An Antepodean Trip of PeaceNo Comments | March 2014
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After an historic and successful visit to Australia, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaba and worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s next stop was New Zealand. His Holiness was on a seven week tour of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan with the main purpose of promoting the peaceful teachings of Islam and enhancing the spiritual and moral training of Ahmadis. His Holiness travelled to New Zealand after having visited Singapore and Australia.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was first established in New Zealand in 1987. One of the earliest Ahmadis from New Zealand, Prof Clement Wraggs, was born in England. A trained meteorologist, he was regarded as one of the leading astronomy experts of his time. He visited the Promised Messiahas, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in May 1908, for many profound and deeply philosophical question answer sessions. Professor Wraggs was most impressed and stated that the Promised Messiahas had explained that there was no conflict between religion and science. Religion is in complete accordance with science; no matter how much progress science makes, it will never be able to refute the laws and principles given in the Holy Qur’an and Islam. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Australia and New Zealand worked tirelessly to trace Professor Wraggs’ progeny, who had the honour to meet His Holiness in 2006. During his last visit to New Zealand in 2006, His Holiness visited the grave of the Professor and prayed and also instructed the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in New Zealand to strive for a purpose and build a mosque. The Ahmadis in New Zealand were able to raise funds to build a mosque in Auckland. The building work on the Baitul Muqeet Mosque started in July 2012 and was completed in August 2013.
During this 8 day tour of New Zealand, His Holiness began his days by leading the Fajr (dawn) prayer in congregation. His Holinessaba spent most of the mornings attending to his wide and varied official commitment as the Supreme Leader of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and responded to thousands of letters from Ahmadis asking for prayers, guidance and support in a wide range of matters. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba also oversaw the official reports about the activities of Ahmadiyya Muslim missions in 204 countries. Moreover, he also found time in his busy schedule for Mulaqaat (a private audience) with hundreds of ordinary Ahmadis;listening to their problems, challenges and difficulties. His Holiness provided them with moral and spiritual support, helping them through prayers and advice. His Holiness also attended the celebrations of Ameen (the first complete reading of the Holy Qur’an) and Nikah (the Islamic, public declaration of marriage). All these extensive activities of His Holiness were arranged around five daily prayers offered in congregation which His Holiness would lead each day himself. In the evening, His Holiness concluded his official day with evening congregational prayers.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba arrived at the Aukland International Airport at 2.50 pm and was received by the dignitaries of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in New Zealand as well as an official Security Officer appointed by the Government of New Zealnd. His Holiness led Zuhr and Asr (afternoon) prayers in congregation in one of the halls in the hotel. At 8 pm, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba set out to visit the Ahmadiyya Headquarters in New Zealand, located at Baitul Muqueet Mosuqe. Upon his arrival, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba was warmly received by men, women and children of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in New Zealand and His Holiness affectionately reciprocated this devoted welcome. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led the late evening – Maghrib and Isha – prayers at 8:30 pm, before retiring to his residence.
The highlight of the day was a reception by the oldest community of New Zealand, the Maori tribes. The members of the Maori tribe put on a spectacular show to welcome Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba, holding the flags of the Maori tribe and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Maori children sang beautiful songs to welcome their revered guest; the welcome ceremony was attended by the King and Queen of the Maori tribe. During the formal ceremony, His Holiness presented the Maori King with the Maori translation of the Holy Qur’an along with a crystal model of the Minaratul Masih (a minaret built in Qadian India, to mark the advent of the Promised Messiahas). Introducing Islam, His Holiness explained that Islam is a religion of peace, tranquility, brotherhood, kindness and compassion. Islam indeed teaches practical ways to attain these values. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba explained that Ahmadis believe that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian was the Promised Messiahas of our age. The dignified ceremony ended with silent prayers.
Afterwards, His Holiness travelled to Rotorua, where His Holiness led the afternoon prayers in a hotel hall. Whilst sight seeing, His Holiness made a video of an unusual sight of boiling mud pools, sulphur fountains and geysers. His Holiness spent some time next to lake Ratorua and enjoyed refreshments. The reception of His Holiness by the Maori tribe was given extensive media coverage.
His Holiness visited Hamilton Gardens and enjoyed the vast and beautiful collection of flowers and exceptional horticulture. His Holiness took photographs and made a video of the gardens. In the afternoon, on his return back to Auckland, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led Zuhr and Asr in congregation at Masjid Baitul Muqueet. Afterwards, His Holiness granted a private audience to 93 members of the 58 families.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presided over a class with Ahmadi children of New Zealand, during which various presentations were made by them. Presentations included the signs of the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas and the importance of the recitation, understanding and implementation of the commandments of the Holy Qur’an. One presentation covered the benefits of Manuka honey, which is known to have many medicinal properties. Thereafter, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba granted Mulaqaat to 92 members of 24 families.
