Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Visits GermanyNo Comments | April 2013
Translated by Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael
Part 2 of 2
As a bitter and cold spell gripped Germany in December 2012, the hearts of German Ahmadis were warmed by a visit from their beloved Khalifah (the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Successor to the Promised Messiahas). During this visit, His Holiness inaugurated the new building of Jamiah Ahmadiyya (an Institute of Languages and Theology run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community providing formal training to Ahmadi missionaries worldwide), took classes with Waqfe Nau youth (youth who want to dedicate their lives wholly to the service of the Community) and presided over many official meetings of various organisations of the German Jama’at (or Community) to furnish guidance and support. His Holiness met with several German dignitaries in an effort to raise awareness about the true teachings of Islam. Despite his busy schedule, His Holiness took out time to meet with a very large number of local Ahmadi families, attending an Ameen (an Islamic ceremony of the first complete reading of the Holy Qur’an) and a Nikah (the Muslim contract of marriage) ceremony. The following is part two of a two-part series of a summary of the tour.
11th December 2012
After a busy morning of leading the morning Prayers (Fajr Salat), attending to his official duties and meeting with local Ahmadi families, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba travelled to Wiesbaden, a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse, where His Holiness addressed the members of the incumbent and opposing political parties in the House of Parliament. During his speech, His Holiness expounded the peaceful message of Islam and expressed a hope that Germany will play a key role in the achievement of world peace. In response to a question from the opposition leader about the recent events in Arab countries, His Holiness elucidated that the political situation in these countries had been volatile for the past three decades but was largely ignored by Western countries. However, the recent uprisings leading to changes in leadership and anarchy have compelled Western nations to take heed of the situation as it may pose a threat to the West as well. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba reiterated that the only way to achieve durable peace in Arab countries was through the promotion of principles of justice. He stated that a step towards this ideal would be making international aid conditional upon the provision of justice and civil rights. His Holiness thanked the government of the province of Hesse for their support for the construction of the new building of Jamiah Ahmadiyya. His Holiness expressed the hope that in due course missionaries trained in this region will spread the message of peace, justice and love all over the world. The meeting ended with an exchange of books and gifts at 5:30 pm.
His Holiness returned to Frankfurt to spend his evening meeting with local Ahmadi families as well as meeting with the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt. During an open exchange of views, His Holiness elucidated the principle that religion need not interfere in the affairs of government, and consequently there was no need for any religious group to set up a political party. His Holiness explained that Ahmadis are free to join any political party so long as this association does not intermingle with their religious beliefs. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led the congregation evening (Maghrib and Ishaa) Prayers before retiring to his residence.
12th December 2012
After leading the Fajr Salat (morning Prayers) in Bait-us-Sabuh, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba attended to his official commitments and duties before departing for Bruchsal, a small town of approximately 43,000 people located at an hour’s drive from Frankfurt, for the inauguration of two new mosques. The first Ahmadis arrived in Bruchsal in 1886 and a formal Ahmadiyya Jama’at was established there in 1990. This relatively small local Jama’at has made an enormous financial sacrifice by raising an amount of approximately €2.6 million for the construction of the Bait-ul-Ahad Mosque. Immense gratitude and happiness filled the hearts of this small community that their spiritual leader had blessed the inauguration of their Mosque, one that will play an instrumental role in spreading the message of Islam to this part of the world. After dignitaries and local officers made their welcome address, His Holiness delivered a keynote speech in which he elucidated the attributes of God as described in Surah Fatihah (the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an). His Holiness explained that the fundamental ethos of Islam is the fulfilment of the rights of others as opposed to a preoccupation with one’s individual rights. He stressed that this was the cornerstone to achieving mutual harmony and understanding within a heterogeneous society. His Holiness welcomed the people of Bruchsal to drop in at any time at Bait-ul-Ahad to meet and enjoy a cup of tea with local Ahamdis. At the conclusion of the ceremony, His Holiness led the silent prayer.
