Women and Islam

POSITION OF WOMEN

23 AHMADIVVAT & PREACHING OF ISLAM A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ( Ajlab Ahmad Khan) About a hundred years ago, to be precise in 1894, an international conference of missionaries of the Church of England was held in London. Presiding over a session dealing with missionary work in India the Lord Bishop of Gloucestor, the Rt. Reverend Charles John Ellicot, DD, said: “But perhaps the movement in Muhammadanism is the most striking. I learn from those who are experienced in these things that there is now a new kind of Muhammadanism showing itself in many parts of our empire in India, and even in our own island here at home. Muhammadanism now speaks with reverence of our blessed Lord and Master, but is not the less more intensely monotheistic than ever. It discards many of these usages which have made Muhammadanism hateful in our eyes, but the false prophet holds his place no less pre-eminently than before. Changes are plainly to be recognised: but Muhammadanism is not the less aggressive, and alas! to some minds among us, (God grant that they be not be) even additionally attractive”. (The Official Report of the Missionary Conference for the Anglican Communion, 1894, p 64). How wise and perceptive the respected Lord Bishop was! He observed that a ‘new kind of Muhammadanism’, a western term for Islam appearing at the end of the century was intensely monotheistic and stood for the pre-emminence of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. He noticed that the new movement had discarded false usages which had made Islam hateful in the eyes of the others and, further, the Lord Bishop feared that it was increasingly becoming more attractive and acceptable. This new phase in Islam was brought about as a part of a Divine scheme which had been prophesied by the major religions of the world. More specifically, the Holy Quran had mentioned that a time will come when, the Holy Prophet of Islam’ would say, “0 my Lord, my people have indeed abandoned the Quran and made it a thing abandoned” (25:31). The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, “A time will come, when 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS when nothing will be left of Islam. except its name.” However, God. had promised that His word will not be abandoned to disappear. In Sura Al Hijr, He said, “Verily, we sent down the Quran and Verily we are going to protect it”. (25:31). He also gave an unqualified promise of the Victory of Islam. The Holy Quran points out in Sura Al Tauba, “He it is who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over every other religion.” (9:33) Thus, there were Divine promises for the protection and preservation of not only the text of the Holy Quran but also of its message and purpose. Moreover, the victory of Islam has been guaranteed. These objectives were to be achieved in the time of the Promised Mahdi and Messiah. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian is the man who claimed that God had appointed him as the instrument for the implementation of the Divine design and he went on to prove the truth of the prophecy, “Thou art a warner from Me. lndeed, I did send thee so that the sinners should be differentiated from the righteous”. Let us examine how he triumphed in this mission with the grace and blessings of Allah. The foundations of the mighty Mughal Empire in India were shaken by internal dissent and external intervention in the 18th Century. The final blow came in 1857 with the collapse of the Mutiny which brought India directly under British control. The defeated and dejected Muslims in India were facing destruction and disaster. Islam was under attack from all sides. At this time, Divine intervention in the form the advent of the Promised Messiah came to their rescue. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad came out with a clear declaration that Islam is a living and everlasting religion and its destiny is to triumph over all other religions. His monumental book Braheen-e-Ahmadiy- ya, completed between 1880 and 1884, not only provided the most logical exposition of the tenets of Islam but also challenged other religions to produce comparable arguments in support of their respective faiths. Its impact on the Muslim mind and morale was most dramatic. A contemporary religious scholar, Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi acknowledged that Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya “Is without parallel and, in view of our time and our needs, without an equal in the history of Islam”. Beginning with Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, spent the rest of his life in establishing the supremacy of Islam in every aspect of teaching, doctrine and beliefs and upholding its moral and spiritual standards. j, AHMADIYYAT AND PREACHING OF ISLAM 25 His writings and teachings brought about a conceptual revolution in the study of Holy Quran and the understanding of Islam. He argued that Islam is a living faith and its supreme gift is contact with God. Therefore, the door to divine revelation is always open and a