History in the Making – Impressions of Guests from the European Parliament EventNo Comments | February 2013
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Since being elected in April 2003 through the Divine Will as Khalifatul Masih V, Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba has travelled extensively to various parts of the world. He has delivered the same message everywhere – calling the people of the world towards peace, justice, tolerance and compassion. His words and guidance stand apart from the words spoken by all other world leaders as he is not driven by any political or vested interests. He is driven only by a desire to spread the true and peaceful teachings of Islam throughout the world – a desire ingrained in him due to his immense love for God and for humanity. In 2012, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba delivered Islam’s true message to two of the most important Parliaments in the world. In June, he delivered an historic address at Capitol Hill urging the United States to use its power and influence for the good of mankind and to bring about peace. Then, in early December, His Holiness was invited to the European Parliament to address the leaders of Europe regarding the pressing needs of the time.
As an eyewitness to the events at the European Parliament, this humble observer saw first-hand that within a period of twenty-four hours, on both the 3rd and 4th of December, the true message of Islam was conveyed by His Holiness through various means in a truly eloquent, reasoned, and magnificent fashion. Within that short period, he held various private meetings with political leaders and dignitaries from across Europe; a question and answer session with the representatives of various Parliaments and NGOs; a Press Conference with the global media and above all he delivered the keynote address to a filled European Parliament about the importance of rejecting all forms of extremism and embracing peace and justice. Watching these events transpire, it became quite apparent that something truly special and historic was being witnessed. During his private meetings with political and social leaders, His Holiness spoke with dignity, compassion and absolute truth, as he expressed his concern at the path that much of the world has taken. His Holiness used every meeting to counsel the leaders towards equality, tolerance and mutual understanding. It was clear that all the guests who had the privilege of meeting with or hearing the words of the Khalifatul Masih (Successor of the Promised Messiah) were inspired and deeply moved. Dozens of attendees and media outlets commented upon the importance of the message delivered by His Holiness and some of their views are presented here.
Views of Guests
Bishop Howard Amen, a Nigerian Priest, travelled especially from Switzerland to attend the event, despite ill-health. Afterwards he commented:
“His Holiness (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad) has changed my entire perspective on Islam. I used to be afraid of Islam. If people listen to Mirza Masroor then the world will change. The doctrine of His Holiness was so mature, timely and appealing. My question is why can’t all the Muslim leaders all over emulate this kind of gentle religious doctrine that tends to unite people irrespective of race, beliefs and background? If there will exist another three men like His Holiness with his message of peace, love for all and hatred for none, I truly believe the world will transform into a better place.”
The Chair of the European Parliament’s ‘Friends of Ahmadiyya Muslims Group’, Charles Tannock MEP UK, spent a great deal of time with Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba during the visit. He later commented:
“Today we were able to promote peace in the European Parliament and non-violence. His Holiness addressed all world leaders and the leaders of different religions calling for an end to extremism. His Holiness raised many issues in his speech, including the Middle East peace process and he even spoke about immigration. He said that both sides must understand their responsibilities and try to build bridges and understanding. I found the speech of His Holiness to be truly inspiring.”
Many of the MEPs who attended the event, spoke of their surprise at the huge turnout. For example, Claude Moraes, MEP for the UK, said: “We have had a bigger turnout than we have had for any meeting of the European Parliament.” Thus, many of the MEPs and staff who spend their years at the European Parliament were genuinely shocked that the European Parliament was filled to capacity for this event. In fact, many guests were forced to stand at the back or even listen from outside. To Ahmadi Muslims, such a turnout was no surprise, as God’s help is always present wherever Khalifatul Masihaba is. When Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba visited the UK Parliament in 2008, or when he visited Capitol Hill in 2012, the rooms were similarly packed beyond capacity with all focus and attention on the words of His Holiness.
Godfrey Bloom, MEP for the UK, had met Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba in London previously and had for many years spoken of his concern at the plight of Ahmadi Muslims who are persecuted in certain countries. After the European Parliament address, he was moved, and stated: “The address of His Holiness has enlightened us and I am truly grateful.” Peter van Dalen MEP for the Netherlands said:
“I attended especially so I could hear His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad speak. I was extremely impressed by his message of peace and [I] hope that he will come again to address the European Parliament.”
Tunne Kelam, MEP Estonia said:
“I attended the function at the European Parliament because it was an opportunity to join in an aspiration for peace. I congratulate the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at for rejecting all forms of violence and terrorism.”