Around 4 pm His Holiness left for the town of Pforzheim to inaugurate the Bait-ul-Baqi Mosque, the foundation stone of the Mosque having been laid in 2009. Pforzheim is a town home to approximately 1.2 million people, and is located in southwest Germany around 50 km from Bruchsal. Pforzheim lies at the gate to the Black Forest and is most well known for its jewellery and watchmaking industry, a heritage that earned it the title of ‘Golden City’. The first Ahmadis arrived in Pforzheim in 1984. In his speech at the inaugural ceremony, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba echoed again the peaceful message of Islam and urged Ahmadis to dispel the misgivings about Islam as an extremist religion through their messages of peace and love. His Holiness led the early and late evening (Maghrib and Ishaa) Prayers in Pforzheim and later travelled back to Frankfurt to his residence.
13th December 2012
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba spent the day leading the five daily Prayers at the Bait-us- Sabuh Mosque in Frankfurt and attended to his official duties and met with local Ahmadi families.
14th December 2012
Following his daily morning commitments, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba led the Jumah (Friday) Prayers at Bait-us-Sabuh Mosque. Many dedicated worshippers travelled nearly 500 km from Hamburg and Berlin to attend the Friday Prayers. In his Friday sermon, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba expounded the concept of martyrdom, observing that any individual who makes sacrifices for the cause of faith achieves the status of martyrdom. His Holiness spent the afternoon and evening meeting with local Ahmadi families. The team of the Old Boys Association of Talim-ul-Islam College, Rabwah had a blessed opportunity to have a group photo taken with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba. Before leading the Maghrib and Ishaa (early and late evening) Prayers, His Holiness presided over an Ameen ceremony; later retiring to his residence.
15th December 2012
After attending to his morning engagements, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presided over a meeting of Germany’s National Majlis Amila (Executive Body of community officeholders). Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba explained in such meetings it is customary for missionaries to sit on the right hand side of the Khalifatul Masih. The salient points from this meeting are presented herein below:
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba noted that a large chapter of the Ahmadiyya Community such as the one in Hamburg should strive to raise funds locally to build the minaret of the Bait-ur-Rasheed Mosque. His Holiness urged that bigger and financially better-off chapters should try in earnest to become financially independent for the preservation and maintenance of their properties. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba explained that it was permissible for local Jama’ats to maintain their own funds so long as such funds did not adversely impact on the mandatory financial contributions required from each member of the community. The National President of the Ahmadiyya Community in Germany expressed his concerns that the budget for the ‘400 Mosques Fund’ was €3 million and that it was looking unlikely that the local chapter would be able to raise such a large amount. His Holiness explained that the National President’s reservations were merely indicative of a weakness in the local chapter and that it was important to raise awareness and make increased efforts for fundraising. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba noted that despite the staggering economic conditions in Europe, the spirit of sacrifice in the community remained alive. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba, praising the efforts of the women of the community and instructed that every local chapter must make concerted efforts to raise funds. His Holiness encouraged the youth to increase their contributions to the mosque building programme, giving an example of a student who contributed a substantial amount to the Mosque Fund by driving a taxi. His Holiness set the elder members (above 40 years of age) a target of €1 million for the Mosque Fund, stating that unemployed elder members should raise funds by arranging stalls twice a week. His Holiness noted that even if these efforts raised a relatively small amount of money, it would be a source of peace and blessings for participating elder members. His Holiness stressed the importance of engaging positively with Jama’at members and helping them understand that such expenditures are genuine and necessary, noting that once such trust and confidence are established, voluntary financial contributions would be a natural consequence.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba encouraged putting in place schemes for broad-based leaflet distribution, commending the efforts of Ansaru’allah UK (the auxiliary organisation of the community consisting of male members above the age of 40) who managed to get the book A Pathway to Peace printed and distributed in the UK. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba directed that a Qur’an class subscribing to the highest academic standards should be instituted in Germany, which should be publicised and attended as widely as possible.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba expressed concerns that there had been many incidences of conflicts within mosques involving administrative office holders. His Holiness questioned the National Secretary responsible for moral training (Tarbiyyat) about the possible causes of this, who in his response apprised His Holiness of the challenges that are currently presented by assimilation of Pakistani immigrants into the local system. Since such immigrants have little or no insight about the local workings of the community, at times misunderstandings and disagreements result. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba underscored that these difficulties should have been brought to his attention earlier, such that requisite directions could have been furnished to the relevant department of the community in Pakistan to address these weaknesses in moral and communal training. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba urged that immediate and concerted efforts were required in order to facilitate asylum seekers from Pakistan in integrating effectively into local communities. His Holiness stressed the significance of such efforts, despite their time consuming and slightly challenging nature. However, he also underscored that firm action needed to be taken against those who are not mindful of the traditions of the community. His Holiness expressed empathy at the fact that people trapped in long-term asylum cases at times feel frustrated and on occasion this frustration is vented as anger.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba expressed a concern over the growing number of Ahmadis who need to be cautioned for inappropriate conduct through the imposition of certain restrictions. He stressed that it was vital for regional Ameers and the Department of Tarbiyyat to collaborate to plug holes in matters of spiritual and moral training. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba urged that processes must also be put in place in order to address the worrying rate of divorce.
