Notes & CommentsNo Comments | September 2013
Chimes of Messiah
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The famous clock tower dominates the skyline of the great city of London. This iconic symbol is situated at the northeastern end of a beautiful grand structure; the hub of British politics. The façade of this grand architecture faces the River Thames—a breathtakingly beautiful scene—yet inasmuch as it appears as an iconic symbol of British power and might, the structure reveals something more peculiar, serving as a poignant reminder of the juxtaposition between the hustle and bustle of our materialistic world and the reality of our temporal existence, as if the ever moving hands of this grand clock were calling us to reflect upon our spiritual worth and needs for reformation owing to the swift loss of time. As the four-faced clock chimes hour after hour, it reminds us of the fast passage of time and that this very temporal existence will eventually end. Ironically, the sounds which resonate from this clock are based on notes from Handel’s music composition “Messiah;” perhaps one of the few remnants which leaves an aura of spirituality to a building which otherwise appears to be increasingly embracing secular values. But in an age where materialistic desires are increasing and religion has become anathema to the public, we would be wise to question whether we aren’t forsaking some of the core values enshrined in religious morals. It would be all the more fascinating therefore, to observe a religious figure, especially an Islamic leader, deliver an address at the Houses of Parliament to the main leaders of the nation.
It is 11th June 2013: Today seems like any ordinary day at the Houses of Parliament. The clock tower chimes on the hour. With the swiftness of that ticking clock we see politicians, law-makers and dignitaries step in and out of the grand structure. All seem to be preoccupied with their thoughts and issues. One man, however, comes as with an altogether different purpose; for he is here to deliver a spiritual message of peace and reconciliation to the hub of the decision makers in Britain. This day will mark an historic milestone for all his followers. He will impart this message at the Houses of Parliament upon the centennial reception of the UK chapter of the Community of which he is the worldwide leader. The only Khalifah in the Islamic world, His Holiness commands the hearts of many tens of millions of devout followers in over 200 countries of the world. His name is Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba – considered to be the Elect of God. He leads the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the capacity of successor to the Promised Messiahas of the latter days. His Holiness has already addressed the Houses of Parliament once before, Congressmen and Senators at Capitol Hill in the U.S. and the European Parliament in Brussels. While Muslims across the world are desperately seeking unity in the face of increasingly bitter sectarian conflicts, His Holiness enjoys the distinction of leading the one and only international community united under the sole spiritual leadership known as Khilafat.
From within this grand and beautiful landmark, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba will represent as an ambassador of Islam discussing a more spiritual, moral and perhaps patriotic aspect of human life—what it means to be British and Muslim. In many similar speeches delivered around the world, he has preached true patriotism. He reminds Muslims that having love for one’s country is a constituent of faith. For him, there can be no conflict between one’s love for Islam and love for one’s respective country. He is an advocate for the separation of religion and state; yet believes that religions, including Islam, have much to offer in helping nations progress. As he enters into Churchill room he is met with a standing ovation. The aura of a true sense of British open-mindedness, tolerance and inter-religious coexistence is noticeably present. These values are all the more commendable especially in view of the fact that an Islamic leader is being given the chance to speak in the Houses of Parliament. A man of prayer that he is, His Holiness commences his address with a prayer for all the departments and people so that all those who work within this building may be able to fulfil the rights of serving the country and its people. He also hopes that they are able to work in the best manner towards fostering good relations with other nations, to act with justice and make decisions that are of benefit to all parties. He mentions that all Ahmadis share this vision because loyalty to one’s nation is an Islamic teaching. As always, his community is at the forefront in bringing communities together, from running blood drives, helping local communities and organising numerous charitable causes; most notably when hundreds of Ahmadi youth took to the streets to collect money for the British Legion. Addressing the Parliamentarians, he says that every Ahmadi Muslim is a British Citizen whether born here in UK or an immigrant and is completely loyal to this country. Thereafter he lauds the open-heartedness and tolerance of the British people by highlighting that 15% of the population in the UK come from other nations and exhorts his own followers to prove themselves loyal citizens and support government efforts to tackle all forms of disorder. His speech at parliament outright condemns the actions of the killers of the British soldier Lee Rigbey. In similar speeches, he does not let any opportunity slip by without presenting the true and beautiful teachings of Islam to as many people as he possibly can. Jihad might be conceived as a sensitive topic, but His Holiness manages to discuss the true nature of Jihad and defensive battles in Islam in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the listeners and helps demystify the many misconceptions of Islam. It was perhaps a unique point in history that a lecture on true Islam was being delivered at the very heart of Britain. But for most Ahmadi Muslims, it calls to mind the extraordinary breadth of vision, promise and prophecy of a man who spoke over a hundred years ago in the words: “I saw myself standing on a rostrum in London revealing the truth of Islam through well-reasoned arguments in the English language.” At that time little did his contemporaries know that this voice of the Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian, would eventually be heard chiming even in the remote distances of time. On the first day of the initiation of the community, just 40 people took allegiance to him. In just over a century, his community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, now attracts more than tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims across 204 countries of the world. As Virginia Woolf once described as ‘the leaden circles dissolved in the air’, the Big Ben continues to stand in defiance, transcending time. This community however believes that time will tell how it will continue to succeed.