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‘They Are Living, Only You Perceive Not.’

A decade has passed since the horrific act of terror committed against the Ahmadi Muslim Community in Lahore on 28 May 2010. Anas Salman is a young Muslim who witnessed the atrocious attacks on one of the mosques, Dar uz-Zikr. Read his eye witness testimony below.

By Muhammad Mussawar Ahmed

One of the most brutal attacks ever encountered by this community was the Lahore attacks of Pakistan on 28 May 2010. As we reflect upon a decade since those martyrs who sacrificed their lives in this inhuman act of terrorism, it is difficult to understand the pain that the families of the affected went through. The attack took place in two Ahmadiyya mosques in Lahore, Pakistan whilst the peace-loving Ahmadis were busy in Friday prayers. The responsibility of this attack was claimed by Tehreek e Taliban, Pakistan. The attack was carried out in two different mosques (Dar ul-Zikr & Bait al-Noor) at the same time. The initial attack was followed up by making the people inside the two mosques hostages for hours . The saddest part of this brutality was that the attackers entering the mosque murdered everyone they found alive indiscriminately. Moreover, a lack of proper support from authorities made it even easier for these perpetrators to shed blood of innocent Ahmadis without fear.

However, it was the courage of our courageous Ahmadi brothers who eventually overpowered two of the attackers in Model town mosque and handed him over to the police. An eyewitness and survivor of the attack named Anas Salman, a Khadim who now lives in the UK, explains this whole experience in the following words:

“It was one of those days which I can never forget. I got up from the office and went to Garhi Shaho mosque (Dar ul-Zikr) for Jumma prayer. When I reached there, I offered my first set of ‘sunnat’ prayers and as soon as I finished my prayers, I heard gunshots. The Murabbi sahib who was delivering the sermon asked the worshippers to stay calm. Soon, we noted that bullets started getting fired from one of the mosque hall windows on the left and some people got injured.  People started running to save their lives towards the right corner of the hall. Murabbi sahib started reciting prayers in loud voice but all of a sudden, the door behind him was blasted with a grenade and he embraced martyrdom in front of my eyes. A terrorist entered from the destroyed door and started firing. I was in the second last row, so I ran towards the back door with others and came to the open hallway.

As soon as we came to the hallway, one of the terrorists there blew himself up in a suicide blast. We tried to run to save our lives by hiding in the toilets, rooms and underneath the staircase. During that time, we continuously heard the gunshots. When I looked around, I saw myself surrounded by around 30 people which included children as well. People were in a state of shock and some were calling police, whilst others were calling their loved ones to say final good byes. I also tried to call my mother but the network was busy. I was worried about what would happen next. Suddenly, one of the attackers fired at us from the opposite ceiling of the hall. Many people got hit and I also got hit with two bullets: one on the upper chest and the other penetrated my arm. I wanted to talk to my mother one last time but the network didn’t allow it. I laid there in despair waiting to embrace death. Luckily there was a basement beside that staircase. When I realised that I am still breathing after 15 minutes, I gathered my strength and asked all others to go into the basement. It was half past 3 and we could still hear the gunshots. After some time, my phone rang and I could hear my mother’s voice on the other side. I got emotional after listening to my mother and started crying. However, the reply my mother gave shook me and raised my morale. She replied back by saying: ‘Son, you are God’s property and whatever He will do for you will be better’. These words really gave me a boost and I asked her to give the phone to my father. She said that he is in ‘sajda’ and is not getting up. I asked them for prayers and said goodbye.

Bullet holes in the walls of one of the Mosques in Lahore.

Bullet holes in the walls of one of the Mosques in Lahore

We could still hear firing and gunshots, so we stayed in the basement and started praying. At around half past 5, we heard chants of ‘Allah o Akbar’ and the announcement asking us to come out as everything was alright now. However, these voices were suppressed by a loud bomb blast. We felt that the ceiling of the mosque would fall upon us but we remained safe. Later on, we realised that it was systematically plotted by terrorists due to which they managed to kill more people. At around half past 6, we again heard similar chants but we did not move. However, after a while, our Khuddam brothers knocked on the basement door and called us out upon which we came out. We were thankful to God that we got saved but as soon as we saw the scenes of bloodshed and brutality in the mosque, I fell on the ground unconscious and was taken away by our Khuddam brothers to the ambulance.”   

The scene outside of Dar ul-Zikr, Lahore, on the day of the attack.

More than 80 worshippers were brutally martyred and another 120 were severely injured. Most of the victims were buried in the town of Rabwah, the official headquarters of Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan. The attack was condemned by many main stream media outlets and politicians but none of them attended the funeral services or visited the affected. Independent organisations claimed that this type of atrocity is primarily targeted to Ahmadis easily due to their constitutional ‘non-Muslim’ status. Today, on this day of 28 May 2020, we pledge allegiance to the martyrs of 28 May through our heartiest submissions. It is hard to believe that those terrorists were chanting slogans of Takbir while killing innocents on the day which is declared Yaum e Takbir officially by the government of Pakistan. However, under the divine guidance of our beloved Khalifa, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmed (aba), this community showed an immense example of patience and composure. There was no protest recorded, no official statements being made and no reports were lodged. This blessed Jama’at rested its case with the highest of courts, that of Allah Almighty. Fellow Ahmadi brothers hugged and consoled each other by saying,

“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V. 157)   

This agony created a state of restlessness in the community which was encountered by endless prayers seeking help and justice from Allah. Ahmadis all over the world became witness of this sacrifice that “O my martyr brother, you have set an example of the Sahaba of Uhud and enabled yourself to claim your place in the gardens of Jannah”. Huzoor (aba) also comforted the Jama’at on this occasion with the following words:

“Allah the Almighty is certainly capable of taking revenge from those who have tried to cause this collective harm. He knows better how He will show His Power, how He will catch those who commit this mischief and oppression. But may Allah make these people, who are repeatedly challenging the honour of God and are increasing in oppression, a sign and example for people; Insha-Allah, it will happen.” (Friday Sermon, 28 May 2010) 

Today as we witness the completion of these ten years of this incident, we can surely feel that this sacrifice did not restrict the progress of this blessed Jama’at. In fact, this community qualified themselves among the ones following the footsteps of the Holy prophet (sa) and the Sahaba (ra) as per the hadith. Today every Ahmadi can surely feel the wounds those takbir slogans inflicted them with. The love for ‘Takbir’ however, will still be there.