true Muslim can find paradise in this very world. Secondly, Islam is a universal multi national and multi-racial religion. Thirdly, he established that the use of force in religion cannot be iustified on any account. He rejected the orthodox idea that the Mahdi will, along with the Messiah, wage bloody wars against all non Muslims. He believed that the supremacy and triumph of Islam can be brought through reason, logic and peaceful persuasion. Thus he started the process of weeding out superstitious practices and archaic ideas which had disfigured and distorted the’ beauty and purity of Islam. The rejuvenation and renaissance of Islam had begun. The Muslims got a new vision and their confidence returned. Islam had started its march to final victory. This victory had to be achieved through peaceful means and by arguments. The message of Islam was very clear. It had to be delivered to the whole world. This was an essential mission and the principal purpose of the second advent. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the resident of a small and insignificant village in the distant corner of a province in India, with no apparent resources at his command, was commissioned to carry that message throughout the world. Indeed, he received the divine revelation: “I shall carry thy name and thy teachings to the remotest corners of the earth.’ And, was further told, ‘I shall bless thee to an extent that sovereigns shall seek blessings from thy clothing’. What a glorious promise. What a grand design.! Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad initiated the Ahmadiyya Movement to fulfil the responsibility placed on his shoulders by Allah, of re-activating the spirit of Islam and re-awakening mankind to a spiritual life. He was the recipient of two Divine assurances concerning the success of his undertaking. The first related to his own life time when he started his mission without a single follower. The second foretold the great success of the Movement in the future under the guidance of his successors. Thus, Ahmadiyyat became the instrument for the revival, propagation and success of Islam. Preaching of Islam became the very soul and heart of the Ahmadiyya Movement. Through his extensive writings and addresses the Promised Messiah conveyed the light of Truth to thousands of hearts. In the sub-continent of India, hundreds of people from all walks of life pledged their loyalty to him. Even those who did not join the 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Movement, acknowledged his scholarship and service to Islam. On receiving a Divine revelation, he started a monthly journal in English, “The Review of Religions” in 1902 with the primary object of projecting Islam in the world. He wrote letters to dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister Gladstone and Prince Bismarck. In 1897, he presented a brochure to Queen Victoria inviting her to accept Islam. The American Ambassador to the Philippines, Alexander Russell Webb, who was converted to Ahmadiyyat, paid his tribute to the Promised Messiah in these words: “More than twenty years ago I started my correspondence with him and ever since then I have been deeply affected by the fearless earnestness with which he continued to spread the truth in the pursuance of his purpose. Without a doubt God Almighty had chosen him for this great enterprise which he fulfilled completely”. The Promised Messiah inspired and instructed his companions to undertake the noble task of preaching and thus set an example for the future generations. Time does not permit me to describe in detail the accomplishments of such devoted people as Ch. Fateh Muhammad Sial, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, Hafiz Ghulam Rasul, Maulana Rajeki, Hafiz Roshan Ali, Mir Muhammad Ishaq and Maulana Nazir Ahmad Ali in the field of preaching Islam. Their record forms a rich heritage of the Ahmadiyya Movement. The concept that preaching is the way to secure contact with God became a reality in the time of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, the Second Successor to the Promised Messiah. By initiating the Tahrik-e-Jadid and Waqfe-Jadid he instituted preaching of Islam through missionary work at home and abroad. A large number of volunteers who had pledged their lives to the service of Islam were trained for the propagation of Islam in foreign countries. The first Ahmadiyya Mission was established in London in 1914. Subsequently Missions were opened in a number of countries in Europe, North & South America, East and West Africa. Today, Ahmadiyya Jamaats are located in 117 countries and in many of them the message of Islam has been carried exclusively by Ahmadi Muslims. A well known American magazine, The Christian Century, remarked sometime ago, “The Ahmadiyya Movement is the only active missionary Movement at work in Islam.” It is in Africa that the Ahmadiyya Movement has scored most remarkable successes and thus fulfilled the prophecy about the triumph of Islam over other religions. Hazrat Musleh Maud, the Second Khalifa, possessed the wisdom to foresee that Islam alone AHMADIYY AT