and share this blessing with their families.

Duties in Islamabad have been blessed for every Khadim who participated. We hope and pray that this pandemic ends quickly so Khuddam can continue serving the Jama’at.

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The Power of Durood Shareef

Understanding the Need for Durood Shareef in Today’s World.

The Promised Messiahas says that there is now one way for us to seek salvation and the love of Allah. That is through complete devotion and obedience to the Prophetsa. As Allah the Almighty says to the Holy Prophetsa :

Say, If you love Allah, follow me: then will Allah love you and forgive you your faults. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (3:32)

This year’s theme approved by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih Vaba is: The Power of Durood Shareef.

The importance of such a theme cannot be taken lightly. Rather it is a theme that should be part and parcel of our entire lives. The love of the Holy Prophetsa should be infused within us with such vigour that we, as Ahamdi Muslim youth, are always ready to sacrifice ourselves to defend the honour of the Holy Prophetsa and seek to obtain the blessings of Allah the Almighty by invoking Durood on His beloved Messengersa.

The importance of loving the Holy Prophetsa was once explained by the Prophetsa himself. Hazrat Anasra narrates that Prophetsa said:

“None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.”

It is only by increasing our knowledge about the life of the Holy Prophetsa that we can truly love him and understand his exalted station. We should inculcate in ourselves, based on that knowledge, love, honour, and respect for the Holy Prophetsa; which is a requirement of our faith.

To truly send Durood, we must be conscious of the rank and honour that Allah the Almighty granted the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.

The Promised Messiahas stated:

“I always wonder how high was the status of this Arabian Prophet, whose name was Muhammad, (thousands of blessings and peace be upon him). One cannot reach the limit of his high status and it is not given to man to estimate correctly his spiritual effectiveness. It is a pity that his rank has not been recognised, as it should have been. He was the champion who restored to the world the Unity of God which had disappeared from the world; he loved God in the extreme and his soul melted out of sympathy for mankind. Therefore, God, Who knew the secret of his heart, exalted him above all the Prophets and all the first ones and the last ones and bestowed upon him in his lifetime all that he desired.

He is the fountainhead of every grace and a person who claims any superiority without acknowledging his grace is not a man but is the spawn of Satan, because the Holy Prophetsa has been bestowed the key to every exaltation and he has been given the treasury of every understanding. He who does not receive through him is deprived forever. I am nothing and possess nothing. I would be most ungrateful if I were not to confess that I have learnt of the true Unity of God through this Prophet. The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this perfect Prophet and through his light. The honour of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance, has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet.”

Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! You also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace. (33:57)

We should send blessings upon him, keeping in mind his high status and the great pains and lengths he went to  so that we could learn Islam, and with a realisation that even now it is only possible to come closer to Allah if we have love for him in our heart and follow his footsteps.

The Durood that we send upon the Prophet Muhammadsa should be heart-felt. The Promised Messiahas stated in a letter to one of his companions:

“Stay intensely focused in invoking Durood and seek blessings for the Holy Prophetsa with the same sincerity and discernment with which one seeks blessings for a dear one.”

Durood Shareef is a way to gain blessings, wipe out our faults and elevate our spiritual rank. Hazrat Anas bin Malikra narrated that the Holy Prophetsa said:

“Whoever sends salutations upon me once, Allah will send peace upon him tenfold, and will erase ten sins from him, and will raise him ten degrees in status.”

Durood Shareef is thus an essential part of the life of a Muslim. There is no other person upon whom so many blessings are sought, and in consequence of which so many blessings are reaped.

In today’s world where the blessed and noble character of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa is deliberately mischaracterised in the media, it is essential for us to not only counter such negativity by manifesting his exalted status, but it is equally important for us to always invoke salutations upon him.

It is only when we truly begin to love our beloved Prophetsa that we can truly be counted as Muslims, this is because it is in his practice that we find perfection, and it is by emulating his example that we can come to understand the significance and value of the teachings of Islam.

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