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The Greatest Tyrannies Are Always Perpetrated In The Name Of The Noblest Causes

By Nauman A Hadi
Published on March 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm

I have never been able to understand the die-hard attitude of those who believe they can say whatever they like without fear of reprimand or sanction. Society would not be able to function without limits placed on actions—it is only sensible to extend those limits to words too, and of course, we most certainly do impose such limits on what you can say. You cannot, for instance, shout racial slurs, you cannot slander someone in public, and you cannot cause injury to protected minorities for all these greatly disturb the peace of any society. Is disorder, hatred, and deep grudges worth the right to cause offense?

I understand the passionate plea for freedom of speech; for most of our history—and in many parts of the world, the present—we have not given ourselves the freedom to speak our minds without fear of censorship. It is often those that are suppressed the hardest that spring back with the most force, however, the response to one extreme surely cannot be another extreme. Yes, saying anything that hits your tongue: however bare, unfiltered, crude, rude and provocative is an aspect of extremism. There is no other way to describe it. To cause anguish to millions by injuring their sentiments by way of words is not “freedom” and to impose, in order to protect the peace of a land, limits upon what can be said or written is not “backward” it’s just common sense. When did respecting that which others hold dear become the mark of a society who has not yet advanced into a mature civilisation?

It is for this reason that when I, along with almost everyone I know, saw the Charlie Hebdo front cover, I was horrified. The question isn’t what’s offensive about it, it’s where to begin! The cover of Charlie Hebdo depicts the Queen kneeling on the neck of the Duchess of Sussex (in a sick parody of George Floyd’s murder) with the words “Why did Meghan leave Buckingham? Because I could not breath” in bold next to the cartoon. Most people are outraged by this, and rightly so: it’s a step too far which cuts deep into issues that have torn entire countries down the middle.

When Charlie Hebdo published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammadsa the entire Muslim world was outraged. Most western politicians offered their solidarity to Charlie Hebdo as they believed it was “championing” freedom of speech—perhaps now people can comprehend how Muslim sensibilities were hurt. When vile depictions of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa had been published before, the head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih Vaba [Fifth Caliph of the Messiah], stated:

“We tell the world that any kind of vulgar expression about any sacred person of any religion does not constitute freedom in any way at all. You apparently champion democracy and freedom of expression, but play with the sentiments of others; this is neither democracy nor freedom of expression. Everything has a limit and some code of conduct. Just as there are codes of conduct in all professions, there is also a code of conduct in journalism. Just as no matter what kind of government there is, it has its rules and regulations. 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, then this freedom does not lead to advancement, rather it leads to decline.”

The true issue at the heart of the so called satirical depictions in the journalism, if you can call it that, of Charlie Hebdo is causing such a rift in society which causes hatred to grow. Indeed, Islamic teachings are categorical on the matter of hurting the sentiments of others—the Holy Qur’an teaches Muslims to not insult the gods of others for it will lead to them returning such words and a cycle of animosity will begin. True freedom of speech and expression were enshrined in law to safeguard the rights of those who were oppressed; the objective was never for those who ridiculed for their own pleasure to go unchallenged.

Words do injure—injure in such a way that destroys the peace of a country. This is something that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Promised Messiahas, foresaw and made many efforts to stop his countrymen abusing and insulting each other. In his view this would sow the seeds of discord for generations to come. In his book The British Government & Jihad, the Promised Messiahas explains the harm inflammatory language and publications are causing in aiding the spread of hostility, he then suggests:

“For an experimental period of a few years, every group should be strictly forbidden from using vicious language against other religions, be it explicit or implicit, in their writings or in their sermons. They should, however, be permitted to recount the virtues of their own faith. This will prevent the cultivation of new plants of hatred and as ancient tales fade away people will be inclined towards mutual love and reconciliation.”

Similarly in his grand writing on inter-faith harmony, the Promised Messiahas explains:

“O my dear countrymen, I have not expressed this view to offend you or to hurt your sensibilities in any way. But I do desire to submit, in all sincerity, that those who have made it their second nature to vilify the Prophets of other faiths and consider this unjustified behaviour to be a part of their faith commit an act of unwarranted interference in others’ affairs. They not only sin against God, but they are also guilty of sowing the seed of discord and enmity among mankind. Now answer me with hand on heart: if someone abuses another’s father or accuses another’s mother of unchaste conduct, will this not be tantamount to assailing the honour of his father himself? If anyone retaliates with similar abuses, will it not be appropriate to say that in reality the blame lies with the person who initiated it? In that case he himself would be the offender of his parents’ honour.”

These words were written over 100 years ago and they contain great truth. Those who ridicule others and hide behind the slogans of “championing freedom of speech and expression” are not the well-wishers of even their own people, for they sow the seed of animosity amongst their own neighbours.

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Spirituality in the New Space Age

Where Missions Meet Missionaries

Every night, the universe reveals itself in all its galactic glow. The light of astral bodies—suns, stars and moons—streak and stipple the night sky, expanding the margins of our world as the vast cosmos comes into view. We peer into the dark of the unknown, tracing light that warps and wefts from afar, launching telescopes, rovers and probes at the sky to better understand our place in the wider universe. The latest in our mission for greater understanding was the launch of the James Webb Space telescope. But as we beam signals of our curiosity to the farther corners of the galaxy, will we be ready for what we might find?