This was the first day of the Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) of New Zealand. The Inauguration ceremony started with the Friday sermon by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba, which was relayed live across the globe via MTA. In his sermon, His Holiness highlighted the importance of mosques and emphasised the vital role they play in Tabligh (preaching). The Inauguration ceremony was recorded by the national television channel TVNZ. In his message, His Holiness underscored that our mosque is open for worship to the followers of any religion in accordance with the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa. His Holiness explained the Ahmadiyya belief about the advent of the Promised Messiahas. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has continued the mission of the Promised Messiahas by translating the Holy Qur’an in 72 languages, including the Maori language. Ahmadis believe that the Holy Prophetsa was a messenger of God sent for the benefit of the whole world; therefore it is vital that the message that God revealed to him, the Holy Qur’an, should reach all the people of the world. His Holiness spoke of the intense persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba also clarified some fundamental differences in beliefs between ordinary Muslims and Ahmadis. Explaining the true concept of Jihad, His Holiness explained that Jihad means to strive for self reformation. Under certain circumstances, permission to fight in self-defense was granted only. The philosophy of this permission was to protect religions from attacks and to fight to defend places of worship; including synagogues, churches and mosques. The Islamic teaching is to defend all religious beliefs and a true Muslim cannot harbour resentment or bigotry against anybody.
Thereafter, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presided over a meeting with the Executive body of Khuddam (Ahmadi men 15-40 years of age). Whilst giving various and detailed directives, His Holiness advised that the true and peaceful message of Islam should be promoted by humanitarian activities such as charity walks to raise funds for the local communities, blood donations and the cleaning of streets after the new year celebrations. His Holiness stressed that currently in the world the image of Islam is negative and inaccurate. By engaging and promoting the activities of service to humanity, Ahmadis can raise awareness about the true teachings and portray the peaceful image of Islam.
This was followed by a meeting with the Executive body of the Ansar (men over the age of 40). Amongst various directives, His Holiness again stressed the importance of projecting the true image of Islam by arranging humanitarian events; like raising money for charity through Marathon walks, visits to old people’s homes and raising funds for local and national charitable organisations.
Thereafter, in the meeting with the Executives of Lajna Ima’illah (Ahmadi women), Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba again stressed the importance of Salat and the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, highlighting the need to follow its teachings and commandments. His Holiness encouraged Ahmadi women to engage in interfaith dialogues arranged by various organisations. The most important way to promote harmony in these meetings is to focus the discussion on the positive aspects of one’s own religion only. His Holiness advised that Ahmadi youth should be educated in the differences in the beliefs of Ahmadis and Christians; holding regular question and answer sessions is a good way to do so.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba attended a reception to mark the inauguration of the Baitul Muqeet Mosque, coverage of which has been given in this edition. In an interview with a journalist from the Sunday Star Times, His Holiness explained that the translation of the Holy Qur’an into many languages of the world including the Maori language, is a part of the mission of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. His Holiness candidly answered questions relating to the advent of the Messiah of the latter days, signs of truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas, the last Divine law i.e., the Holy Qur’an, the concept of Jihad and the purpose of building a Mosque. His Holiness enlightened the interviewer with the motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, ‘Love for all, Hatred for none.’
In the afternoon, His Holiness addressed the women of the Ahmadiyya Community in New Zealand during the Annual Convention. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba reminded Ahmadi ladies that the higher purpose of an Ahmadi woman’s life is to reform the world and it is her responsibility to train the next generation with the same philosophy. His Holiness explained that we cannot reform a nation without the reformation of its women. For an Ahmadi woman, running a good home and achieving success in her professional career is not enough; she must strive higher and fulfil her religious responsibilities also. Young, talented Ahmadi women can take part in ‘Jihad with the pen’ and raise awareness about the true teachings of Islam. His Holiness urged Ahmadi women to rise up to the challenge of the time and with their actions dispel the myth that Islam does not give women rights. His Holiness advocated that to attain these high stations, Ahmadi women should not let the fashion and glamour of this world take them away from their religion and roots. To enhance their religious knowledge Ahmadi women should watch MTA; they must as a minimum, listen to all the Friday sermons and speeches of the Khalifatul Masih, so that they can bring about a positive change in themselves and gain Allah’s Pleasure. Thereafter, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba granted a Mulaqaat of 116 members of 31 families.
In his concluding address to the Annual Convention New Zealand, His Holiness stressed that there should be a clear distinction in the morals and practices of Ahmadis from others; if Ahmadis cannot demonstrate a pious change in themselves after accepting the Promised Messiahas then there is no point in calling themselves Ahmadis. The goal and aspiration of a true believer is to bring about a pious change in oneself. The focus of life should be to please Allah Almighty; this is the key to success.
Following the afternoon Zuhr and Asr prayers, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led a Ba’ait (a formal initiation pledge to enter the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) ceremony. Thereafter, His Holiness chaired a meeting with the National Executive body of New Zealand, advising them on the issues of moral and secular training of Ahmadis in New Zealand and gave advice regarding the youth.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba travelled from Auckland to Wellington by air on this day in order to address the National Parliament of New Zealand, coverage of which is given in this edition.
After a heartfelt and emotional farewell, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba set out for the airport. At the airport, His Holiness was extended protocol by the government of New Zealand. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba boarded a flight with his entourage, destined for Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan, for the next phase of his tour.