His Holiness highlighted that the persons responsible for looking after for new converts were charged with the responsibility to address any questions regarding the prophethood of the Promised Messiahas. He advised new converts not to be disillusioned or demoralised by Ahamdis who do not fully follow the teachings of Ahmadiyyat. Having taken Bai’at (the oath of allegiance) to the Imam of the age, His Holiness urged them to develop an independent communion with God. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba cautioned against taking the oath of allegiance in haste, without an in-depth review and understanding of Ahmadiyya literature. He directed that in order to facilitate the integration of new converts into the community, meetings must have at least one item in German delivered by a local member of the community. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba instructed that for non-Urdu speaking German Ahmadis a magazine in German should be published.
Later, His Holiness attended a Nikah ceremony. During his sermon, he elucidated the notion of marriage as a contract between a man and woman, and a process whereby two families come together. In order to please God, His Holiness stressed that every effort must be made to honour this contract, and explained that the guidance furnished in the teachings of Islam provides that the first and foremost way to honour this contract is by adhering to righteousness. He underscored the significance of establishing a strong communion with God, and if earnest efforts were made in this direction, these new relationships and their off spring would be a source of eternal peace and blessings for each other and the community. His Holiness observed that Islam requires that parents and relatives must be respected and cared for, with daughters-in-law and sons-in-law being treated as daughters and sons respectively. If this guidance was adhered to, an atmosphere of trust and understanding would be established resulting in lasting relationships and righteous progeny. His Holiness enumerated that the second commandment regarding maintaining new relationships was truthfulness. He emphasised that the level of truthfulness required for a Nikah was extremely high, being referred to as the “straightforward word”, a truth which doesn’t even have an iota of doubt in it, which is straightforward, clear, can only be interpreted in one way and the truth that removes all misunderstandings.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba warned that it was imperative to remain cognisant of the temporary nature of this world, and the fact that one day we must all leave this world to go to eternal life. His Holiness advised young couples not to forget afterlife in their exuberance of youth, and that they must prepare for this ultimate journey through righteous deeds in accordance with the commandments of God and his Prophetsa. He observed that perfect obedience to God and his Prophetsa leads to success and happiness in this world and the hereafter. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba stressed that these guiding principles were fundamental for every Ahmadi. With many beautiful prayers His Holiness concluded the Nikah ceremony, His Holiness led the Maghrib and Ishaa (early and late evening) Prayers, performed a Bai’at ceremony and met with local Ahmadi families.
His Holiness also presided over two separate meetings with new converts that evening, holding his first meeting with the men wherein several vital topics including amongst other things, the prophethood of the Promised Messiahas were discussed. During the second meeting with women, a Pakistani woman married to a German Ahmadi sought His Holiness’s guidance with respect to presents exchanged over Christmas and birthdays. His Holiness explained that children should be apprised of the teachings of Islam, but should a grandmother wish to give presents to her grandchildren over Christmas, parents should explain to children that this is their celebration. Conversely, His Holiness advised that presents should be exchanged with Non-Muslim relatives over Eid and other Islamic festivals. In response to a question, His Holiness observed that it was inevitable for children living in the West to be exposed to situations where alcohol is being consumed by others, therefore placing an onus on the parents to apprise their children of Islam’s prohibition on drinking and the Prophet’ssa disdain for anyone who makes, sells or drinks alcohol. A convert inquired why ‘He’ was always used to refer to God. His Holiness explained that no language is perfect; the word ‘She’ is at times taken to connote vulnerability, it was therefore more appropriate to address God as ‘He’. This meeting concluded at 8:40 pm following which His Holiness attended a wedding ceremony.