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My Lockdown Story

Luqman, a 17 year old Khadim shares how he spent his lockdown in the service of mankind in accordance with the teachings of Islam, and how it provided him with peace of mind and a sense of benefiting his community in a positive manner.

My name is Luqman and I am a 17-year-old Ahmadi Muslim, living in Milton Keynes. During lockdown, I have been helping with Khidmat-e-Khalq (service to mankind) activities, as serving mankind is an integral part of my faith. My aunt has volunteered as the Area Coordinator for our village and the neighbouring village. This role entails receiving messages from and communicating with anyone who needs help and then arranging that help. The first task was to hand out leaflets to every house, with my mum’s and aunt’s contact details if assistance was needed. My sister and I both assisted with this.

Many people responded saying how grateful they were for this support.

One of these responses was by an elderly lady (91 years old) in the neighbouring village, who lived alone and needed help with shopping. She sent the shopping list to my aunt and together, we went and did the shopping for her. It was only a small list and the trip was quite quick, but it felt great to be able to help someone who was stuck indoors. We dropped off her shopping at her front door and when she came out to pick it up, she smiled and thanked us- it was very humbling to see the gratitude on her face! I now go with my aunt once a week to do her shopping.

There is also another family who live a couple of roads away from us who are unable to leave the house and needed help with shopping and picking up their medical prescriptions. I have accompanied my aunt to do their shopping once. I feel very privileged to have had these opportunities to serve others. It is very comforting to know that I am helping to make other peoples’ lives easier.

I have recently been to drop off cooking supplies to a woman who collects donations and then makes hot meals, giving them out to those who don’t have access to food in these difficult times. It was great to know that the food donations were made towards a good cause and I am proud of being a part of this.

“Islam urges every person to partake in charitable giving, and that even an act of kindness towards another is charity. It also promotes community cohesion and we as Muslims are trying to spread the message of peace to create stronger bonds in society and remove any negative perceptions about Islam.’’ [AMYA Press Release]

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‘I am Equal…’

In light of the current situation in the USA, the question of race equality is again at the forefront of news headlines. Protests and riots are taking place, whilst social media is replete with people voicing their opinion. In a world of inequality, Islam provides the answer.

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Assalaamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahu Wa Barakatuhu. My name is Israfeel Kusi-Addo, I am 19 years of age and I am an Ahmadi Muslim Khadim originally from Ghana, currently living in the United Kingdom.

By the Grace of God, I have been given the opportunity to express my feelings on a very important topic, one which is quite close to home; racism. For me growing up in South London, racism is something that I tackle on almost a daily basis. Whether it be from the selective behaviours of teachers when it comes to resolving matters, to the frequency and way police stop and search us simply due to us “fitting a profile”, or when I go to the shop and the black lady at the till reminds me to always take my receipt as a black man, for fear of my safety. This is a very prevalent issue within our community, but more so within America.

As we all may or may not be aware, on Monday 25 May, George Floyd, an African American man was brutally murdered by a Minneapolis police officer who impaled his knee into Mr Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes whilst Mr Floyd had his face imprinted on the ground. At the same time 2 other officers also had him pinned to the ground whilst the remaining officer simply watched.

The injustices by certain law enforcers amongst others have senselessly killed black people in America and across the world are part of the reasons for deep rooted racism within our societies today. No matter how ‘developed’ human civilisation seems, racism seems to be deep rooted in some societies. Fortunately for me, Islam has a very simplistic, yet beautiful manner of teaching and handling racism. In chapter 49 verse 14 of the Holy Qur’an, it states:

“O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”

Here we can see in plain sight that God denounces all forms of discrimination based on creed, caste or colour. The only measure of one’s value is how pious and righteous they are. Additionally, one’s true character can be seen as pure if they are willing to uphold human values and protect the honour, dignity and freedoms of all people, irrespective of their differences to bring about harmony and peace. This is in perfect harmony with the teachings of Islam, as the Holy Prophet (sa) stated in his farewell sermon:

“All humans, regardless of their background, are equals as humans. There is no superiority for a white person over a black person and neither is the black superior to the white. No Arab has superiority above a non-Arab and no non-Arab has superiority above an Arab.”

Islam lays the foundation of achieving true peace, yet the actions of some Muslims suggest otherwise. However, we in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community have been blessed with Khilafat and a spiritual Imam in the person of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Alhamdulillah. Through his guidance and leadership, we are able to ponder over the true teachings of Islam and act accordingly. For instance, Huzoor (aba) has said:

“Islam proclaims that all people are born equal, no matter where they hail from or the colour of their skin.”

In another instance, Huzoor (aba) states:

“The teachings of the Holy Qur’an are universal and timeless and have established the rights of every person, of every belief, of every race and of every nation.”

This is revolutionary as unlike other leaders around the world with hidden agendas, Huzoor  (aba) advises us to use Islam as the foundation of all good things, as the only thing that we all have in common is that we have differences. Therefore, by embracing one another and following the teachings of Islam, we can surely bring about a world of prosperity, peace and harmony. Insha’Allah.

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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.

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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