The successful launch of NASA’s $10 billion space telescope will see an ambitious 10-year mission to seek out planetary systems hospitable to life. Propelled nearly a million miles away from Earth, the telescope will analyse infrared light, observing some of the earliest galaxy formations in the universe. The hope to find evidence for extraterrestrial life, however, raises questions on how religions may react to the discoveries found in space — questions that the Centre for Theological Inquiry hopes to answer with the help of 24 theologians.

For example, did Jesus atone for the sins of different life forms across the universe? What if other life forms were found, would our relationship with God change? Ultimately, how might religion make sense of what is out there as we take our giant leaps for mankind across the galaxy?

At first glance, it may seem that religions would struggle with such questions, and that any reverence held for theology would become obsolete in this new space age. Islam however doesn’t need to grapple with these concepts — the Quran explicitly mentions alien life and its wider spiritual significance within its opening chapter no less.

“All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.” – Chapter 1, verse 2

The introduction of God as ‘Rabb Ul Alameen’ (Lord of all the worlds) establishes our relationship with Him. God is not for one people, but for all creation in every plane of existence. That He is ‘Lord of all the worlds’ also speaks to the universality of His Rule and Reach — something that is referred to later on more specifically.

At another place, the Quran strikingly refers to other life forms:

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures (daabbah) He has spread forth in both. And He has the power to gather them together whenever He pleases.” – Chapter 42, verse 30

The Arabic word used for living creatures — daabah — has specific connotations to animals that are land-dwelling and move along the surface of the earth, thus indicating the existence of life beyond our planet. This verse continues on to claim that “He has the power to gather them together whenever He pleases”. The Arabic term for ‘gather’ جمع (jama’) can mean, among other things, gathering together physically or drawn closer in proximity, suggesting that we will make some form of contact with extraterrestrial life.

In another verse, the Quran mentions that there are other planets that are hospitable to life:

“Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof…” – Chapter 65, verse 13

Here the Quran claims that just as there are ‘seven heavens’, there are also ‘seven earths’. The number seven is significant in Arabic because it symbolises repeating patterns, or multitudes of a thing. Taken together, the Quran explains that there are almost innumerable Earth-like planets that harbour life just like ours.

But this verse continues on to a more extraordinary claim:

“…The divine command comes down in their midst, that you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge.”

The term ‘divine command’ can be taken to mean revelation. Thus, according to the Quran, there is life out in the cosmos that are aware of God’s existence through revelation that is sent down to them. This brings us back to the initial introduction of God in Islam as ‘Lord of all the worlds’ – all the worlds that have life and are made aware of their Creator.

Ultimately, Islamic theology is replete with references to the vastness of the cosmos and the various forms of life it holds. It speaks in unequivocal, unambiguous and unadaptable terms. Man is not the only creation of God. That God is also Al-Khalaq (the Creator), who ceaselessly creates and perfects His creation, also points to other forms of life existing beyond our own planet. Rather than ending spirituality, our cosmic discoveries can validate its true origins. So as we begin to extend our reach across the stars, we may find that in the dark expanse of the universe, our spirituality shine in a new light.

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Qaid: A Leader, Brother, Khadim.

Qaideen Forum 2021

The word Qaid means leader. Throughout Islamic history the term has been used for leaders within Islamic communities, in fact, it has even entered Latin in the form of Alcayde.

But cutting across the fabric of time and the worldly connotations of the past, today it refers to a Muslim youth leader who guides and leads others in the spiritual sense. It is upon discussion of this that local Qaideen from across the UK have met in Baitul Futuh and Darul-Aman at the Qaideen Forum of Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya UK.

The point of this gathering is to discuss and contemplate how to further the spirituality of thousands of Khuddam across the country. Sitting at the back and observing this event one would find something that is perhaps not mirrored in other. Most of the Qaideen are young, they’re eager to discuss how to further the Talim and Tarbiyyat of their fellow Khuddam.

The event starts off, in the opening session, with a video being played of Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba addressing a Khuddam gathering. Huzooraba explains that the role of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya is to protect Khilafat. This goes above and beyond Amoomi duties or any physical protection: true protection is to act upon the words of the Khalifah, to spread them and to get people to follow them. Merely promising that we shall fight left and right is not the actual Jihad, the true Jihad is the acting upon Huzoor’s instructions. Khuddam should look towards the Khalifah’s words, it is the specific task of Khuddam to imbue the youngsters with this spirit.

This year’s Qaideen Forum (12 December for the southern Regions at Baitul Futuh and 18th December for northern regions at Darul-Aman) is split into 2 main workshops: a discussion on the Lahe-Amal (Conduct Manual) and a interactive session on true leadership.

The interactive workshop is very enjoyable, videos of Huzoor addressing various issues that Khuddam face are continuously played. For example in one video Huzoor advises that if something is not working, Khuddam office bearers should change strategy and that Khuddamul Ahmadiyya should work according to the temperaments of people.