16th December 2012
After attending to his official duties in the morning, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presided over a meeting with people who are actively engaged in preaching from all over Germany. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba directed that individuals who conduct tours of mosque must be fully apprised of the mosques’ history and background of. He advised that that if Ahmadi women undertook the responsibility of addressing outside concerns with respect to the rights of women, their voice would carry greater weight and impact. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba enumerated that segregation in mosques has been maintained in Islam in order to safeguard women’s modesty. In certain postures of Salat, a woman may not feel comfortable or able to focus knowing that there are men in the same room.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba directed that before any preaching programme was organised, in-depth reviews and background work should be undertaken, with the event being publicised widely. Organisers must maintain courteous relationships with attendees who should be encouraged to bring their friends. Such events will contribute positively towards removing misconceptions about Islam on a wider scale. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba advised that that young Ahmadis must not shy away from asking questions regarding cultural norms of the West. As an example, His Holiness quoted the radical change the manner in which people dress in the West in the last hundred years and explained that it could be asked whether the conservatism of a hundred years ago was misplaced or incorrect. He elucidated that cultural norms and values remain in a constant state of flux while religious teachings being Divine Commandments remain unaltered. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba observed that the aim of Islam was to preserve certain core values in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith and that Islamic norms were generally compatible with most cultures.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba directed that seminars designed to train new preachers should focus on contemporary issues relevant to their respective countries. He advised that the Bible should be studied in detail, alluding by way of example to chapter 18 firsts 18 of Deuteronomy is a prophecy with respect to the advent of Prophet Muhammadsa. Preachers must possess a clear and thorough understanding of the Holy Quran and its interpretation.
His Holiness advised that the question of interest from the perspective of the global financial crisis should be addressed in light of the Holy Qur’an. He quoted Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV’sra book Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues as a useful reference point. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba encouraged young Ahmadis to explore new ways to address such contemporary questions and concerns.
His Holiness explained that Islamic teachings were completely compatible with German law as both promoted the freedom of choice and religion. He underscored that while constitutions needed to evolve and develop over time, Sharia (or Islamic law) was the final word of God for all times to come and begged no alterations or change. His Holiness reiterated that Ahmadis being law-abiding citizens must adhere to the law of the land, while adding that Ahmadis should not be expected to abide by discriminatory laws such as those in place in Pakistan which make it a crime for Ahmadis to practice their faith.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba clarified the concept of polygamy in Islam and maintained that marriage was a great responsibility and in polygamous marriages it was a great sin to give precedence to the rights of one wife over another. Quoting the Promised Messiahas on this subject, His Holiness elucidated that the Promised Messiahas has said that if men could comprehend the true extent of the rights granted to women and the punishment for denial thereof, some men would shy away from getting married altogether. He explained that polygamy was Sharia’s response to certain societal problems and various preconditions had been set before a man could enter into a polygamous marriage. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba strongly reaffirmed the view that no one has the right to beat women and that physical abuse hurled towards women was completely unacceptable. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba clarified the concept of Sharia as a mechanism whereby rights were granted to the people and the government and that it was not to be reduced as being merely about cutting off peoples’ hands. His Holiness underscored that Sharia ordained that rights and responsibilities must be exercised responsibly, quoting by way of example the onus of responsibility placed on the voter when he exercises his right to choose a new leader. His Holiness reaffirmed his belief that Ahmadiyyat would spread widely in Germany, but in order for that to be achieved, Ahmadis need to reform themselves. This program ended at noon and was followed by the offering of the afternoon Salat.
