Featured Notes and Comments

Notes and Comments – Loyalty to One’s Nation – An Article of the Muslim Faith

The radical Hizb ut-Ta h r i r movement in Britain has held many controversial meetings where its sponsors and supporters have argued that Islamic and British identities are incompatible, and the term ‘British Muslim’ is an oxy- moron. Long before their conference last year, they had been ostracised by mainstream Muslim communities for treating the Union Jack and British traditions with utter contempt. H o w e v e r, these and similar extremist groups, adamant to polarise Muslim and We s t e r n worlds, have successfully attracted youth ready to die in what they see as a Jihad against the infidel. Indeed, some Muslims born and raised in the UK have ventured to the East with this misguided dream of ‘martyrdom’ in mind. This has led to an ongoing debate in Britain about loyalty and Islam. Can Muslims, affected by the plight of their brethren in other parts of the world, be justified in combating soldiers from their own country, serving their own Government? Islam places great emphasis on the spiritual kinship between all Muslims, irrespective of denomination and nationality. The strength of fraternity in the U m m a h, or body of Muslims g l o b a l l y, is a testament to their profound love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad( s a ). However, the Qur’an also deems obedience to one’s Government – whether it is Muslim or not – as a religious duty (Ch 4: V.60). The question arises, then, how Muslims can balance both commitments, particularly when 4 The Review of Religions – January 2005 Co m m e n t s &Notes Loyalty to One’s Nation – An Article of the Muslim Faith their own country is at war with fellow believers. It is not the first time Muslims have faced this dilemma. But whilst many intellectuals throughout Islamic history have attempted to address this issue, only the name of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), an unrivalled inspi- ration in Muslim scholarship, stands out. Hadhrat Ahmad ( a s ), who lived under British rule in India and is today regarded by millions as the Messiah of Islam, was instru- mental in enlightening Muslims on the principle of loyalty. Notwithstanding the ills of colonialism, he observed there were many virtues of Queen Vi c t o r i a ’s reign, one being its guarantee of freedom of faith. ‘The life, property and honour of Muslims are safe,’ wrote Hadhrat A h m a d( a s ) in his paper B r i t i s h Government and Jihad. ‘We live under the protection of a peaceful and kind Government which has never shown any religious prejudice.’ He elucidated the illegality in Islam of defying such an authority – even if it clashed with Muslim nations. Although Muslims may question the state’s policies, they are duty-bound to c o m p l y. Disagreement is one thing, disobedience quite another. Contrast the call for Jihad by the present-day cults – thirsty for the blood of their own protectors – to the example of the first Muslims in Makkah. It should be remem- bered that for the first thirteen years of his ministry, the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) was a persecuted citizen in his own city. Not only were his teachings ridiculed, they resulted in physical torture for 5 NOTES & COMMENTS The Review of Religions – January 2005 ‘A true Muslim can never raise his voice in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor for that matter against the ruling authority or Government of the time. It is the responsibility of a true Muslim that he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.’ Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad anyone that joined him. Even as the Makkah tyrants dispossessed them of their properties – forcing a mass migration to Madinah – the Muslims’ response remained that of patience. It was only when the persecutors decided to launch a dedicated campaign to terminate the new faith and its followers once and for all, that Islam became entitled to self-defence. As Hadhrat Ahmad(as) explained in another work The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam: ‘The Muslims had been expelled from their ancestral homes, many innocent men and women had been martyred, and still the wrongdoers were not pre- pared to restrain them- selves, and continuously obstructed the progress of Islam. In these circum- stances the divine law of security demanded the safeguarding of the perse- cuted ones against total destruction. The Prophet’s wars were directed towards rooting out the mischief of those who were bent upon murder. If Islam had not had recourse to measures of self- defense, thousands of inno- cent women and children would have been slaugh- tered and an end would have been put to Islam.’ Can Muslims anywhere today claim to suffer the same plight to the same degree as the early believers, for any retaliation their part to be justified? Clearly, Muslims who enjoy the liberty to practice and preach their faith are required to honour the government of their country and to live as decent, law-abiding citizens. As the Holy Prophet(sa) said: ‘One who is not grateful to people is not grateful to Allah’” It is in this spirit that Ahmadi Muslims around the world proudly raise their national flags at many gatherings, as witnessed in October 2003 when they hoisted the Union flag at the opening of Western Europe’s l a rgest mosque in Morden, Surrey, UK. On that occasion, 6 NOTES & COMMENTS The Review of Religions – January 2005 the present worldwide Ahmadiyya head, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, pointed out: ‘A true Muslim can never raise his voice in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor for that matter against the ruling authority or Government of the time. It is the responsibility of a true Muslim that he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.’ This is a Community which upholds the banner and timely message Love for All, Hatred for N o n e. Ahmadi Muslims, in particular, consider it a religious responsibility to make a positive contribution to their country. Many have led the way and found this possible only through active community participation. Not only will this enable Muslims to fulfil their duties as citizens, it should help to promote a greater appreciation of Islam among the indigenous population . For Muslims, assimilation should come naturally, not least because the celebration of diversity was originated by Islam itself. When the Holy Prophet( s a ) won the hearts and minds of Arabia, he created a single and unified but ideologically diverse state that removed local tribal prejudices and ensured a healthy integration of rich and poor, black and white, people of different languages and dialects, those belonging to various cultures and indeed faiths. E v i d e n t l y, being faithful to a government that ensures reli- gious freedom and tolerance constitutes an important article of Islamic faith. The peace of any civilized nation also depends on upholding these precious values. The sooner the militants change and step into line, the better. by Waqar Ahmad Ahmedi – UK 7 NOTES & COMMENTS The Review of Religions – January 2005