AND PREACHING OF ISLAM 27 could meet the social and spiritual needs of the African people who had been exploited for centuries. Ahmadiyyat did not go to Africa on the shoulders of colonialism and imperialism but in the arms of mutual respect and love. The African response has been amazing. The late Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih HI, paid two visits to some African states and won the hearts of their people. More recently, in 1988, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV visited eight African countries where he was accorded most enthusiastic welcome by the public as well as their governments. The Ahmadiyya educational and medical institutions in Africa have played a supportive role in the efforts of our missionaries in preaching the message of Islam. Sometime back, The Life magazine of USA published a comprehensive illustrated report on the activities of Ahmadiyya Missions in Africa. In his book, “Islam in East Africa”, Dr. Lyndon Harries wrote: “Even though they are regarded by the orthodox as heretics, they are more able defenders of their faith than any of their contemporaries There are no more active propagandists in the Muslim world today; it is significant that of all the Indian Muslim sects, this is the only one to establish itself among tribal Muslims.” (Extracts from Islam in East Africa, By Lyndon P. Harries, M.A., Ph.D., published in 1954). The Africans have been appreciative of what Ahmadiyyat the true Islam has done for them. A Minister of Sierra Leone acknowledged the debt that his people owed to Ahmadiyyat in these words: “I cannot refrain from admitting that in Sierra Leone today if there is any Muslim organization busy in serving the country, it is only the Ahmadiyya Movement and its Missionaries. And it would also be an injustice not to admit the fact that if the Ahmadi Missionaries had not come to this country and defended Islam against the onslaughts of the Christian missions, hardly anything of Islam except its name would have been left in these parts by this time, and no one would have liked to associate himself wi th it.” Africa has also had the privilege of witnessing the fulfillment of divine prophecy concerning the blessings of the Promised Messiah. On his inauguration as Head of State of Gambia, Al Haj Singhateh, wrote to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IH requesting a piece of cloth belonging to the Promised Messiah. At last years’s lalsa Salana, two Nigerian Chieftains also received similar gifts from the hands of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV. No account of preaching of Islam in modern times can be complete without referring to the pioneering work 28 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS work undertaken by the Ahmadiyya Movement in_ publishing and translating the Holy Quran into ditlerent languages. The message of Islam can not be understood properly unless the people from different countries and cultures can read the translation and interpretation of the Holy Quran in their own languages. The Ahmadis have performed this service by translating the Holy Book into more than a score of languages and as a thanks giving for Ahmadiyya Centenary Celebrations, excerpts from the Holy Quran will be translated into at least one hundred languages, under the guidance of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV. The Ahmadiyya Comniunity has been able to provide to mankind a treasure house of literature dealing with the principles and practices. of Islam and the life and achievements of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Many new converts to Islam particularly in Western countries were introduced to Islam and attracted to its teachings through the Ahmadiyya literature and, in the words of a: brother from Africa, “their sleep was awakened with the light of Islam”. The Holy Prophet of Islam had said: “Knowledge disappears from the earth when men of knowledge disappear from the earth”. It is a blessing of the second advent that the Promised Messiah revived the tradition of search and knowledge and the Ahmadiyya Movement has produced men of knowledge for the service of Islam. Preaching is the hall-mark and characteristic of Ahmadis to such an extent that they have been persecuted and oppressed for that very reason. In some countries the orthodox religious groups have campaigned against Ahmadiyyat because it threatens their vested interest and privileges. This is particularly true in Pakistan where in recent times political extremists and religious fanatics have joined hands with a dictatorial military regime to prevent the Ahmadis from performing their duties as Muslims. Ahmadis in Pakistan have been deprived of their fundamental rights because they will not abandon the obligation to preach. A highly placed official of Pakistan told me: You give up your preaching and tabligh and you will be accepted as Muslims and all your worries and woes will be over. This the Ahmadis will not do. This they cannot do. This is the fundamental element of their faith and their commitment to the Promised Messiah who had foretold: “For