Later that afternoon, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba presided over a meeting with the workers of MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya or “MTA” is the official channel of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) Germany. His Holiness underscored that centres of MTA in different countries were mere sub-branches of the main branch of MTA International headquartered in the United Kingdom and accordingly all sub-branches must abide by the instructions issued from the centre. Amongst other things, His Holiness furnished guidance on various matters pertaining to the day to day running of MTA Germany and directed that MTA centres worldwide must institute programmes that reflect the traditions and values of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba stressed that in order to safeguard the values of the next generation, it was imperative to offer them an alternative television programme to what is being shown on mainstream television today. His Holiness emphasised the importance of monitoring the percentage of Ahmadis who watched MTA regularly, stating that he felt this number presently was less than 10 per cent. He urged that it was vital that at least 50 per cent of Ahmadis watched MTA regularly before external audiences could be expected to watch it. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba also visited the female staff at MTA Germany, after which he met with local Ahmadi families. Following these meetings, His Holiness led the evening Prayers.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba addressed Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Germany (the auxiliary of the community consisting of male youth between the ages of 15-39) later that evening. His Holiness appreciated the teamwork and leadership of the outgoing President of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Germany, praising in particular his practice of writing to him requesting for prayers for anyone who was in difficulty. His Holiness credited his leadership as one that epitomised the true spirit of service, quoting is as an example of principle that the head of a nation is the servant of the nation. His Holiness reiterated that leadership must embody the spirit of sacrifice and reflect the values of kind-heartedness and selflessness. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba directed young members of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya to continuously strive to reform themselves, their family and their community. He underscored that the revival of Islam was not a trivial task and required earnest efforts to form a strong bond of love and communion with God. Moreover, His Holiness stressed that the formal prayers must be offered on time and in the congregation, a bond of love and affection should be created with God. The vanity of the media, Internet and television should be shunned to focus instead on gaining religious knowledge. Following this meeting, His Holiness joined the audience for dinner and later retired into his residence.
17th of December 2012
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba inaugurated the new building of Jamiah Ahmadiyya in the town of Riedstadt in Hesse, Germany. The first Ahmadis arrived here in 1985 and the Jama’at was officially set up in September 1987. In August 2004, a mosque by the name of ‘Masjid Aziz’ was inaugurated and some land adjacent to the mosque was purchased for the construction of Jamiah Ahmadiyya. The foundation stone for this building was laid in 2009, and the completed building consists of a formal teaching block, an administrative block, offices, a library, computer rooms, a kitchen, a dining hall and various lobbies and galleries.
Several dignitaries attended the inauguration ceremony, with the audience being addressed by the National President of Germany, local politicians and community leaders. With the conclusion of these speeches, His Holiness addressed the audience and led the silent prayers. In response to a question during a press conference following the inauguration ceremony, His Holiness reiterated the essence of his speech and recounted that he had directed the students of Jamiah to increase their knowledge and understanding of Islam and other religions and act upon the teachings of Islam such that a true picture of Islamic teachings may be formed in today’s world. His Holiness responded candidly to some probing questions from the local media. Later, he kindly joined in for lunch with the students and teachers of Jamiah. Following the conclusion of the inauguration ceremony His Holiness left for Frankfurt where he led the afternoon Prayers. Meetings were held with local Ahmadi families in the evening, followed by the evening Prayers and an Ameen ceremony for some children.
18th of December 2012
His Holiness held another session of meeting local Ahmadi families after attending to his official commitments of the morning. Later His Holiness met with Dr. Weigel, who is the Head of the Postgraduate Department of Dental Medicine and has made a valuable contribution towards improving the dental health of the people of Accra, Ghana. Dr Weigel plans to return to Ghana and provide more resources and training for dental treatments in the country. His Holiness explained that the funds that are raised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Ghana are entirely invested back into Ghana. After leading the midday Prayers, His Holiness continued to meet with local Ahmadi families and attended an Ameen ceremony.
19th of December 2012
After leading the morning prayers, His Holiness left Frankfurt for London. There was an emotive atmosphere in the courtyard of Bait-us-Sabuh where a large number of dedicated followers had gathered. Members of the Ahmadiyya Community in Germany bade a fond and warm-hearted farewell to their beloved Khalifah with tears in their eyes and prayers on their lips and hearts. Following the silent prayers, the motorcade of His Holiness departed from Frankfurt at 10 am and travelled across Germany through Belgium, stopping for a break at a restaurant named ‘Pauzo’. Prior arrangements had been made for lunch and offering of the midday Prayers. After lunch, His Holiness bid farewell to a few members of Germany’s Jama’at who had travelled with him till here, including the Ameer sahib of Germany. The convoy departed from the restaurant at 3:15pm and traversed through France to reach the Channel Tunnel where His Holiness took the Eurostar and arrived in the UK at 5pm. A team of dignitaries from London including Ameer sahib UK greeted Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba after which the convoy travelled to the Fazl Mosque in London. His Holiness returned the greetings of the gathered crowd before returning to his residence.
This was a historic trip to Belgium and Germany and a busy tour concluded successfully.
Edited by Hibba Turrauf and Ayesha Malik