A: This is your first trip to Australia since 2006. So what is the main purpose of your visit?
H: Normally when I visit any country where we have our Community, the main purpose is to see the Ahmadi followers there, to listen to their problems and if possible, to try to solve their problems and to try to enhance their spiritual level by delivering sermons, speeches and discourses.
A: How would you describe the current state of your faith both in Australia and around the world?
H: In Australia the Community is not that large. We have almost 4000, or more than 4000 Ahmadis here. They are growing and most of the Ahmadis here are from Pakistan, who had to migrate from Pakistan because of the conditions there in Pakistan for Ahmadis. A lot of atrocities are being committed against Ahmadis. They are being deprived of their rights and all their civil rights are being denied. So this is why they are coming here. Quite a number of them are from Pakistan although there are some Ahmadis from among other nations as well.
A: How does Ahmadiyya Islam differ from other forms of Islam? In your view what are the main differences?
H: It was prophesied by the Prophet of Islamsa that in the latter days a Reformer will come who will be titled as Mahdi and Messiah. For Muslims he will be the person who will guide them on the right path. We also believe the Second Advent of the Messiah which was due, was also going to be fulfilled in this era. We believe that that person has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. Other Muslims believe that, he is not the person. We say that the prophecy of the Holy Prophet of Islamsa also gave some signs. For instance, he said the sign of the eclipse of the moon and the sun will occur during that time in the month of Ramadan on specific days – and that has happened. There are so many other signs written in the Qur’an as well.
We believe those signs have also been fulfilled and the person’s claim is there and Allah is helping him as well. His community is growing by leaps and bounds. And so he is the right man. Had he not been the right person, he would not have had so much success. So they say, after the Holy Prophet of Islamsa no prophet can come. We say that we believe that no law-bearing Prophet can come after the Holy Prophet of Islamsa, but a subordinate Prophet, can. Even if, according to their belief Jesusas had to descend down from the heaven, he will with the title of a Prophet. So it does not break the seal of Prophethood and so this is the main difference.
A: Some governments including Pakistan’s have declared your faith non-Muslim because of those theological differences? Is the situation in Pakistan improving at all for your followers?
H: The first thing is that I should correct you here. When the Pakistan Government declared us “non-Muslims” or “not Muslims”, it was written that Ahmadis are declared “non-Muslims” for the purposes of the law and constitution. So that means that they tried to declare us “non-Muslims”, or according to their wording, “not Muslims” for the purposes of the law and constitution. I believe that no political power, no political party and no government has the right to decide about the faith of any person. It is the person who himself or herself decides which faith he or she is going to hold.
A: Ahmadi Muslims have faced violent attacks in Indonesia. There is a law there that threatens to imprison your followers if they spread their beliefs. Human rights groups have condemned this decree. What would you like the Indonesian Government to do?
H: If there is true justice and all the citizens are being given their due rights, then no government can interfere in the matter of faith of any person, as I have said earlier. The Indonesian Government should not interfere in the matters of faith of any person. They do not have the right to deny their due rights as a citizen of the country. So this is the duty of the government that they should treat all the citizens in the same manner.
A: As the leader of the Ahmadiyya, you have promoted inter-faith dialogue with other streams of Islam. So far has your work in that area been successful?
H: We have been trying and as far as inter-faith dialogues are concerned, we are being widely accepted everywhere. And our motto, Love for All Hatred for None, is liked everywhere whether it is a religious group, political group or any worldly organisation. So this is the true picture of Islam. Islam means peace, love, harmony and reconciliation and that is the true message. Whenever and wherever we take this message it is liked and it is working.
A: And your faith has repeatedly rejected violent Jihad and violent extremism which you say is taking hold of Syria at the moment. How do you feel that conflict in Syria should be handled?
H: As I have said in my sermon that both parties, the government and the people, should try to settle their problems in a way which is amicable, and peacefully solved. I do not think that if the due rights of the people are being given by the government, there will be any hue and cry from the people. And the same thing (on the other side) – if the people try to get their rights, they should also behave in an Islamic way and tell the government that these are our rights. Either you give us our rights, or the other solution is to take the help of the neighbouring Muslim countries so that they help them down in their own countries and all those rights which are being denied by the government should be given by them.
A: Do you think there will come a time when your followers in Pakistan and Indonesia will be able to practice their faith freely without fear of persecution.
H: As far as Indonesia is concerned there is no law which prevents us from practising our faith. But there are some pockets here and there where the local administration is actually creating the problem. The situation in Pakistan is somehow different. There the law has been enacted, as I have already said, that prevents us to practise, preach and behave in a manner which is Islamic. So as long as this obnoxious law is there and true justice is not done, I do not think we can freely practice our faith. But we believe that the time will come one day, and the situation will change, and we shall InshaAllah (God willing) be in a position to practise freely everywhere in the world.
A: Your Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, thank you very much for your time.
H: Thank you very much.