Islam the time would come once again of the same freshness and light which earlier had belonged to it; and the self same sun would once more rise in all its splendour which had illumined the world in the days of its inception.” (Fateh Islam, p 9). We want to witness that splendid sun shine. May Allah fulfil our wish. Amen. All Praise belong to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. AHMADIYY AT AND PREACHING OF ISLAM 29 3. Our Lord, take us not to task if we forget or fall into error; Lord, place us not under responsibility in the manner of those before us; Lord, burden us not with that which we have not the strength to bear; overlook our defaults and grant us forgiveness and have mercy on us; Thou art our Master, so grant us succour against those who reject Thee. (2:287) 4. Our Lord, let not our hearts become perverse after You have guided us; and bestow upon us mercy from Thyself, surely Thou art the Great Bestower. (3:9) 5. 0 Allah, Lord of sovereignty, Thou bestowest sovereignty upon whomsoever Thou pleasest, and Thou takest away sovereignty from whomsoever Thou pleasest, Thou exaltest whomsoever Thou pleasest, and Thou abasest whomsover Thou pleasest; in Thy hand is all good. Thou surely has power to do all things. You make the night pass into day and make the day pass into night; You bring forth the living from the dead and bring forth the dead from the living. Thou bestowest upon whomsoever Thou pleasest without measure. (3:27-28) 6. Our Lord, we believe in that which Thou hast sent down and we follow this Messenger, so write us down among the witnesses. (3:54) 7. Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our excesses in our affairs, and make firm our steps and help us against the disbelieving people. (3:148) 8. Our Lord, we have heard a Caller calling unto faith, “Believe ye in your Lord”; and we have believed. Lord, forgive us, therefore, our errors and remove from us our ills, and in death number us with the righteous. Lord, grant us that which You have promised us through Your Messengers and humilate us not on the Day of Judgment, surely you doest not contrary to Your promise. (3:194-195) 9. Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, we shall surely be of the losers (7:24) 10. Our Lord, make us not a trial for the wrongdoing people; and deliver us by Thy mercy from the tyranny of the disbelieving people. (10:86-87) 11. My Lord, malce me constant in observing prayer and my children also. Our Lord, of Thy grace accept my supplication. (14:41) 30 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 12. Lord, have mercy on them (my parents), even as they nourished me in my childhood. (17:25) 13. Our Lord, bestow on us special mercy from Thyself and provide for us right guidance in our affair. (18:11) 14. There is no god except Thee, Holy art Thou. I have indeed been of the wrong-doers. (21:88) 15. Our Lord, we believe; so forgive us and have mercy on us; for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy. (23:110) 16. Lord, forgive and have mercy, for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy. (23:191) 17. Our Lord, grant us of our spouses and our offspring the delight of our eyes, and make us a model for the righteous. (25:75) 18. Lord, I am in need of whatever of good Thou mayest send down to I me. (28:25) 19. Lord, grant me the favour that I may be grateful to Thee for the bounty that You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may act righteously so as to please You; and make my progeny righteous also. I do turn to You and truly I am Your obedient servant. (46:16) 20. Our Lord, forgive us and our brother who preceeded us in the faith, and permit not any feeling of rancour to arise in our hearts against those who believe; Lord, You are indeed Compassionate, Merciful. (59: 11) 21. Our Lord, in Thee do we put our trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance, and to Thee is the final return. Lord, make us not a trial for those who disbelieve, and forgive us, Lord, for You alone are the Mighty, the Wise. (60:5-6) 22. Our Lord, perfect our light for us and forgive us; surely You have power over all things. (66:9) PRAYERS OF THE HOLY PROPHET In the name of Allah, Whose name affords protection against all that is in the heavens and the earth. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. AHMADIYYAT AND PREACHING OF ISLAM 31 I seek protection through the perfect words of Allah against the evil of all created things. I seek protection through the perfect words of Allah from His wrath and His retribution and the evil of His creatures high and low and from the incitements of Satan, and I ask protection with Thee, 0 Allah, that they should approach me. I seek protection through the perfect words of Allah which none may outflank, whether he be pious or vicious, and through His beautiful names, those that I know and those that I know not, against the evil of all that He has created and made and spread out, and the evil of that which descends from heaven and the evil of that which ascends unto it, and the evil of that which is spread in the earth and the evil of that which issues forth from it, and from the evil of the disturbances of the night and the day, and the evil of all that moves by night unless it should move for good, 0 Thou Most Gracious One. Allah, I seek Thy protection against being involved in distress, or encountering misfortune, or being afflicted with an evil decree, or being the subject of the taunts and reproaches of my enemies. Allah, I seek the protection of Thy forgiveness against Thy wrath, and the protection of Thy pleasure against Thy anger and Thy protection against Thyself. 