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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
Total Views: 9522
Peak concurrent: 418
Total Views: 8854
Peak concurrent: 429
Total Views: 15,510
Peak concurrent: 428
Total Views: 9007
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.
Becoming an Abode of Comfort During Crises
As the world fights its way through a global pandemic, it is vital to address mental health more so than usual. Being a universal religion for all people of all times, Islam provides beautiful solutions to this illness.
During one of the last major pandemics, the SARS outbreak of 2003, it was noted that there was a 30% increase in suicides in those aged 65 years and older. Clearly, the time we are going through currently is proving to be far more severe in its impact on our lives than the SARS outbreak which affected almost 8000 people and took the lives of 774 individuals.
Resilience, fortitude and patience are key characteristics of people who can soldier through times like the coronavirus pandemic; however various groups of people are at a risk of a dangerous decline in their mental health. Suicides, family break ups, addictions etc… can be amongst the consequences if left unattended. During the SARS outbreak, those patients who recovered from the deadly disease were at an increased risk of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Thus, in the present climate the combined effects of quarantine and coronavirus itself can become risk factors for mental health issues. Inauspiciously, the lockdown on its own is expected to increase loneliness as well as social isolation as shown by the surveys conducted by Holmes et al. As laid out by the medical journal, The Lancet, there needs to be a response on an individual basis but also a wider effort is required from us as a society. The study published in the journal suggested that whilst individually, the care for people with mental health difficulties can be provided in a virtual manner along with interventions for people who may be feeling suicidal, however wider solutions are also needed, including financial support, housing for domestic violence victims and regulated media reporting.
Given these difficult circumstances, we must seek to support those around us. It is comforting to know that the Holy Qur’an states that at no phase of our life are we burdened beyond what our souls can bear [Holy Qur’an 2:287]. For us to comprehend this concept, we can turn to the explanation given by the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) in his Friday sermon, delivered on 29 May 2020.
His Holiness explained that the application of the verse “Allah does not burden any soul beyond its capacity” [Holy Qur’an 2:287], requires one to expand their knowledge and thus have we been taught to supplicate with the following prayer; ‘O my Lord increase my knowledge.’ [Holy Qur’an 20:115] This is because a person is made responsible for utilising the faculties he has been provided to gain the pleasure of Allah. This in turn benefits a person in times of peril, because they go on to enhance their perception of God through the capabilities they have been provided by God and through prayer. Thus, in times of hardship this heightened perception and mental capacity to bear hardships proves vital for turning to God and facing difficulties head on. The Merciful and Benevolent Creator has provided us with grounds to gain knowledge of His bounty and to increase our capacities so that we can turn to Him in all times, including during times of trial.
Further to increasing our capacities, we must help those who are weak around us. We must seek to inculcate an exemplary model in our homes so that we can provide support to our loved ones when they need it most. Meaning that only when we attempt to embody and adopt the attributes of our Creator, can we develop the patience to listen attentively to the hardships of our loved ones as one of the attributes of Allah the Almighty is also As-Samee’ – the Most Hearing. A loved one cannot feel comfortable sharing a deep part of their soul if we do not first gain their trust by showing them that we can provide a place for their thoughts to reside.
An excellent example of this characteristic is found in the Caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who listen with great love and care to the hardships Ahmadi Muslims are facing and share in their grief. This was defined very beautifully by the fourth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), when he was speaking about the people of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community opening up to the Caliph. He wrote in a poem “O my Lord, is this a heart or a place for guests to stay?” This shows the deep affection one can have for a loved one, by listening to someone with the intent only to provide comfort and rest.
This is something that we can look up to the Caliphs to understand how much love and affection they have for humanity which helps ease the hardships of those in need. Indeed, serving humanity and caring for others is a great virtue. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) explained how much love one should have for others when he gave a small glimpse into his love for Ahmadi Muslims, when he said:
“Before sleeping at night there is no country of the world that I do not visit in my imagination and no Ahmadi for whom I do not pray whilst sleeping and whilst awake. I am not doing any favour because this is my duty and may Allah enable me to ever increase in assuming my responsibilities.
Furthermore, the fourth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh), after the couplet mentioned above goes on to write in the next verse, “If I cannot ask from You [God] then who can I ask from? I am Yours and You are my God, You are my God.”
From this we learn that albeit the pious and righteous people of God provide a place for people to rest their emotions, they still themselves depend upon the Master, the Creator; Allah the Exalted.
As individuals we must instil the love of Allah within ourselves through His remembrance, so that if a trial or a difficulty may come, it will come with His pleasure, with His special care. Thus we will be able to turn to Him and create the opportunity for any of our struggling loved ones to do so too.
‘…Aye! it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort;’ [Holy Qur’an 13:29]
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]
Latest Print Edition
The First Ever Virtual Rally
Becoming an Abode of Comfort During Crises
My Lockdown Story
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