The discussion in the second workshop which runs simultaneously is equally important and beneficial. The Lahe-Amal (conduct manual) is discussed and the nature of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya along with its setup is explained. This workshop is delivered by 3 Naib Sadrs (Usman Ahmad Sahib, Tariq Hayat Sahib and Dr Anas Rana Sahib) all of whom have extensive experience in Khuddamul Ahmadiyya. Perhaps the most important part of the presentation, and one that captures everyone’s attention immediately is how Khuddamul Ahmadiyya began: the actual incident that led to it being established—how Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IIra asked a group of Khuddam who were not scholars to form a board which was named Khuddamul Ahmadiyya a few days later.

Khuddam are given the opportunity to mix and socialise (with social distancing in place!) so they can learn from each other and a lot of interesting conversations take place.

At the end a collective concluding session takes place with many questions being asked by Qaideen. For the benefit of everyone some of these questions and the answers given are presented below:

1. I am a local Qaid, who can get Khuddam emails?

Answer: anyone who holds an office in Khuddamul Ahmadiyya should be conducting Khuddam activities on an official email address. For further information on this you can contact [email protected]

2. What if a Khadim says he cannot give time, do I block him out?

Answer: That would be damaging in the long run. Even if a Khadim can only give 1 hour a month, then that should be utilised and eventually when a relationship develops and the Khadim draws closer to you as a local qaid he may begin to dedicate more time

3. How can we engage with students?

Answer: There are a lot of AMSA engagements that take place over the year. Every university does have an AMSA body and they should plan their annual calendar of events accordingly. Sometimes getting students to do presentations about their own studies can help with engagement.

4. I’m concerned about the physical wellbeing of Khuddam, are there any individual resources that can used during lockdown?

Answer: the Sehat-e-Jismani department has been planning and holding events such as the Khuddam Football League. But as a local qaid if there are Khuddam who cannot participate in such group activities then you should look to arrange some other form of exercise plan which can benefit your Khuddam, this can be done in by working with the national Sehat-e-Jismani team.

5. Are events taking place, I have planned my local Ijtema but am uncertain about restrictions?

Answer: Every region has a Disaster Management Committee. Before planning any event or gathering you should present your plan to them, and they will be able to advise as to whether the event should take place based on whatever the current guidelines of Covid restrictions are. This should not dissuade you from planning events, you just need to ensure that the Regional Qaid is aware and that proper planning has gone into the Covid side of the event.

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Honouring our Pledge: What, Where, When and Why?

The theme for the Khuddam year beginning now is “Honouring our Pledge”. It’s time to start evaluating whether we’re fulfilling the promise we’ve been making.

Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya UK is happy to announce the new theme approved by Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih Vaba as Honouring our Pledge. Here’s a quick read to get you thinking about the theme and what the focus will be for this Khuddam year.

Of course, we all know that Islam lays particular emphasis upon fulfilling one’s promises; whether they relate to everyday matters, one’s family, work or religion. But in this case the theme refers to our Khuddamul Ahmadiyya pledge: the one where we stand-up, place our right hand above our left, and recite in unison at the beginning of Khuddam gatherings. This year’s theme is not about a pledge, rather the pledge. (Download it here!)

 

 

The Khuddam pledge goes back to the inception of Khuddamul Ahmadiyya itself. All auxiliaries within the Jama’at have their pledges according to their aims and objectives. As part of the Khuddam pledge Tashahhud is recited and then the pledge reads:

“I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammadsa is the servant and messenger of Allah. I solemnly pledge that I shall always be ready to sacrifice my life, wealth, time and honour for the sake of my faith, country and nation. Likewise, I shall be ready to offer any sacrifice for guarding the institution of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. Moreover, I shall deem it essential to abide by any ‘maroof’ decision made by Khalifatul-Masih. Inshallah”.

This is what we pledge (and have been pledging since we were Atfal, though the Atfal pledge speaks about honesty and not using foul language instead).

Khuddam reciting the pledge before Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V at National Ijtema 2021.

The Khuddam pledge can be traced back to 1938 where only the first part relating to sacrificing wealth, time and honour can be found. It was later that amendments were made by Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih IIra adding to the pledge.

The Khuddam pledge talks about sacrificing four things we hold dear:

  1. Life
  2. Wealth
  3. Time
  4. Honour

Though a true Khadim is always ready to sacrifice his life—as we saw in the recent example of Syed Taalay Ahmad Sahib Shaheed—in this day and age what we are asked of most frequently is to sacrifice our wealth and time. Wealth is sacrificed in the form of chandas and charity whereas time is sacrificed by committing a certain portion of it in pursuit of the Majlis’ activities. If we reflect upon the history of Islam, this is indeed a very small sacrifice that we are being asked to make. Today’s jihad is that of self-reformation and we are not burdened as Muslims were burdened in times of the past. Therefore, this makes it even more important to ensure we are living up to the little we are being asked to commit.

Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih III leading Khuddam in the pledge. The Khuddam pledge is as old as the organisation itself.

Undoubtedly, this new year will bring a revived focus around the pledge and what it means. But on an individual level we should begin contemplating and evaluating the extent to which we fulfil our pledge.

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