0 Thou of Glorious Countenance. Allah, I seek Thy protection against problems and anxieties, and I seek Thy protection against helplessness and shiftlessness, and I seek Thy protection against cowardice and miserliness, and I seek Thy protection against indebtedness and the tyranny of people. Allah, guard me with that which is lawful against that which is unlawful, and enrich me with Thy grace, so as to make me independent of all except Thyself. There is none worthy of worship save Allah, the Forbearing, the Noble, Holy is Allah, the Lord of the Great Throne, and all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I beg ot Thee the means of attaining Thy mercy, and the high resolves for, winning Thy forgiveness, and a large portion of every virtue, and security from every sin. Do not leave any of my sins unforgiven, nor any of my anxieties unrelieved, nor any of my needs which hast Thy approval unfulfilled, 0 Most Merciful of all those who show mercy. Allah, bestow upon us so much of Thy fear as should become a 32 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS and such conduct as would lead me to Thy Love. Allah, bestow on me Thy love and the love of those loving whom whould be of benefit to me in Thy sight. Allah, make that which Thou dost bestow on me of that which I love a source of strength for me in respect of that which Thou lovest, and make that which Thou dost take away from me of that which I love a release towards that which Thou lovest. Allah, purify my heart of hypocrisy, and my conduct of showing off, and my tongue of falsehood, and my eye of treachery, for indeed Thou knowest well the treachery of the eyes and that which is hidden in the minds. Allah, make that of me which is hidden better than that which is manifest, and make that which is manifest righteous. Allah, I beg of Thee the purest of that which Thou bestowest upon people of family and property and children, neither going astray nor leading others astray. o Allah, diffuse light into my heart and ears; Diffuse light on my eyes and on my tongue; Diffuse light on my right and on my left; Diffuse light above me and under me; Engulf me in Thy light. o my Lord, while seeking the fragrance of Your pleasure, I seek refuge from Your wrath; and while seeking security in You, I seek in You from Your <..ispleasure. My heart is full of praise for You, but the truth is that I cannot adequately praise Thee. Thou art, indeed, as Thou definest Thyself; the Lord of the worlds, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful, The Praiseworthy. Master, 0 my Master! I have come to Thee - a wretched and greatly afllicted begger, to implore You for mercy, and with great humility I have come in search for Your protection. Trembling with fear, I have come not to seek any reward but only to plead guilty and confess my sins. Like the poor and the needy I have come to Your door begging for Your mercy and Your favours. 0 my Lord! have pity on me, and bestow Your favours on me. Look! my Master, like a weak and sinful person I am prostrating before Thee. I am imploring humbly! Gripped with fear and deeply afflicted, I beg mercy from You; and I lean in full humility before You. My eyes are shedding tears of repentance. My soul as well as my body , AHMADIYYAT AND PREACHING OF ISLAM 33 is prostrating in humility before You. My Master, for Your sake I have humbled myself like a worm of the clay; and I am prostrating in utter humility at Your Divine thre-shold. Master! Who is greater than you I should turn to and beg from him? Who else is there who can grant me my supplications? So my Beloved, do not banish me; do not reject my prayers; do not abandon me to my misfortunes. Master, look at me with compasion. Master, Mercy; Mercy; Mercy; Ameen. o my Allah, I seek of You Your Own love and the love of those who love You. Please grant me the ability to do such deeds as may beget in me Your Love. 0 Allah, make Your Love, in my heart dearer to me than my ownself, my family and the fresh water is to a thirsty person. "0 God! Keep me humble while I am alive and keep me humble when I die and let my resurrection on the Day of Judgement be with the humble." "Allah has revealed to me that you should comport yourselves with humility towards one another so that no one transgresses against another, nor boasts of any superiority over another." FAULTS In speaking of a person's faults Then don't forget your own; Remember those with homes of Glass Should seldom throw a stone; If we have nothing else to do Than talk of those who sin, 'Tis better we commence at home, And from that point begin.