After the event, a well-known Muslim politician from Belgium, Fouad Ahidar, said that the address of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba was a “source of pride for all Muslims.” He said that in the past when he heard the speeches of Muslim leaders he felt despair and embarrassment, but listening to the words of His Holiness meant that he could now hold his head up high as finally a Muslim leader had conveyed Islam’s true teachings to the West.
Following the address, I myself met with a journalist from the UK. When I asked him about his impressions of the event, he said:
“Your leader (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad) speaks very simply and very softly. Yet despite this he does not hold back in his comments. Whatever he believes he says without fear. This is what distinguishes him.”
This comment, in particular, resonated with me because it is true that wherever Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba visits, he speaks boldly and fearlessly. His comments are not aimed to please anyone; rather they are aimed to benefit and help mankind progress and succeed. I was reminded of a meeting Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba held with a group of American military chaplains a few days before his Capitol Hill address in Washington, D.C. One of the chaplains enquired from His Holiness if he was nervous about speaking in front of such a distinguished audience of political and social leaders. His Holiness said that he did not feel nervous at all because whatever said would be from the Qur’an and Islamic teachings. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad’saba confidence and conviction in the truth of Islam’s message and his understanding of its teachings is what truly sets him apart from all other global leaders.
The event also received a great deal of media coverage which enabled the message of His Holiness to reach an audience far beyond the confines of the European Parliament. The Parliament’s official online magazine, ‘TheParliament.com’ covered the event in detail. On 6 December, Kayleigh Lewis wrote:
“An event in Parliament has heard how extremism continues to pose a threat, and that Europe is no exception. The event, held on Wednesday and chaired by ECR deputy Charles Tannock, was attended by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The religious leader spoke about how tolerance and peace are required now more than ever… Other speakers at the event included UK Liberal Sarah Ludford, who said: ‘The Ahmadi tenet of ‘love for all, hatred for none’ is a true inspiration and force for peace and respectful co-existence which we desperately need in a modern world and in all parts of the world.’ Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad received praise from Tannock, as he talked about topics that are particularly controversial in Europe, such as immigration. Ahmad said that it was the responsibility of both immigrants and local people to display “open-heartedness and tolerance” to avoid “restlessness and anxiety” which can lead to problems. “The anger and reaction is not just on the small scale, but can and does reach extreme heights, which is why western media regularly speak about those problems,” he said.
“‘Even sections of the Pakistani media were compelled to report on the event. An article in The Nation newspaper on 13 December 2012 read:’”
“Highlighting the community cohesion and better understanding for the world peace, Mirza Masroor Ahmed, Head of Ahmadiyya Community urged the politicians on Tuesday to seek faith inspired solutions for conflicts rooted in geo-political causes. Addressing the European Parliament here, with the unfolding conflict in the Middle East clearly in mind, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, dealt with head-on the issue of eliminating extremism and promoting peace based on international justice…Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the world’s leading figure promoting peace. His addresses delivered around the world, including Capitol Hill and Westminster, have advocated ways to broker peace in an increasingly globalised and conflict-ridden world. Mirza Masroor called for the quest for justice to be put on a par with peace… He said: “The establishment of world peace is the most vital and pressing issue facing the world today. However, the truth is that peace and justice are inseparable – you cannot have one without the other.”
GEO News, the Pakistan-focussed TV channel, also covered the event in its daily news bulletin, in which it was said:
“An EU Conference has been held about peace and brotherhood. The Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said that the time has come for politicians to find solutions to the problems of the world today. Mirza Masroor said that we must remember that the lack of justice in society causes disorder in the world. Mirza Masroor said that striving for world peace is the most crucial issue for the entire world. The President of the European Parliament Martin Shulz also attended this event. Also in attendance were delegates from around the world.”
Unfortunately, prejudice and discrimination against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at once again reared its head when one English-language Pakistani newspaper covered the event in detail but failed to mention even once that it had been organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at or that Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba had attended and delivered the keynote address. Nevertheless, such opposition was unable to mask the success of the event and so on the very day that the Pakistani newspaper tried to re-write history by erasing the role of the Ahmadiyya Community in this historic event, CNN published a picture of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba along with a quote from his address at the European Parliament about the need for global unity. CNN designated the quote as ‘Quote of the Day’.
The visit by His Holiness to the European Parliament marked yet another historic moment in the continuing life and progress of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at. The great prestige and awe that God granted to the Promised Messiahas was once again manifested through his Khalifatul Masihaba (Successor to the Promised Messiahas).
Abid Khan is the International Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.